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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Margaret Kennedy Goodwin, September 26, 1997. Interview R-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of urban renewal on African American community

Goodwin describes life on Fayetteville Street in Durham, North Carolina, as a thriving center of the African American community. Having moved there in 1920 with her family, Goodwin grew up on Fayetteville Street, only to be removed in the 1970s and 1980s when Durham adopted policies of urban renewal. Arguing that urban renewal really meant "urban removal" for African Americans, Goodwin explains how that project amounted to the demise of a number of African American businesses.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Margaret Kennedy Goodwin, September 26, 1997. Interview R-0113. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANGELA HORNSBY:
Um, when and under what circumstances did you come to Durham?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
My father was in the Army when I was born and that's why I was born in Clarkton. And when he came home, they moved to Durham. He was working for the North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company and the home office was here. Before he was there, we lived in Savannah, Georgia, but I don't remember anything of that. And they brought him here to the home office and in 1920, we moved to Durham.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So you were two years old then?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Yes. So Durham is really my home. [Laughter]
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Um, um, where in Durham did you initially settle?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
We lived first on Piedmont Avenue which ran off of old Fayetteville Street. It's just, that area's just not there anymore. And, my father bought the house on Fayetteville Street we moved in which was a small house. Being the son of a carpenter he just added rooms as he— we needed them. And it eventually turned out to be a seventeen-room house. Um, as I say 1008 Fayetteville Street. Brick front, had a big front porch which I loved. I've always loved watching people. And, I was devastated when urban renewal came. I just didn't see why we had to move from our Fayetteville Street house. But we did, and this house was available.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Now, we talked about, a little bit about urban renewal which you, um, sort of cast as urban—
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Urban removal, right. It moved, it removed all evidence of, I guess about 17 black businesses.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Name some of those businesses for me. This was a known as Hayti—
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Right.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
The black business district.
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Mmhmm.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
What are some of the various businesses that were there?
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
Mr. Ed Green's Grocery Store. The — [pause] I can remember the name of the — My memory is not doing, I haven't slept enough this morning. The Royal Lights of King David, which was an insurance company. Southern Fidelity Insurance Company, a cleaning establishment. I can't remember the name of it. Three black drugstores. Um, Dr. James, Dr. Sidney James owned the one closest to White Rock Baptist Church where we went to church. Mrs. Olivia Dyer Pearson had a drugstore between my house and Dr. James' drugstore. There were several grocery stores. A dry cleaning establishment, a home modernization, home improvement, all of these owned and run by blacks. A library, the beginning of the Stanford L. Warren library. It was just called the Durham Colored Library then. It started in White Rock Church and then they bought a building on the corner of Pettigrew and Fayetteville. [pause] Oh, a wonderful restaurant, the best food you ever ate in your life. And then there were houses, the better built houses in Durham were on, down Fayetteville Street during that time. An undertaking establishment on the corner of Fayetteville and Umstead. A large grocery store owned by Mr. Math [Matthew] Williams, who was the founder of the Williams — I don't know if you've heard of the Williams Family Circle?
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Sounds familiar.
MARGARET KENNEDY GOODWIN:
It's a large, they have a reunion somewhere every year. And it's one of the larger families of old Durham. Mr. Math owned the grocery store that is in the area now where Dr. Bass' office and the cleaning establishment and, something else occupies that land. [pause] Mr. Page's grocery store, its always been there. It's still there. It's still Page and Son. And in those days, if you didn't have the money you just put your name on a list. It's sort of like the credit establishment now, and paid him when you could. And that worked fine. I don't think he ever had more than two people who did not pay him back the money that was owed for his groceries. The Algonquin tennis club. That was where black youth from all over Durham had most of their recreation. There was a tennis court and inside a game room and a lady that stayed in the building that was the Algonquin rented rooms to traveling insurance men. People who, mostly came to meetings at the Mutual. Ms. Mary Newly, she was quite a lady. We, I, my sister, my brother and I would play tennis all day long in the summertime when school was out. Just come home to eat, and get some dry clothes on 'cause you sweated like mad. [Laughter]