47 episodes

A look back in history at a time of great promise and great disappointment for Black Americans who dreamed of and struggled for the promise of community and full citizenship.

Dreams of Black Wall Street Nia Clark

    • History
    • 4.5 • 327 Ratings

A look back in history at a time of great promise and great disappointment for Black Americans who dreamed of and struggled for the promise of community and full citizenship.

    S3 E12 Durham's Black Wall Street and Wilmington, N.C. More Than a Century After the 1898 White Supremacy Campaign

    S3 E12 Durham's Black Wall Street and Wilmington, N.C. More Than a Century After the 1898 White Supremacy Campaign

    Many experts view the 1898 Wilmington Insurrection and Coup D’Etat as a turning point in the fortunes of African Americans in North Carolina and across the nation. The 1898 white supremacy campaign that led to the Wilmington Massacre was an all out assault on Wilmington’s Black middle class and provided a blue print for the white supremacy campaign the following year that effectively barred African Americans in the state from voting at the polls and participating in politics until the 1965 Voting Rights Act. The strategies employed by the white supremacy campaigns in North Carolina were replicated in states across the South and used to disenfranchise African Americans across the country. The more political power White Democrats gained, the larger the leverage they held in political engagement with White Republicans - and the more inclined White Republicans were to disregard the majority of their African American supporters when it became politically and economically advantageous to do so, which was quite often. 



    While the 1898 Wilmington Insurrection and Coup D’Etat was the beginning of the decline of Wilmington’s Black Middle Class, this was also around the time Durham’s Black Wall Street began to emerge as an economic engine of Blacks in the Bull City. 1898 was the same year what would become the Durham-based North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was founded, which would eventually grow into the largest Black-owned insurance company in the world and one of the largest Black businesses in the United States at its height. The leaders that helped steer Black Durham’s growth did so with the cautionary tale of Wilmington serving as a reminder of the fleeting nature of good fortune. 



    After decades of prosperity and growth, the root of the demise of Durham’s Black Wall Street mirrored that of scores of thriving Black communities that also emerged in the late 19th and early 20th century and declined in the middle to latter part of the 20th century: Urban Renewal. The racially discriminatory practices that formed the infrastructure of the federal government’s Urban Renewal program that carried on into the 1970’s was paraded throughout the country under the guise of urban revitalization. However, in the case of Black Durham and dozens of other Black communities nationwide, promises of new and improved housing, transportation and business opportunities never came. Instead property was demolished and/or seized by governments, residents and businesses, were displaced, wealth was lost, education suffered and highways were built straight through African American neighborhoods - like Durham’s Haiti community - a final nail in the coffin to whatever prospect of prosperity remained. Over the next several decades Durham’s Black community continued to suffer economic decline, never to regain the level of prosperity it once knew. Today, many Blacks in Durham face poorer outcomes than their forefathers and mothers did a century prior. 



    Similarly, following the 1898 Wilmington massacre, the African American population in the once majority Black city continued to decline as social, political and economic opportunities for Blacks in Wilmington dried up while the state of North Carolina became an increasingly racially hostile place to live. The loss of wealth stemming from the Wilmington Massacre coupled with the loss of opportunities that followed continue to manifest in poor socio-economic outcomes for Blacks in Wilmington in the present day.

    • 1 hr 5 min
    SE3 E11 Pauli Murray: Durham native and Unsung Heroin of the Civil Rights Movement

    SE3 E11 Pauli Murray: Durham native and Unsung Heroin of the Civil Rights Movement

    Not only was Pauli Murray was one of the most important Civil Rights leaders that Black Durham ever produced, she was also one of the most important Civil rights leaders of the 20th century. Murray was a jurist and activist who contributed some of the legal groundwork to the civil rights movement. Pauli gained national attention during her failed attempt to study at the all-white University of North Carolina, which is when Murray developed a life-long friendship with the first lady at the time, Eleanor Roosevelt. Murray was a member of the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR) and helped form the nonviolence-focused Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). Murray went to the University of California Boalt School of Law where s/he received an LLM (Master of Laws) degree. In 1951 Murray published the book, States’ Laws on Race and Color. Thurgood Marshall, head of the legal department at the (NAACP) at the time, described it as the “Bible” for civil rights litigators.  Shortly after her book Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, came out in 1956, Murray took a job in the litigation department at the law firm, Paul, Weiss, Rifkin, Wharton, and Garrison. In 1965, Pauli became the first African-American to receive a JSD degree from Yale Law School. The accolades go on and on. So why isn’t Murray a household name? Murray never sought a public profile. Though experts surmise that her gender non-conformity must have been a factor. Nevertheless, recent efforts to give Murray the recognition she deserves have shined a brighter light on her incredible life.

