Durham Native & Black Pioneer: Ben Ruffin

By Brigette Bagley

February 22, 2024

It is Black History Month, which means you have likely seen social media posts and news articles commemorating the most influential Black pioneers in American history. But have you heard of Ben Ruffin in these posts or articles?

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‘I’m just so happy that I get to make a difference’: The Story of Elijah King

By Audrey Kashatus

December 11, 2023

Elijah King was born and raised in Durham with his mom and little sister. By the time King turned 18-years-old, he had moved 11 different times.  King grew up witnessing things most kids his age couldn’t have imagined. He saw eviction, moving places under 24 hours, crashing at his grandparent’s house and even different pastor’s […]

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The roots of the work: Blair LM Kelley’s process to publishing ‘Black Folk’

By Jessica F. Simmons

November 9, 2023

Blair LM Kelley, author of Black Folk: The Roots of the Black Working Class, shared insights on incorporating her ancestral line into her book’s writing process during the Writer’s Discussion Series Lecture last Thursday evening, November 2. Kelley is a Ph.D. holder in History with certificates in African and African American studies and women’s studies […]

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‘Our stories deserve to be told’: Stagville Memorial Project aims to bring more equitable and diverse history to downtown Durham

By Morgan Brenner

October 17, 2023

Ricky Hart has known about his ancestry since he was a child, when his father took him on visits to their family home, the Hart House: a small cabin located on what used to be the Bennehan-Cameron Stagville Plantation and is now home to Historic Stagville.  Historic Stagville is located 10 miles north of downtown […]

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Celebrating a pioneering Black community newspaper

By Carl Kenney

April 12, 2022

Some claim that it’s always Black History Month — so then it’s never too late to celebrate the pioneering work of a bold and enterprising young Black journalist, Milton B. Robinson who, in 1945 launched The Harris Herald, billed proudly as the “Only Negro Newspaper in Rutherford County.”             Robinson’s publication was a groundbreaking, heroic […]

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DCI honors MLK’s legacy

By Carl Kenney

January 27, 2021

In this month of celebration of the life and work of Martin Luther King, Jr., the Durham Children’s Initiative has recreated the slain civil rights leader’s iconic “I Have A Dream” speech, as read by various teens from Durham. Give a listen.

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‘Beginning of an era’: Durham artist commemorates activists

By Julia Masters

April 2, 2020

Crouching with a power tool in hand, Durham artist Stephen Hayes pressed chicken wire over an aluminum base and drilled it into place. Soon the structure was covered in smooth slate, and the acrylic top covered in a collage of old news clippings and photographs was placed on top. This marker now sits permanently outside the […]

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Hayti Heritage Center celebrates jazz drummer Max Roach

By Victoria Johnson

January 30, 2020

Jazz legend Max Roach’s drums beat again Saturday night when five local musicians interpreted his rhythms to about 50 listeners at the Hayti Heritage Center. The concert, called “Freedom Day: A Tribute to Max Roach,” celebrated one of the most important drummers in modern jazz history, the Hayti musicians said. A North Carolina native born […]

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Annual MLK Day Unity March and Rally sheds light and brings hope to Durham

By Anthony DeHart, Sophia Wilhelm, Landon Bost and Brandon Callender

Monday morning, Jan. 20, about 250 marchers gathered in front of the NC Mutual Life building for Durham’s annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March and Rally. The group gathered for a short opening, then marched to First Presbyterian Church on East Main Street where speakers addressed the crowd from the pulpit. Every year, […]

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Exhibit, coalition highlight Durham housing inequality

By Matthew Audilet

An exhibit created through a joint effort by First Presbyterian Church and Duke University Chapel entitled “Uneven Ground” opened on Jan. 3 to highlight the history of housing inequality and racial segregation in downtown Durham. Originally commissioned in 2019 for the 150th anniversary of Durham’s founding, the exhibit now serves as a tool for reflection, […]

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Commentary: Reconsidering our place in extractive journalism

By Courtney Staton

March 27, 2019

  Earlier this month, as part of the NeXt Doc Fellows, a fellowship which promotes 20 to 24-year-olds identified as the next generation of documentary filmmakers, I attended the True/False Documentary Film Festival in Columbia, Missouri. I watched “The Commons,” a film about the protests surrounding the Silent Sam statue and the Pit. I watched […]

