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Cornelius News

Black History Month event at Cain Center will highlight Smithville

Feb. 22. Cornelius’ Black History Month program at the Cain Center for the Arts this Saturday will feature art by Charlotte artist John Robert “Trey” Miles III, poetry and a presentation to honor the annexation of Smithville into the town of Cornelius 50 years ago.

The program runs from noon to 2 pm.

Smithville history

Cornelius remained an almost exclusively white community until Smithville was annexed in 1972, 13 years after the neighborhood asked for annexation.

Nannie H. Potts

The late Nannie Potts, who would become the first African American mayor here, told the Charlotte Observer that “We need to be together. We need to be with a community. It’s not going to help Smithville immediately, but it will help in years to come.”

Potts was elected to the Cornelius Town Board in 1980, and became mayor pro tem because she got the most votes. When Mayor Wesley Rood suddenly quit, Potts became mayor, serving from 1982-1983. She didn’t want to run for mayor again, but was elected as a commissioner.

Still work to do

The 2023 town budget includes $3 million set aside for the Smithville Revitalization Plan designed to improve conditions in Smithville, which has suffered from neglect over the years according to Smithville Community Coalition officials as well as community residents.

Through the plan, organizers hope to retain as many existing and historic structures as possible, get sidewalks and wider streets, fix sewer-water issues and at the same time provide workforce housing that also allows current residents to stay in their homes.