Rubicon Productions, Inc. and Western Reserve Public Media are pleased to announce a new documentary available for Black History Month 2020. An Answer from Akron tells a unique story about a group of young African American men who, at the height of the Civil Rights movement, were in the right place to answer a call for help. The place is Akron, Ohio whose history includes Sojourner Truth’s delivering her historic “Ain’t I a Woman” speech, John Brown’s home and headquarters for many of his anti-slavery campaigns and Fritz Pollard’s becoming the NFL’s first African American coach. Building upon these and other such historical milestones, members of the local chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha, the nation’s oldest African American fraternity, became the first black organization to receive Federal funding for affordable housing. With virtually no experience, these men launched a program to provide housing for their friends and families who had been displaced from their homes due to an aggressive urban renewal program. This achievement is historic not only because it was the first of its kind, but because it also represents a successful case study in affordable housing still in operation today more than fifty years later. An Answer from Akron follows Akron as it evolves from a small village to the fastest growing city in America. During the early 20th century, the city became home to names such as Goodrich, Firestone and Goodyear making it the “rubber capital of the world”. With this unprecedented growth came problems. The city was home to one of the country’s largest chapters of the Ku Klux Klan and African Americans were systemically disenfranchised from all aspects of city life. In particular, housing became a constant challenge for people of color. The Great Depression complicated these issues as housing problems multiplied not only in Akron, but across the nation. All eyes turned to Washington, D.C. and the federal government for relief. Help came from a passionate activist named Catherine Bauer whose acclaimed book, Modern Housing, led to the passage of the Wagner-Steagall Act, the Federal Housing Act of 1937. Signed by President Roosevelt, the law committed the federal government, for the first time,” to help remedy the unsafe housing conditions and the acute shortage of decent and safe dwellings for low-income families.” Through a series of political maneuvers affordable housing, by the 1950’s, was linked to urban renewal prompting critics to refer to Urban Renewal as “Negro Removal”. As Akron’s urban renewal program began replacing hastily-built structures from the rubber industry boom, over two thousand people were displaced from the Opportunity Park area of the city. Most of the displaced citizens were African American and many were senior citizens. These residents were forced to leave their neighborhoods behind with no place to go. The stage was set for local members of Alpha Phi Alpha to rise to the occasion, combat racial barriers and ultimately succeed in building affordable housing for those in need. While similar projects in other cities have failed and been demolished, those in Akron continue to thrive and serve their original purpose.