Expanding cultural awareness continues to be the focus of programming involving the Bexley Minority Parents Alliance and Scott King-Owen, a social studies teacher at Bexley High School.

"Economic Inequality: Bexley as a Case Study" was the topic of an Oct. 16 program the association and King-Owen presented at the Bexley Public Library.

During the presentation, King-Owen traced the history of African-Americans in Bexley back to the post-Civil War era. In 1868, an African-American farmer named Thomas Payton purchased 19 acres in central Bexley in 1868, according to King-Owen.

As real estate in Bexley began to appreciate in value in the 20th century, it became more difficult for African-American families like the Paytons to maintain a standard of living to stay in the community, King-Owen said. Part of the reason, he said, was that the nation's economy shifted from an agriculture base and became industrialized, making it harder for families of limited means to live off the land.

"As Bexley became fashionable and more people moved into the community, it became harder for people like the Paytons to remain in Bexley," King-Owen said.

By 1968, according to King-Owen's research, there were only eight black families in Bexley out of a population of 14,800.

Although economics played a role, other factors included deed restrictions in the early 20th century that barred property owners from selling to African-Americans. The deed restrictions were outlawed in 1948 but contributed to economic inequality in society at large, King-Owen said.

Of Bexley's current population of about 14,000, 88 percent of the population is white, 5.8 percent is African- American, 1.9 percent is Hispanic and 1.1 percent is Asian, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

King-Owen also spoke about the history of the Ferndale Place/Mayfield Place neighborhood in south Bexley. The city has launched revitalization efforts in the area, with a program to buy rental properties as they become available and developing athletics fields that are scheduled to open next year. The city is also working to remediate environmental contamination from the landfill that was in the area in the 1930s.

A developer bought land in the Ferndale/Mayfield area in the 1960s and built apartment buildings that offered a housing option for Bexley residents with limited incomes, King-Owen said.

King-Owen's presentation was a follow-up to a program that BMPA presented at the library last December on the "Hidden History of African Americans in Bexley." BMPA organized this year's program after numerous residents asked for more information, said Brian Drewry, a representative of the organization.

"Talking with Dr. Scott King-Owen, he had indicated that he had found additional research. A lot of people had asked about this, including people from other communities," Drewry said. "We wanted to make sure to expound on that as one of our highlight events for the Bexley Minority Parents Alliance."

BMPA was founded in summer 2015 by a group of families who are working to advocate for policies in the Bexley City School District that support minority students and promote diversity, said Jonathan Baker, the organization's president.

"We're to help expand cultural awareness in Bexley. We want all students to succeed, but especially those who have minority children," he said. "We want everyone to be a part of it. If you want to help minority parents and students to succeed, then be a part of it."

BMPA has held a variety of events over the years, including an October 2016 tour of the Bexley Police Department's headquarters at 559 N. Cassingham Road and a back-to-school picnic to welcome new families.

The organization will host a holiday potluck at 3 p.m. Dec. 9 in the Bexley Public Library's auditorium, 2411 E. Main St.

For more information, visit bexleyminorities.wixsite.com/bmpa.

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