Housing Inequality Exhibit Opens Friday

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
The Independent Weekly

With municipal elections coming up, there’s been a lot of talk in Durham about equity, particularly as it relates to housing.

But the current landscape of housing inequality in Durham was set in motion long before this election cycle. An exhibit opening Friday seeks to fill in that history.

“Uneven Ground: The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham, NC," is the work of Bull City 150, a collaboration between the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University that explores the historical context of current issues facing Durham. At its core, Bull City 150, created ahead of Durham's sesquicentennial in 2019, seeks to expose the realities of white privilege and how it has influenced Durham's past and present. 

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Friday at six p.m. at the MDC building at 307 West Main Street.

The exhibit will explore how urban renewal, segregation, private industry, and homeownership have shaped housing in Durham today. It will include maps, photographs and oral histories, archival material, and original artwork by local artist Moriah LeFebvre. Bull City 150 team members will be available to discuss the exhibit. The team includes Mel Norton, Tia Hall, Kimber Heinz, Bob Korstad and Tim Stallmann.

Norton says the exhibit begins with colonial settlers and slavery, covers post-Civil War landowning patterns, sharecropping, and the Jim Crow era.

"As we start to get more into the twentieth century, we start to really dig into a set of tools that really served to reinforce and solidify patterns of segregation and inequality," Norton says. That includes investment patterns (public and private); redlining, a practice by which banks refused to lend money in black neighborhoods; deed restrictions that either explicitly or effectively prohibited the sale of property of black people; public housing; and steering, a practice in which real estate agents steered clients to certain neighborhoods based on their race.

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