There is a Scripture in the Bible (New Testament) that states “can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46) The writer was making reference to the prevailing thought about the city of Nazareth.
The whole country of Galilee was held in contempt among the Jews. Nazareth was viewed harshly and with regional stereotypes by the Jews. Nazareth was deemed as so horrible a place that other Galileans themselves held it in contempt. It was a place others could hardly think any good would derive from. A regional bias prevailed.
If we look at our own city, the same can be said of Dalton. A regional bias prevails.
Here in Dalton, we have the Cleveland Highway area, the Dug Gap Road area, the south bypass area, the Fifth Avenue area, downtown Dalton and then east Dalton. Traditionally, east Dalton has been called New Town — now deemed politically incorrect in terminology.
Often, east Dalton or New Town is characterized as crime filled, drug infested, gang dominated, a domestic violence haven, with subpar housing, educational malnutrition, with a high rate of teenage pregnancies. This bias makes it difficult for persons to have an open mind about this area of Dalton. New Town conjures up negative stereotypical images.
It must be noted that the history of New Town does have episodes of drug dealing and drug usage. The streets of Fredrick, McAfee, Straight and Greenridge Drive (the heart of New Town) were known to be a place where drugs (especially crack cocaine) could be sold and bought.
New Town has seen days wherein lives were lost due to a drug deal gone bad. New Town has seen days wherein females were sexually abused and/or exploited for profit. New Town has seen days wherein due to financial distress, persons have committed burglary or theft-related offenses in an effort to feed their families.
Because of this negative past environment, New Town has had to live down this image. It has been difficult to accomplish. Greenridge Drive was the location for a government housing unit in New Town. It was demolished so that its property could be used for the new Mack Gaston Community Center. The new community center has sprung up like a phoenix in this area with hope changing this negative image and revitalizing New Town.
In retrospect, New Town has also seen lives impacted in a positive way. On the streets of New Town there were persons living in government housing units, living in single-family housing units and apartments that were good, hardworking Christians who raised God-fearing, productive, law-abiding children. These children now occupy greater Dalton.
In the midst of the New Town drama, these families maintained their integrity. They respected the police. They stressed education. They believed in family values. They believed in God. They did their absolute best to provide for their families and to raise them to respect themselves, others and God.
The heart of New Town had patriarchs and matriarchs that would not allow the negative stereotypes of New Town to define them. In spite of their location, or maybe because of their location, they did not waver in their desire to raise some of Dalton’s finest citizens.
From New Town came ministers, police officers, nurses, teachers, textile mill workers, carpenters, electricians, barbers, beauticians, librarians, social service workers, creelers, waiters, cooks, cashiers, fast-food service workers and others in many other notable occupations. Some took their talents, their education and their gifts elsewhere. Some of them remained here to be a blessing to the Dalton community at large.
Can any good thing come out of Nazareth? Jesus Christ did.
Can any good thing come out of New Town? The answer is a loud, resounding “Yes.”
Regional stereotypes, bias or preconceived notions could not stop or deny the good citizens that New Town produced. Up from the neighborhood ashes of New Town they rise and still rise to positively serve this community.
The Rev. Rodney B. Weaver, pastor of Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church and a product of New Town