The Conversation

#BlackCom2018 is finally here!

April 21, 2018 • bc

The final week before the conference has been full of last minute preparations. We have had dozens of conversations with presenters, registrants, and others who are just learning about the conference. On Friday, April 20th, we even had the pleasure of talking about the conference on WUNC radio’s program, The State of Things (listen here).  […]



April 19, 2018 • bc

By: Thomas Allen Harris In an increasingly fractured world, the family album might be the key to bringing people together. Thomas Allen Harris has been a documentary filmmaker for over 25 years and uses the family photo album to uncover personal truths about his immediate and extended family. His work is that of a deeply […]


What We Get Wrong About Closing the Racial Wealth Gap

April 18, 2018 • bc

Check out this new report by Black Communities Conference advisory board member, Williams Darity Jr., and his colleagues at the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Darrick Hamilton, Mark Paul, Alan Aja, Anne Price,Antonio Moore, and Caterina Chiopris! Full report: “The racial wealth gap is large and shows no signs of closing. Recent […]


Black Soldiers in America’s Race War

April 12, 2018 • bc

Black Soldiers in America’s Race War By Aya Shabu Had my grandfather been in Durham during the 1930s and 40s, Pettigrew Street is where you would have found him. The strip along Durham’s first railroad tracks was lined with dance halls, restaurants, movie theaters, and liquor houses. Hayti’s entertainment district was black-owned and financed by […]


In Search For Wakanda

April 9, 2018 • Mark Little

In Search For Wakanda: What “Black Panther” Teaches Us About the Decline of Black Entrepreneurship and the Black Community’s Search for its “Vibranium” Date: Monday April 23 Time: 6pm Location: School of Education Auditorium 700 Cecil Street Durham, NC (on the campus of NCCU) Free to the Public RSVP on Eventbrite At: In Coordination […]


Racism, Perfectionism & Depressive Symptoms in African American Youth (Guest Contribution!)

March 26, 2018 • Pretti Polk

The Association of Racism, Perfectionism and Depressive Symptoms in African American Youth By: Pretti Polk (guest contributor) African American youth experience racial discrimination at an alarming rate compared to other ethnic groups, thus increasing their risk for physical, emotional and behavioral symptoms secondary to perfectionistic behavior.  Exposure to racism for African American youth can have […]


Collisions: History, Home and Storytelling

March 19, 2018 • bc

By Tanya L. Shields   The recently-released special issue of the academic journal Cultural Dynamics emerged from a past conference, Telling Our Stories of Home: Exploring and Celebrating Changing African and African-Diaspora Communities (TOSH,  In 2016, dramatic arts specialist, Kathy Perkins, and I hosted this dynamic conference that was funded by the National Endowment for […]


Preserve the Baltimore Uprising & Oral History

March 5, 2018 • bc

Preserve the Baltimore Uprising is a digital repository that seeks to preserve and make accessible original content that was captured and created by individual community members, grassroots organizations, and witnesses to the protests that followed the death of Freddie Gray on April 19, 2015. Gray died from injuries sustained while in police custody in Baltimore, […]


Black Panther – the Experience

February 20, 2018 • bc

By Amatullah King I was browsing through graphic novels in Forbidden Planet, a well-known comic book store in New York’s Union Square, when I come upon two black teens discussing the powers of one of the characters in a book they were reading.  Suddenly, one boy shoved the comic book back on the shelf and, […]


Environmental Racism, Environmental Justice and Black Communities

February 19, 2018 • bc

Danielle conducts interviews in Studio South Zero. Photo credit Torkwase Dyson How has environmental racism impacted Black communities?  A recent Press Record two-part podcast series examined this question by interviewing two scholars who have used oral history to understand environmental racism and efforts for environmental justice in Lowndes County, Alabama, Baden, NC, and Mebane, NC.  […]


Sounds of the Past: Audio Clips from Historic Black Towns & Settlements

February 5, 2018 • bc

  (Photo caption: Early members of the Eatonville, FL city council.  See:   In April 2015, the Historic Black Towns and Settlements Alliance (HBTSA) held a meeting at UNC.  HBTSA’s missions is “to protect and preserve for future generations the heritage, history and cultural traditions of Alliance members such that those who follow will […]


Playwright Howard Craft on a Changing Durham

January 16, 2018 • Karla Slocum

We love this opinion piece by Durham native and award-winning playwright, Howard Craft. He shares his experience growing up in Durham and details the city’s spaces that were important of his formative years and professional development of his family and him.  Ultimately, we believe he gets to the heart of why Durham —it’s history, institutions, […]


Dr. Pearlie Dove and Educational Equity

December 18, 2017 • Mark Little

Black communities have long faced educational inequalities and many have advocated for equity and resources for Black students and schools, and what is today often called “ the academic achievement gap.” An interview with Dr. Pearlie Dove  engages these themes.  Dove was an African American woman and an educator at Clark College (later Clark-Atlanta University) […]


Family Pictures USA!

December 14, 2017 • Mark Little

Family Pictures USA is a television series & transmedia project that explores neighborhoods & cities through the lens of the family photo album. Hosted by Thomas Allen Harris, this public television series enlarges our understanding of history, our diversity, and our shared values.  Community Photo Share Guests bring their favorite photos – digital or print […]


Four Months to Go!

