Whose ‘Opportunity Corridor’?
“…their own private driveway.” Just as Winston Willis predicted years ago:
Sometime during the late 1960s, in the city of Cleveland, two reigning institutional Goliaths, University Circle Incorporated (UCI) and Cleveland Clinic Foundation joined forces and initiated plans to form an alliance to create a sprawling medical-educational metropolis and become one of the most dominant medical facilities in the world. Included in this mega-billion-dollar project was a far-reaching and prodigious plan to expand the world-renown Cleveland Clinic’s campus and connect it with Case Western Reserve University and University Hospitals, essentially creating their own private driveway. The only “temporary obstacle” to their master plan was a strategically located strip of land and properties with twenty-eight wildly successful and thriving businesses perched right in the middle of the proposed expansion project. Having successfully “handled” such “obstacles” with little resistance in the past, the powerful consortium’s expectation was for similar results. But this Euclid Avenue strip was owned and operated by a brilliant young Black entrepreneur named Winston E. Willis, my brother, who quickly proved to be a formidable force and anything but “handleable”. But after a 15-year legal battle to defend and protect his properties, Willis was illegally imprisoned for over a year and his entire 105th and Euclid Avenue business empire was taken in 1982 without compensation, leveled and destroyed, and gifted to the Cleveland Clinic. And today, Willis’ original Opportunity Corridor (SEE: “The Miracle on East 105th: The Rise and Fall of Winston Willis’ Opportunity Corridor” http://pressurelife.com/the-miracle-on-east-105th/) has been overtaken and renamed, and will function, just as Willis predicted years ago, “…their own private driveway.” Vehicles can now travel from Interstate 490/Interstate 77 through Winston Willis’ properties en route to the University Circle area. With clearly visible evidence of the erasure of Black communities from the area, Cleveland maintains its long-held status as the most racially polarized city in the country.