Polly and Phil Reading shared their story of living through the transition of integration and how they have enjoyed living in Kennedy Heights.
When they moved to KH it was a ‘normal’ neighborhood. Within several years much transition began with blacks moving into the area and whites fleeing.
Realtors, both white and black, were actively pursuing whites to sell their homes, a distressing time for the residents.
They were pleased with their neighbors and soon were surprised to see so many people suddenly selling their houses. Polly called on residents to tell them she and Phil were staying and hoped they would do the same.
D.D. Starr was active in the neighborhood and encouraged house meetings to discuss the situation, giving statistics about the value of integration. They were glad to be part of her efforts and joined in having the meetings for homeowners. This included organizing KHCC meetings that invited realtors, explaining the desire to have integration and asked them to end the red-lining of the neighborhood.
As part of the housing committee, Polly met prospective homeowners as they viewed homes with their realtors, encouraging the people to actively consider moving to KH. This positive step was taken to minimize the possible negative twist that realtors might give.
Both Polly and Phil have been active in the community, Board members of KHCC, hosting welcoming teas for new residents, and building the library at Kennedy School. Phil wrote the ad for the magazine, The New Republic , inviting people to come live in KH, no matter their color. (Jim & Susan Zarnowiecki heeded the call.)
Their children have since told them that they value having grown up in an integrated community.
When asked what would they say to someone who is moving to KH,
“You’re lucky, this is a caring neighborhood, a place where people look after each other. “
Interviewed August 19, 2013
by Christine Schumacher