December 13, 2017 • Karla Slocum

We began planning Black Communities: A Conference for Collaboration last April.  Over the course of these past eight months, we have been excited by the prospects of what could materialize out of our planning.  Our hope? A unique event that brings together hundreds of people from diverse personal and professional backgrounds who all share a […]


Soulfood and Black Foodways

December 4, 2017 • bc

Caption for photo: Photo of Ms. Mamie Barnes, taken by interviewer Kimber Thomas. The Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) collection of interviews includes many interviews about soul food and Black foodways.  For example, in March 2015, SOHP field scholar Kimber Thomas conducted an interview with Mamie Barnes in Hinds County, Mississippi. At the time, Ms. […]


Remembering Black Main Streets

November 20, 2017 • bc

In 2002 and 2003, the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) conducted a series of interviews on “Remembering Black Main Streets,” focused on Savannah, GA, Jacksonville, FL, and Greensboro, NC.  Business owners and residents reflected on changes in southern Black businesses in the wake of urban renewal and desegregation.  All interviews are held in the SOHP […]


African-American Credit Unions

November 6, 2017 • bc

During the Jim Crow era when it was nearly impossible for Black people to get a loan from white-run banks, African American community leaders established their own credit unions as an alternative means of saving and borrowing money.  The first African American credit union in North Carolina was founded in 1918.  The number continued to […]


Election Season: Annie Brown Kennedy, Black Voting Rights and Black Elected Officials

October 24, 2017 • bc

Election Season: Annie Brown Kennedy, Black Voting Rights and Black Elected Officials “…[W]e have not acquired full freedom.  The movement continues…even though at this point it appears that we have access to a few more opportunities, we are not yet full citizens in terms of our definition of what a full citizen is or should be. […]


The Fillmore Boys School in 1877

October 23, 2017 • bc

By Mishio Yamanaka The Fillmore Boys School in 1877 is a digital mapping project that visualizes the public school segregation process at the end of Reconstruction in New Orleans, Louisiana. Using the Fillmore School register from 1877, the project traces how African American communities resisted segregation.   The Fillmore School Building ca. 1900s (renamed as […]


Where are the memories? Exploring Black Community Archives

October 16, 2017 • bc

By Chaitra M. Powell, African American Collections and Outreach Archivist at UNC Chapel Hill   October is officially National Archives Month. Many libraries and archives will be launching social media campaigns and sponsoring programs that highlight their special collections and encourage people to learn more about why archives are so important. The archival landscape reflects […]


New Exhibit about Housing Inequality and Durham’s Black Communities

October 9, 2017 • bc

The conference Black Communities: A Conference for Collaboration will take place at the Carolina Theater in Durham, NC, also known as the “Bull City,” in April 2018.  In preparation for Durham’s sesquicentennial in 2019, a group of historians and community members formed the Bull City 150 project to document and interrogate the city’s past. An exhibit based […]


Announcing a Call for Proposals

October 3, 2017 • Mark Little

We are happy to announce a Call for Proposals! Please share this Call for Proposals with anyone else who might be interested. Whether or not you submit a proposal, we hope to see you at the conference! Submit a Proposal Black Communities Historic Towns like Boley, Oklahoma, Princeville, North Carolina, Eatonville, Florida, and Africville, Nova […]


West Southern Pines, an early African American town

September 25, 2017 • bc

West Southern Pines was one of the first incorporated African American towns in North Carolina. From 1923 to 1931, the town operated with its own mayor, city council, and municipal services.  In early 2017 the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) completed processing a group of twenty-six interviews conducted by Nancy Mason, an oral historian for […]


Oklahoma Black Town Stories

September 13, 2017 • Karla Slocum

In 1993, my mother told me that my grandparents, who I visited often in New York, once lived in one of Oklahoma’s historic “All Black Towns.”  These towns, that were then unknown to me and are still little-known to much of America, were where black Americans settled beginning in the 19th century to create spaces […]


What These Woods Remember: A Community History Project

August 25, 2017 • Rachel Cotterman

Back Ways is a project of the Southern Oral History Program (SOHP) that works to understand the social experience of racial segregation in the rural South.  Through archival research and the collection of oral histories, the project examines how roads in Black communities have been erased or neglected during the process of creating and mapping major roadways.  […]


Charlottesville, Virginia

August 16, 2017 • Karla Slocum

The world is reeling from the racism and violence on display in Charlottesville this past weekend.  Some are reeling in disbelief because they agree with, Terry McAuliffe, the governor of Virginia who said: “this is not who we are.” And yet others are reeling because they believe that what happened in Charlottesville is another reminder […]


Looking back at the Historic Black Towns 2015 Workshop

August 9, 2017 • Mark Little

Back in the spring of 2015, UNC hosted a dynamic workshop for the mayors and municipal staffs of eight Historic Black Towns: Tuskegee, AL; Hobson City, AL; Eatonville, FL; Grambling, LA; and Mound Bayou, Miss; East Spencer, NC; Navassa, NC; and Princeville, NC. Most of these towns were formed in the decades following Reconstruction and are characterized by independence, shelter from discrimination, and emancipation. Today, these and other historic Black towns, survive as a testament to the enduring spirit of their founders. I had the great fortune to co-moderate the conference workshops with Kenneth Janken, Professor of African, African American, and Diaspora Studies.


Welcome to Black Communities: A Conference for Collaboration!

August 1, 2017 • Karla Slocum

We are very excited to host a dynamic, community-engaged conference about Black communities. Just eight months away, the event will take place on April 23-25 in Durham, North Carolina, a few blocks from the city’s historic Black Wall Street district and Hayti community. A century ago, the famed educators, W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington, pinned up Durham as the site of remarkable happenings among Black Americans. Fittingly, our conference will examine what is happening and what can happen with Black communities today.


Why Black Communities?

June 16, 2017 • Mark Little

Join a global network of community leaders, researchers and others committed to understanding the past, present and future of Black communities • Discuss opportunities and challenges facing Black communities • Share your knowledge and/or research about Black communities • Network with a diverse group of attendees including community members, historians, artists, public health experts, and more • Access useful resources including new data sources and archival materials • Experience a highly-interactive, innovative conference with unique workshops and excursions.








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