Title: Oral History Interview with Robert R. Sampson, October 9, 2002. Interview R-0182.
Interviewer: Hornsby, Angela
Interviewee: Sampson, Robert R.
Abstract: At the time of this interview, Robert Sampson was running a pharmacy on East Market Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sampson describes how urban renewal in the late 1950s and early 1960s affected Greensboro's thriving black shopping district on Market Street. Sampson himself managed to stay ahead of redevelopment efforts, leaving areas destined for change for places he thought more secure. However, most black businesspeople did not expect renewal efforts or see them as inevitable; as a result, they lost their businesses and often found it impossible to rebuild or relocate. While Sampson concedes that the dilapidated buildings on Market Street needed work, he suspects that the choice to seize and redevelop, rather than fund remodeling, was an effort by white Greensboro to dissolve a successful black business district. The effort worked, silencing a lively area and greatly damaging black businesses. This interview provides a look at a black business community's struggle to maintain its coherence in a changing economic climate.