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John Gattis’ hit musical ‘Swing School’ returns to Hillside High

By Will Shropshire

February 27, 2019

After 47 years, “Swing School,” a community favorite production for many decades, returned to the stage at Hillside High School. The Hillside High School Drama Department – under the direction of Wendell Tabb –  put on four performances of its new adaptation, called “Hallelujah! Swing School,”  from Feb. 15-17. The production has long been a Hillside […]

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Durham’s black community shines at Black History Month parade and party

By Johnny Sobczak

February 13, 2019

  On an unseasonably warm Saturday morning, Fayetteville Street was even busier than normal as hundreds of Durham residents showed up for the 17th Annual North Carolina MLK Black History Month Parade & Block Party. The event, presented by Spectacular Magazine, is held on the first Saturday of every February. For entertainment columnist Tameka Nichole, […]

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“Meet the Heroes” event inspires children of all ages

By Cheyenne Beasley and Courtney Staton

Children skipped up the steps in excitement on their way to the second annual “Meet the Heroes” event at New Creation United Methodist Church in Durham. The event celebrated six prominent figures from black history through interactive activities. For Albert Shuler, the pastor of New Creation United Methodist Church, the focus on children was particularly […]

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Mount Vernon Baptist Church honors Black History Month with free events

By Spencer Carney and Veronica Correa

This Black History Month, Mount Vernon Baptist Church on Roxboro Street in Durham will acknowledge the past with films, books and faith. The Durham church will have free film screenings every Wednesday in February at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday morning discussions at 9:30 a.m. It hosted a conversation on the autobiography “Proud Shoes: The Story […]

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Bull city prepares for Phoenix Fest 2018

By Deja Finch

September 24, 2018

  The fall season may be in full swing as Durham prepares for its 17th annual Phoenix Fest. Held at 908 Fayetteville Street, the free public festival will be on  Saturday, Oct. 6 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s theme “Come Early, Stay Late”  encourages visitors to participate in numerous activities and enjoy […]

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Writers recount their experiences with desegregation at Hillside High School

By Maria Elena Vizcaino

March 28, 2018

Among laughter, letters and many cups of coffee at a Durham bakery four years ago, Cindy Waszak Geary mentioned to her writing group that she graduated from Hillside High School. “First, I didn’t believe her,” LaHoma Smith Romocki said. “I had to give her a test — ‘Do you remember this? Do you remember that? […]

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Children ‘Meet the Heroes’ of black history

By Katie Rice

February 28, 2018

Eight-year-old Merone Tennant and her mother, Candy, stand in a hall of New Creation United Methodist Church on Clarendon Street in Durham. The two hunch over a map of the upper floor of the church overlaid with images of historic African-American figures, deciding who to visit next. Tennant has already been to Jackie Robinson’s room, […]

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Annual Black History program honors leaders

By Maddie Marshall

History has a way of repeating itself. At Antioch Baptist Church, one could see the history of black excellence continued to repeat itself. On Sunday, Feb. 25, Antioch Baptist Church in Durham held its annual African-American History Celebration program. The event featured numerous speakers, performers, honorees and representatives from outside the Durham community. Ebenezer Baptist […]

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Durham’s battle with Confederate statues

By Ramishah Maruf

After protesters toppled a Durham Confederate statue in August, the city began the process to form a commission to find out exactly what to do with both the base of the statue and the remaining Confederate symbols. The committee, led by Wendy Jacobs, Durham County Board of Commissioners chair, and Mayor Steve Schewel, has two […]

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Black History Month Parade introduces block party, attracts all ages

By Kenzie Cook

February 14, 2018

North Carolina’s Annual Black History Month Parade has partied its way down Fayetteville Street past NCCU’s campus for nearly 20 years. But the 16th anniversary of the event brought something new: a block party. Phyllis Coley, the CEO and publisher of Spectacular Magazine, as well as the main organizer of the parade, said she thought […]

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Hayti Heritage Center hosts black perspectives exhibit

