Hayti, Durham, North Carolina

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Fayetteville St., Hayti, circa 1940. Courtesy of Durham County Library, NC Collection

Hayti (pronounced "HAY_TIE"), also called Hayti District, is the historic African-American community that is now part of the city of Durham, North Carolina.[1] It was founded as an independent black community shortly after the American Civil War on the southern edge of Durham by freedmen coming to work in tobacco warehouses and related jobs in the city. Over 200 African American businesses were located along Fayetteville, Pettigrew and Pine Streets, the bounties of Hayti.

It developed during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, through years of racial segregation imposed by white Democrats in the state legislature, following the Reconstruction era in the South. With black-owned businesses and services, library, hotel, theatre and hospital, the community became self-sufficient. It declined in the late 20th century, due to suburbanization as well as a 1958 urban renewal project, which took down houses and businesses in 200 acres of the community and split it with a freeway. St. Joseph's African Methodist Episcopal Church (1891) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been used since 1975 as a community and cultural center. Hayti is home to many nationally known African Americans.

History[edit]

During the 1880s, more residents came and mostly black run businesses were established. Hayti District eventually included a variety of businesses, schools, library, theatre, hotel, the Lincoln Hospital (built in 1900), and other services, making it quite self-sufficient.[2] All classes lived within Hayti and the black-owned businesses employed numerous residents. The community of African American majority population flourished from the 1880s through the 1940s.[3] The urburbanization renewal emminent domain pushed out the African American residents, and a 1950s urban renewal project took down buildings of over 200 acres of the heart of the district business district, realigning streets and running the freeway right through the Black estabished business area with a freeway. The urban renewal was more urban destruction by the white politicians and the Ku Klux Klan of North Carolina to break up the black community established business and neighborhoods. Go see Tulsa Oklahoma destruction and bombing of the black neighborhoods of Tulsa. It was hidden by the white community in Tulsa Oklahoma by the Hearst Newspapers refrusing to publish the bombings and burning of whole neighborhoods by the white Ku Klux Klan.

James E. Shepard was one of the founding fathers of Hayti, along with Aaron McDuffie Moore, John Merrick and Charles Clinton Spaulding. Shepard, Moore and Merrick founded the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (1898), which became the largest and richest African-American company in the United States at the time. It had a land development company as a subsidiary, which helped build much of Hayti.

Among the churches built was St. Joseph's African Methodist Episcopal Church (1891). Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, it has been used since 1975 as a community and cultural center. The first AME services were held in Hayti District in 1868 by Edian Markham, a former slave and AME missionary, in a "brush arbor". As the congregation grew, it built a log structure called Union Bethel AME Church. Another wood church replaced that. By 1891 the community raised money for an architect-designed grand brick church, which they named St. Joseph.[4] Another major black church was White Rock Baptist, built in 1896 by a congregation organized earlier in the 19th century.

In the early 1920s and 1930s, the business section on Pettigrew north of the White Rock Baptist Church was also known as "Lil" Mexico.[3] By then more than 200 African-American businesses were located along Fayetteville, Pettigrew and Pine streets, the major boundaries of Hayti during its heyday.

This small black community was responsible for some "firsts":

  • It was the first all African-American community to be fully self-sufficient. By the early 20th century, it had its own schools, library, churches, barbershops, Lincoln Hospital (1900), movie theater, recreation center, and hotels.
  • North Carolina Central University was established by James E. Shepard as a private religious school in 1910; by 1925 it became the first African-American liberal arts college in the United States to be state-funded.
  • The first "sit-in" happened in Hayti on June 23, 1957, when Rev. Douglas Elaine Moore, minister of Asbury Methodist, led a group of six other blacks (three women, three men) into the Royal Ice Cream Parlor, which had segregated seating according to the law, and sat down in the "white" section. When they were arrested, Moore turned to Floyd McKissick, a young Durham lawyer, for their defense. The case was eventually appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Durham’s black Ministerial Alliance initially opposed Moore’s “radical” efforts, as did the citywide political organization, the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs, or DCNA. Participants in the sit-in included: Mary Elizabeth Clyburn, Rev. Douglas Elaine Moore, Claude Edward Glenn, Jesse Willard Gray, Vivian Elaine Jones, Melvin Haywood Willis, and Virginia Lee Williams.[citation needed]

Two early 20th-century leaders, W. E. B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington visited Hayti in 1910 and 1911, respectively. They said the community was a model for all African-American communities in the United States to follow.[2]

Non-violent protest[edit]

A Sit-in advocating the end of racial segregation happened on June 23, 1957, when Hayti's Asbury Methodist Minister Rev. Douglas Elaine Moore leads a group of six other blacks (three women, three men) into segregated Royal Ice Cream Parlor, where they sat down in the white section. They are arrested and Moore turns to young Durham lawyer Floyd McKissick. The case was appealed all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Durham’s black Ministerial Alliance initially opposed Moore’s “radical” efforts, as did the city wide political organization the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs, or DCNA. Participants in the sit-in included: Mary Elizabeth Clyburn, Rev. Douglas Elaine Moore, Claude Edward Glenn, Jesse Willard Gray, Vivian Elaine Jones, Melvin Haywood Willis, and Virginia Lee Williams." Well before February 5, 1960, when four black college freshmen from Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina -- Joseph McNeil, Franklin McCain, Ezell Blair, Jr. (later known as Jibreel Khazan), and David Richmond sat down at a "white-only" Woolworth Department store lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Notable natives and residents[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Arnold Shaw, Honkers And Shouters. The Golden Years Of Rhythm And Blues. New York: Crowell-Collier Press, 1978, p. 382
  2. ^ a b Washington, Booker T. "Durham, North Carolina, A City of Negro Enterprises," The Booker T. Washington Papers, Volume 11: 1911-12. Louis R. Harlan and Raymond W. Smock, eds. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981. pp. 56-64
  3. ^ a b "Hayti District: General History", Ibiblio, University of North Carolina, accessed 19 June 2012
  4. ^ Louis Allston, "The History of St. Joseph’s AME Church and the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation", St. Joseph Historic Foundation, 2012, accessed 19 June 2012

Further reading[edit]

  • Anderson, Jean Bradley. Durham County: A History of Durham, North Carolina, Durham: Duke University Press, 1990.
  • Harris, Sheldon. Blues Who's Who: A Biographical Dictionary of Blues Singers. New York: Da Capo Press, 1979.
  • Kotsyu, Joel A. and Frank A. Durham: A Pictorial History. Dover, NH: Arcadia Publishing, 1997.
  • MacDonald, Thomasi. "Hayti's Ghosts." The Independent Weekly July 9-15, 1997.
  • Phillips, Bill. "Piedmont Country Blues." Southern Exposure, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring/Summer 1974).
  • Vann, Andre' D., and Beverly Washington Jones. Durham's Hayti: An African American History, Charleston, SC: Arcadia Press, 1998.
  • Washington, Booker T. "Durham, North Carolina, A City of Negro Enterprises," The Booker T. Washington Papers, Volume 11: 1911-12. Louis R. Harlan and Raymond W. Smock, eds. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1981. pp. 56-64.

External links[edit]

  • "The Lessons of Hayti" - film documentary produced by Harlem filmmakers, Terry A. Boyd, Byron C. Hunter and Edward Harris Jr.