Local News

Black and White Images Portray Decades of Racial Divide in Durham

Posted December 27, 1999 6:00 a.m. EST

— The 20th Century brought racial problems and progress, but there is still much to be done as we enter the 21st Century to bridge the racial gap that is truly black and white.

Pictures have graphically told the story of America's racial tensions, black and white struggles between blacks and whites.

Many are images we have seen for years. Now there is a new collection from what was one of the early South's progressive neighborhoods: the Hayti section of Durham.

The snapshots are part of a new book from Dr. Beverly Washington Jones, Dean of the University College atN.C. Central University.

Jones guides the reader through Hayti's history, the struggles, the business boom of the 20s and 30s, and most importantly the joys of those who call Hayti home.

"I've had numerous calls from individuals who have gone through the book, but not once. Many of them have said they've gone through it five times, because every time they flip a page, those voices are talking to them," Jones says.

Voices like John Stewart's, the first black member of the Durham City Council, and voices of children like tennis great Arthur Ashe, who trained at the Aljonquin Center in 1954, ring out from the pages.

Jones believes the voices "are saying is there still a commitment in terms of community connecting together?"

Jones says that question is one we must carry into 2000 and beyond.

"I think that these efforts will have to be sustaining," Jones says. "It will not take place overnight. It is an evolutionary process. But, the more we work on it, it means that the more it becomes a trickle-down type of effect."

"Excellence is important," she says. "My students will tell you that I'm probably one of the hardest professors they ever had." This professor believes the best way to bridge the gap between the races is to bridge the educational gap between white and minority students, something we failed to do this century.

"I think it's going to be central that that become a priority of all of us as we move toward 2000," she says.

Jones hopes the memories stirred by her book will renew commitments to do our best to live in harmony.

Jones' book can be found in most Triangle bookstores.