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7/9/2017 11:44:00 AM
Historical marker commemorates South Bend's first African-American neighborhood
Leroy Cobb looks on during a ceremony for a state historical marker commemorating the Better Homes of South Bend development Saturday. His was one of the original families moving into the neighborhood in the 1950s. Staff photo by Robert Frnklin
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Leroy Cobb looks on during a ceremony for a state historical marker commemorating the Better Homes of South Bend development Saturday. His was one of the original families moving into the neighborhood in the 1950s. Staff photo by Robert Frnklin

Lincoln Wright, South Bend Tribune

SOUTH BEND — Standing on the corner of Elmer and Keller streets in South Bend Saturday, Leroy Cobb pointed out a stone sticking out of ground.

What was once a very large stone, he said, is now sunken, the top of it smooth from years of weather. The stone was significant to Cobb because he placed it on the street corner about 65 years ago when he moved to the neighborhood with his wife and son in the 1950s.

Although the stone may only hold significance to Cobb, it was part of something much bigger — the first South Bend neighborhood built for African-American families.

Facing discrimination in the housing market, and barred from even buying homes in many parts of the city in the 1950s, the 1700 and 1800 blocks of North Elmer Street were turned into the Better Homes of South Bend housing cooperative so African-American families could own good homes.

Cobb was back in the northwest neighborhood Saturday, along with many others, to commemorate the neighborhood and unveil a new historical marker from the state. Indiana historical markers commemorate significant individuals, organizations, places and events. The marker program is run by the Indiana Historical Bureau, a state agency that relies on public nominations in making selections for new markers.

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