August 2020: Black history & life in Durham

We met on August 3rd to discuss Black history & life in Durham. Our discussion leader was Matthew Bachman, who also curated the resources below.

Prior to the meeting, we chose articles from these sections. We chose articles and topics that interested us the most, or if we felt lost, we used a random number generator to choose between one of the 3 topics below.

1. History and culture

One of the most interesting pieces of local Black history is that for a period of time Durham enjoyed quite a bit of financial success. This led to its its nickname as “Black Wall Street” (article & interview). Black Wall Street coincided with the rise of the Hayti neighborhood (wikipedia & short interview), which began as a hub for freedmen and turned into the cultural center of the local community. Unfortunately Hayti is no longer around, as it was demolished for the construction of Highway 147 in the name of urban renewal (academic article).

2. Durham leaders of the Civil Rights Movement

Durham was also a an active part of the civil rights movement. Perhaps the most famous individual was Douglas Moore (obituary), who organized many sit-ins and protests (and apparently was quite the provocateur). Durham was also the home of Pauli Murray (article), another civil rights advocate who particularly pushed for women’s rights. There are also some questions concerning her gender identity that some may find interesting to explore.

3. Current issues and topics

Present day Durham is enduring many of the hardships that we might expect – police brutality/harassment (interview) and gentrification. I’m sure that there are other topics that we could discuss.

Articles that we discussed and/or surfaced during the meeting include:

Interested in joining us next time? Email us at to join our list-serv. We also have a Slack workspace!

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