New exhibit explores Black displacement caused by the construction of I-496

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WEDNESDAY, SEPT. 22 — Next time you take a stroll downtown, you can learn about a crucial and all but forgotten piece of Lansing history. The Historical Society of Greater Lansing, the City of Lansing and the National Parks Service are putting together a new exhibit that tells the story of the construction of the I-496 expressway in 1964, which resulted in the vast destruction of a historic Black Lansing neighborhood.

“Pave the Way: The I-496 Project” debuts with a grand opening ceremony Friday at the Knapp’s Centre at 300 S. Washington Ave. The ceremony includes guided tours that highlight how this chapter in Lansing’s history was tragic for the Black community. Speakers include Mayor Andy Schor, Ingham County Register of Deeds Derrick Quinney, "Pave the Way" program coordinator Greta McHaney Trice and former I-496 corridor residents Frank Spagnuolo and Mary Jane McGuire.

In accordance with COVID-19 safety precautions, the exhibit will be viewable streetside. The exhibit is formed by 10 fascinating tableaus placed in the windows of the Knapp’s Centre. Each window covers the construction of the expressway by highlighting a different theme and subject, including its impact on businesses, churches and schools. “Pave the Way” also explores the other cultural aspects affected by the massive expressway’s construction, such as sports and music.

The exhibit was created by the Historical Society with help from an advisory group consisting of former I-496 corridor residents and their family members. The Historical Society said in a press release that the intent of the display is “to continue the conversation surrounding the construction of the expressway and the destruction of more than 600 homes and 200 businesses.”

“Pave the Way” will also eventually include an online database of houses that were along the I-496 corridor, a film documentary and a hands-on exhibit at the Library of Michigan. You can learn more about the project and its progress by visiting the Historical Society of Greater Lansing's website.

"Pave the Way: The I-496 Project" Grand Opening

Friday, Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m.

Knapp's Centre

300 S. Washington Ave., Lansing

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