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Historical marker placed to commemorate the Better Homes of South Bend

SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- Digging deep into the roots of South Bend's history and celebrating courage of the past. The Far Northwest Neighborhood of South Bend proudly unveiled the new Indiana Historical Bureau marker on Saturday.

The historical marker commemorated the first housing co-op for African-Americans in the city.

Their efforts, to build good homes for their families, came at a time of discrimination and segregation. 

Yet, they prevailed. 

That marker is now on display at the corner of Elmer and Keller Streets. 

"I was real small and he used to tell us stories of how he grew up and how he struggled over there, and couldn't get housing," recalls Beverly Reynolds, one of the daughters of Leroy Cobb, who is the last living member of the co-op.

It's a legacy that is living on.

"The historic marker is the first marker recognizing the contribution of African-Americans to South Bend's history," says Gabrielle Robinson.

Robinson authored a book entitled "Better Homes of South Bend: An American Story of Courage." 

Her book documents the testimonies and struggles of the community who fought for a place to live with their families. 

The legacy is now rooted in South Bend's soil: showing how hard work and determination can accomplish what some would say, was impossible.

"[It] acknowledges the work and the achievements of Better Homes [who] stood up against discrimination," adds Robinson. 

It's a two block radius.

The Better Homes of South Bend marks where the African-American community built their dreams in the 1950's amid a segregated society./

"Every time we acknowledge the past...well the real reason we do it, is in order to have a better future," explains Mayor Pete Buttigeg.

At the unveiling ceremony, old and young gathered to remember.

It's a pride that spans from generation to generation.

"For the world that we live, and that those little kids are growing up in," explains Buttigeg. "We need to acknowledge our past and the good, the bad, and the ugly."

"This is one of my granddaughters," says Reynolds, holding an infant. "They'll learn the history of it. We'll tell them about it."

The historical marker shows the strides South Bend has made over the years.

"I hope that they learn the struggles that my father and the rest of the neighbors had to go through to get housing over here," adds Reynolds. 

But it also, for some, points out what they feel needs to be worked on in the future.

"Frankly, there are some in Washington who are seeking to divide us along racial lines," says Buttigeg. "[So] we come together as a community and recognize and celebrate what we have in common."

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