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  • Writer's pictureNia Clark

S3 E7 Race, Class and Politics in Black Durham

An exploration of the complicated intersection of race, class and politics in Durham, North Carolina. Black Durham’s leaders played an integral role in the “Upbuilding” of their community and overcame great obstacles that were common at the time in the Jim Crow South. In the absence of African American political representation after Jim Crow legislation eviscerated Black political participation, Durham’s Black leaders became de facto representatives on behalf of their community, which allowed them to liaise with White city and state leadership in order to facilitate community progress. This does not mean African American leaders in Durham solely relied on a paternalistic relationship with White stakeholders to assist in the advancement of their race. Durham’s African American leaders leaned heavily on their own expertise and institution building acumen to create opportunities for people of color in Durham that continued to pay dividends for years to come. On the other hand, there were other African Americans districts in Durham and most of their inhabitants were not well off like the Black elite or middle class in the historic Hayti neighborhood. Many African Americans and people of color in Durham were poor or working class and struggled to make ends meet. This fact is often absent in discourse surrounding Durham’s Black Wall Street. Class distinctions between the wealthy or well-off, the poor, and everyone in between in Black Durham, mirrored those of White Durham. Additionally, while racism was a burden for all people of color, class distinctions often determined the degree to which that burden impacted the daily lives of Blacks in Durham.

Listeners will hear from the late Dr. Leslie Brown, who was an expert in the history of Black Durham and specialized in history during the Jim Crow Era. Guests in this episode include Dr. William Darity, who is the Director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, a Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, a Professor of African and African American Studies as well as Economics. Listeners will also hear from Professor Henry McKoy, who is the North Carolina Central University Director of Entrepreneurship at the School of Business and Managing Director of the Eagle Angel Network.

There was a widespread pattern of intimidation, not just in North Carolina, but across the Southern states, with the intent of obstructing black political participation, particularly in the electoral process. This is a pattern that existed from the period of the decline of the reconstruction era and the reconstruction era...was deconstructed if you will, by the white supremacists, again, with high degrees of violence. ~Dr. William Darity

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Guests in this episode

Duke University Professor William Darity

NCCU Professor Henry McKoy

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