Bull City 150: Reckoning with Durham’s Past to Build a More Equitable Future

Bull City 150: Reckoning with Durham’s Past to Build a More Equitable Future is a project of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity and the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke. The primary goals of Bull City 150 are to create a broadly shared understanding of critical lessons from Durham’s history, and to leverage history to expand and deepen community discussions about current-day inequality in the city. Specifically, the project will undertake original historical research on the intersections of inequality in seven main areas: housing, education, employment, politics/voting, policing/criminal justice, health, and municipal services. Bull City 150 holds that the current landscape of inequality in Durham, NC cannot be understood, let alone reckoned with, without a more complex understanding of the deep roots of inequality as they took hold in the particular place we call home. History is a powerful tool of meaning-making, and the stories we tell each other impact the policies we create and the various ways in which we come together to address challenges in our community today. 


Uneven Ground: The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham, NC

The first public offering of Bull City 150 is a traveling public history exhibition and engagement initiative titled “Uneven Ground: The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham.” The exhibit is comprised of 27 panels, 3 audio stations, and 2 interactives that trace the history of housing and land inequality in Durham from colonial times through the 1960s. It also highlights stories of resistance and community organizing. The narratives contained in the exhibit are shaped by archival research, oral histories and sound recordings, and dozens of books, reports, newspapers, dissertations, and theses. We have also partnered with Durham-based artist, Moriah LeFebvre, to show several of her works that convey current residents’ impressions of a changing Durham. Utilizing the exhibit, Bull City 150 intends to go beyond providing historical information and analysis toward provoking dialogue among Durhamites about the housing problems facing our city today. These problems include gentrification, displacement, soaring eviction numbers, and poor housing conditions in private and in long-declining public housing. We partner with grassroots advocacy organizations, housing non-profits, policymakers, community centers, and educational institutions to expand and deepen local conversations about housing and land equity, utilizing a historical lens. 

Learn more about the Bull City 150 Project: