KaCheryll Gantt of Avenue Grille
KaCheryll Gantt of Avenue Grille

PHOTO ESSAY | Eastside Jax ‘on the right path’

Published on August 31, 2022 at 5:02 pm

Photos and captions by Dennis Ho | Editing by Matthew Shaw | Intro by Jessica Palombo

The Eastside, or Out East, as residents know it, is the poster community for “withintrification” in Jacksonville. The once-vibrant historically Black neighborhood has struggled economically, but residents say they don’t need outsiders to drive improvements.

For Jacksonville Today, photographer Dennis Ho shares portraits of the residents who call the Eastside home and those working improve their lives.

Cars parading, Eastside
Cars parade the streets during the annual Eastside Reunion on Saturday, July 30. “Where else are you going to see this?” asks Cedric Williams, member of the Eastside Brotherhood (pictured above). “Nowhere else in Jacksonville.”
Problems, Melo and Trouble, three members of the Wicked Rydaz Motorcycle Club

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Julia Floyd, Eastside resident
Julia Floyd has one word to describe the Eastside: “Wonderful.” For this lifelong resident the attraction is simple: “My family is here. My friends are here.”
KaCheryll Gantt of Avenue Grille
Reverend Reginald Jones
As a 30-year resident of the Eastside, the Rev. Reginald Jones keeps close tabs on the planned growth of the neighborhood, meeting with the local developers who have designs on the Eastside. “I’m looking forward to these developments, we got a lot going on right now. Houses coming up. It’s gonna take a little time.”
Pearly Graham at her alteration business
Pearlie Graham has lived in the Eastside since 1968 and has owned her alteration business for going on 45 years. “It’s something that I just love, I like to see clothes look good,” she says. “It’s my passion.” Graham says during the entire 45 years, business has remained steady.
Assistant Pastor Willa Durham and her mother Pastor Pearlie Graham
Assistant Pastor Willa Durham and her mother Pastor Pearlie Graham at their church The Second Coming Second Chance Ministries on A. Philip Randolph. “[The Eastside] has the appearance of a safe, well-manicured area, but once the lights are off…” Willa Durham, passionate and upset, trails off and doesn’t finish. The assistant pastor who grew up on the Eastside, sees inequities with other neighborhoods. “We had a dead dog on the street. It took two days for the dog to go,” she says. “This would never go on in other communities. We don’t ask for much, the only thing we want is fair treatment.”
Brothers Terrell Cooper (left) and Cavon Cooper (right) outside the the Oakland Terrace Apartments on Franklin Street. Both brothers grew up on the Northside but moved to the Eastside four years ago. “It’s cheaper, it’s better,” says older brother Terrell. “But it’s boring. I be looking for something to do.” Terrell will leave this year to play football at Clark University in Atlanta.
Terrell and Cavon Cooper with their neighbors Cornell Cooper (left, no relation) and Corey Lackin. “Kids used to run around outside,” says Lackin, who was born on the Eastside. “But now they scared of the outside. They scared of gangs, they scared of the police. Ain’t nowhere safe. Keep your nose clean.”
Following an 18-year incarceration, Bruce Moye returned to his native Eastside, but this time he came back a changed man. “I came out with a different vision. I saw opportunities. They needed a beacon in the community. I said, ‘I can do that.’” Moye became the president of the Eastside Brotherhood, and his focus now is improving his surroundings. “We gotta do our job. We gotta come up with a system to create positive change in our space.”
Members of the Eastside Brotherhood, a neighborhood club founded in 1981.
Dr. Cohen
“I generally think of gentrification as being young, white, and adventurous, willing to live in a tough urban neighborhood and not be bothered by aesthetics initially,” says Dr. Irvin Cohen, executive director of LISC Jacksonville. “I want to redefine that gentry.” Cohen, a Duval native, is pictured here on an empty lot on the corner of Florida Avenue and Fourth Street, where LISC Jacksonville will break ground on five new homes in September. “The new homeowners are professionals. We have a school teacher, a pharmacist, architect, college professor and an entrepreneur. Out of all of those folks, three grew up here.” In return for down payment assistance, LISC expects the new residents to participate in “community literacy, financial literacy, and to engage in the politics of the community.”

author image Arts & Culture Editor Matthew Shaw is a writer, editor and musician. His writing has appeared in Folio Weekly, Edible Northeast Florida, The Surfer's Journal, and SURFER Magazine, and he's reported on national stories for The New York Times. He was previously editor in chief of the Void Magazine. author image Photographer Dennis Ho is an experienced Freelance Photographer with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. He is a strong arts and design professional with a M.Ed focused in Education; Adult Education from University of North Florida. author image Editor, Jacksonville Today Jessica Palombo is editor of Jacksonville Today Jacksonville is her hometown.
author image Arts & Culture Editor Matthew Shaw is a writer, editor and musician. His writing has appeared in Folio Weekly, Edible Northeast Florida, The Surfer's Journal, and SURFER Magazine, and he's reported on national stories for The New York Times. He was previously editor in chief of the Void Magazine. author image Photographer Dennis Ho is an experienced Freelance Photographer with a demonstrated history of working in the education management industry. He is a strong arts and design professional with a M.Ed focused in Education; Adult Education from University of North Florida. author image Editor, Jacksonville Today Jessica Palombo is editor of Jacksonville Today Jacksonville is her hometown.

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