Title: Oral History Interview with Julia Peaks de-Heer, January 8, 1999. Interview K-0146.
Interviewer: Hemming, Jill
Interviewee: de-Heer, Julia Peaks
Abstract: Julia Peaks de-Heer spent her early childhood years in Stagville, North Carolina, before moving to Hopkins Street in Durham, North Carolina, during the early 1950s. Her father's new job at the Nello Teer Construction Company spurred the move, and de-Heer initially felt distraught over leaving the countryside. Nevertheless, she quickly felt at home in her neighborhood on Hopkins Street, largely because of the close-knit sense of community that developed among her neighbors. In addition to describing some of the activities, foodways, and the work of community leaders, de-Heer spends much of the interview discussing the role of the Greater Zion Wall Church, which was founded and built by the community members during her childhood. According to de-Heer, the community began to decline several years later when some of the homes were turned into boarding houses. The portrait she paints of Hopkins Street by the 1990s contrasts sharply with the neighborhood she knew in her childhood. After spending some time in Washington, D.C., and Virginia during the 1960s and 1970s, de-Heer returned to North Carolina in 1980 and began to attend the Greater Zion Wall Church again. de-Heer devotes the final third of the interview to a discussion of her continuing work with that church and her visions for its role in community improvement, focusing on the church's efforts to help disadvantaged children in the community and their growing efforts to bridge divisions between the African Americans in the neighborhood and the rapidly growing Latino population. Researchers should take note that this interview is divided into two parts, with the second part occurring three months after the first. As a result, there is some repetition and variation in de-Heer's recollections.