Title: Oral History Interview with Martina Dunford, February 18, 1999. Interview K-0142.
Interviewer: Rouverol, Alicia
Interviewee: Dunford, Martina
Abstract: Martina Dunford moved to Durham, North Carolina, in 1991. A graduate student at North Carolina Central, Dunford began to work for the Edgemont Community Center and had become the program director at the time of the interview in 1999. She begins the interview with a brief history of the Edgemont Community Center, which was founded in the early 1940s. From there, she begins to describe the characteristics of the community, which was predominantly African American, and some of the changes within the community she had witnessed over the course of the 1990s. In particular, Dunford focuses on some of the remaining obstacles that prevented people in the community from achieving true equality of opportunity, which she partially attributes to lingering cultural differences. In addition, Dunford discusses how the rapidly growing Latino population in Durham during the 1990s complicated dynamics within the community. While she does not identify any overt tensions between African Americans and Latinos in Edgemont, she does indicate that both communities remained largely isolated from one another. Dunford describes some of the efforts of the Edgemont Community Center towards rectifying those divisions, arguing that building a sense of rapport between different groups of people was the first crucial step. In addition, Dunford describes the various measures the center took to provide children in the community with opportunities they would otherwise have been denied. In addition to outlining the character of the community and lingering obstacles to solidarity, Dunford also offers memories of her childhood in Norfolk, Virginia. After describing the importance of education, the role of religion, and experiences with racial discrimination during her childhood and early adult years, Dunford argues that she was shocked by the "blatant" racism she witnessed upon moving to Durham and the challenges it posed for the work of the Edgemont Community Center.