This is the Pleasant Grove Church Choir in Oakland, Ca…
Now, I don’t know about you – but the joyful noise coming out of Pleasant Grove isn’t any different than the black Baptist Church I grew up in, other than perhaps the drums (the Rev didn’t allow no drums in the old days!). As an aficionado of Gospel Choir music, who has been known to attend a Gospel competition or two (hoping the Preacher has the wisdom to STF up and let the Choir sing) – I can comfortably say what is going on in Pleasant Grove isn’t any different than what goes on in tens of thousands of black churches every Sunday. And I guess the new non-black neighbors had better be thankful they didn’t move next door to one of the larger churches with sizeable choir. To me at least, buying a house next to a Church and complaining about the Sunday traffic or choir noise is like buying a house at the end of a runway of an Airport and whining about the jet noise. You know what, and where you bought when you bought it, and it was there first.
Gentrification in this case…Being the New Jim Crow.
Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter neighborhood
Members of a black church choir are blaming an influx of affluent tech workers for their group facing thousands of dollars in fines.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in West Oakland received a cease-and-desist letter from the city threatening them with $500 a day in fines plus a $3,500 nuisance fee, CBS San Francisco reports. Church members believe the sudden complaints about the choir are due to the fact the area is becoming gentrified.
“Kind of hard to believe because we’ve been here about 65 years in the community and all of a sudden we get some concerns about the noise,” Thomas A Harris III, the pastor at Pleasant Grove, told the local CBS station.
The church just happens to be in a neighborhood full of the Victorian homes that characterize the Bay Area, and they’re being snapped up by wealthy tech industry workers, church officials told CBS.
“Those persons who are just new arrivals should not come and try to change the culture that existed before they arrived here,” George Holland, president of the local NAACP branch, told CBS. “We cannot have people come attack churches about music.”
The NAACP is also criticizing the way the city is handling the matter by simply slapping the long-standing church with threats instead of seeking a dialogue between the church and people making the complaints for a resolution.
“There should have been discussions between the community and those people who are saying the church is making too much noise,” Holland told CBS.
The Oakland Creative Neighborhoods Coalition on Wednesday night addressed the complaints and said they’d work to protect the local churches at a meeting.
“We’re being bought out. We’re being moved out. We are being priced out of our own neighborhood,” Lawrence Van Hook, pastor at Community Church, told CBS.
Pastors at local black churches are considering holding outdoor services so everyone can enjoy the gospel music and said they plan to fight the city’s action, which they called a threat to all churches.
Pleasant Grove Baptist Church still plans to rehearse, as usual, on Thursday night.