Honoring Black History Series: This month as a part of our commitment to honor black history, Access team members will be sharing about businesses, books, literature, stories, podcasts, films, songs, or pieces of art created by black authors, leaders, entrepreneurs, and artists that have impacted us.
By Erin Skidmore, Good Food Systems Coordinator
“In the early twentieth century, Parrish Street in Durham, North Carolina, was the hub of African American business activity. This four-block district was known as “Black Wall Street”, a reference to the district of New York City that is home to the New York Stock Exchange and the nation’s great financial firms. Although other cities had similar districts, Durham’s was one of the most vital, and was nationally known.” (Closing the Hunger Gap, 2019)
- Why do you want to share this with others?
Black Wall Street is something I had, unfortunately, never heard about until this past fall. I’d like to share this with others as I believe it’s an important piece of culture and history and something for us to consider in the conversation of economics, white privilege, and the wealth of people today. Learning even a little bit about Black Wall Street has challenged and encouraged me to consider where my money is spent, who my money supports, and what it means to support the community in which I live. It is also important for us to think about ‘development’, progress, hiring practices, and gentrification – something that’s happening in communities all over the country – and ask the questions, “for who?” and “what is the impact?”
- How did you find out about it?
I had the opportunity and privilege to learn about Black Wall Street of Durham, NC through the Closing the Hunger Gap Conference in 2019. While there for the conference, we visited a credit union on Parrish Street and heard from local leaders about the history of Parrish Street, their own experiences living in Durham, and a little bit about what Parrish Street is like today.
- What shifted for you when you learned about Black Wall Street?
My learning and exposure to Black Wall Street (and other conversations and learning opportunities -Tunde Wey) has caused me to think more about wealth building in and with communities of color. It’s also challenged me to think about what sacrifices I can make as a white person, especially financially, to support and contribute to the wealth building of people of color. I can make the choice to shop or eat at businesses owned by people of color in my local community to make a greater impact and consider the impact of my dollar.