By Caroline Bowyer

Artist Willie Bigelow considers himself a Durham native, even though he hasn’t lived here his whole life. Born in Greensboro, Bigelow moved to Durham at age 8 so his father could be the pastor at Greater Saint Paul Baptist Church. Bigelow, now 70, has dabbled in the arts since he was a child. “My uncle […]

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Unity March and Rally unites Durham in MLK’s legacy

By Katie Rice, Ramishah Maruf and Tenley Garrett

January 31, 2018

It is below freezing, but Antwon Styles grips his daughters’ hands, joining hundreds of marchers in downtown Durham for the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Unity March and Rally on Saturday, Jan. 15. Audrina, Antwon’s fourth-grader, holds a sign that reads “For the Children” adorned with hearts and smiley faces. Durham holds a history rooted […]

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First Calvary Baptist hosts 26th annual MLK Day Lock-In

By Cole Villena

Two weeks after New Year’s, hundreds of West End residents came together once again to celebrate a cherished American holiday. Posters of Martin Luther King Jr. replaced brightly-colored 2018 banners. Coffee, not champagne, was the drink of choice for adults at the Community Family Life and Recreation Center at Lyon Park at 1309 Halley Street. […]

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Hayti offers classes and rental opportunities

By Daija Graves

October 26, 2017

The Hayti Heritage Center is a Durham landmark – one of few remaining buildings from Durham’s Hayti District. As a cultural arts education center, it has been offering events and activities since 1975. What many people may not know is that they also rent their facilities to host community initiated classes, weddings, dances, and anything […]

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Volunteers strive to preserve Geer Cemetery

By Davis McKinney

October 4, 2017

Of all the places he could be on a sunny Friday afternoon in September, Chris Covington chose a cemetery. It might seem an odd choice, but if you saw the state of Geer Cemetery at 800 Colonial St. in Durham, you might understand why. After looking at the rusty, dilapidated fences, the overturned tombstones and […]

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Q&A with Rep. Mickey Michaux on Durham life and history

By Alexis Allston

April 19, 2017

Rep. Henry McKinley “Mickey” Michaux Jr., D-Durham, is the longest serving African-American representative in the N.C. General Assembly at 86 years old. Durham Voice co-editor Alexis Allston sat down with Michaux to talk about Durham, local politics and a lifetime of service. DV: What part of Durham did you grow up in? MM: I was born, bred […]

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A historic voice for the black community

By Olivia Browning

April 5, 2017

Louis E. Austin bought The Stanford Advertiser in 1927 and transformed the local newspaper into the most important voice for black North Carolinians during the civil rights era. He used The Carolina Times to publicize racial inequities and to fight for racial equality in North Carolina and throughout the U.S. Austin’s legacy is still carried […]

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Historic Speight’s Auto Service dates back to 1938

By Kevin Crawford

March 31, 2017

  Durham’s thriving black business committee was severely damaged by the construction of the Durham Freeway beginning in the 1960s. Nonetheless, some businesses, such as Speight’s Auto Service, relocated and continue to thrive. Active since 1938, Speights Auto Service started as a service station selling gas, running cabs, as well as oil services. Owned by […]

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Construction worker leaves heart at N.C Central

By Jasmine Holeman

October 1, 2014

Arthur Moore, a retired construction worker and Durham native, left his heart at the Shepard Memorial Library in the early 1970s. “Although what is now called N.C Central came into existence in 1910, no formal library existed for a number of years,” said Moore who is 76 years old. “Students were forced to purchase all […]

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Makeover planned for historic home in Northgate Park

By Myava Mitchell

April 13, 2014

A historic home in Northgate Park that once housed a children’s museum but has been empty for two years will transform into art next month. Durham artists will memorialize the home at 404 W. Lavender Ave through a Durham Parks and Recreation volunteer project. Occasional flooding has left the city-owned property in decay and poor […]

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Quilt exhibit teaches African-American history

By Christopher Moore

March 4, 2014

Hundreds of quilts are on display until April 3 at the Hayti Heritage Center. The exhibit, “Remembering Our Roots,” coincides with Black History Month and showcases the talent of more than 50 quilters from across North Carolina. “It is an art form that I am able to give to the people that enjoy looking at […]

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