    • 1 hr 15 min
    S3 E10 Documenting Unsung Women Leaders of Black Durham and North Carolina Part 2

    S3 E10 Documenting Unsung Women Leaders of Black Durham and North Carolina Part 2

    Black women have often been omitted or written out of history. This much is true when it comes to many women leaders of Black Durham in the first several decades of the 20th century, when Durham, North Carolina’s Black Wall Street was at it’s height, as well as Black women across the state of North Carolina during this time period. As a result many Black women have never received the recognition or credit they deserved, in life or afterwards, for the contributions they made to their communities and society. This includes many Black women who took on central roles as de facto, sometimes clandestine political figures in the Jim Crow era after the disfranchisement of Black men in 1900. Some of Dr. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore's work refocuses attention on these women by exploring the instrumental and interconnected relationship of gender, class and race in North Carolina politics.

    Musical Attribution:


    1. Title: African Moon by John Bartmann. License, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

    Link to Music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/John_Bartmann/Public_Domain_Soundtrack_Music_Album_One/african-moon



    2. Title: Window Sparrows by Axletree. Licensed under a Attribution License. License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

    Link to music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Axletree/Ornamental_EP/Window_Sparrows

    • 46 min
    S3 E9 Documenting Unsung Women Leaders of Black Durham and North Carolina

    S3 E9 Documenting Unsung Women Leaders of Black Durham and North Carolina

    Black women have often been omitted or written out of history. This much is true when it comes to many women leaders of Black Durham in the first several decades of the 20th century, when Durham, North Carolina’s Black Wall Street was at it’s height. As a result many Black women have never received the recognition or credit they deserved, in life or afterwards, for the contributions they made to their communities and society. Much of the work of the late Dr. Leslie Brown focused on analyzing the lives of working class, middle class and elite Black women and men in relation to working class, middle class and elite White women and men in Durham, North Carolina. In doing so she amplified the lives and voices of Black women who played pivotal roles in the upbuilding of their community, particularly during one of the darkest moments in the history of the state following the Civil War: the period immediately after the disfranchisement of Black men in North Carolina in 1900. Brown’s work was groundbreaking and significantly expanded what is understood about the social fabric of what was once known as the “Capital of the Black Middle Class.” Similarly, Dr. Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore has also spent a great deal of time refocusing attention to the central role of Black women as political figures in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era by exploring the instrumental and interconnected relationship of gender, class and race in North Carolina politics from the period immediately prior to the disfranchisement of Black men in 1900 to the period when Black and white women gained the vote in 1920.







    Musical Attribution:


    1. Title: African Moon by John Bartmann. License, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

    Link to Music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/John_Bartmann/Public_Domain_Soundtrack_Music_Album_One/african-moon



    2. Title: Window Sparrows by Axletree. Licensed under a Attribution License. License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

    Link to music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Axletree/Ornamental_EP/Window_Sparrows

    • 58 min
    S3 E8 Pioneering Black Durham: Success, Sacrifice and Setbacks

    S3 E8 Pioneering Black Durham: Success, Sacrifice and Setbacks

    The pioneers and leaders of Black Durham during the early 20th century are often lauded for steering their community through the challenges of living in the Jim Crow South while creating some of the most successful African American-lead businesses, educational and financial institutions of the era. The legacy of Durham’s Black Wall Street along with the historic and prosperous Hayti community remain among the more celebrated of their accomplishments. Often absent from dialogue surrounding this history are the complicated choices that Black Durham’s leaders had to make in order to facilitate the development of their community, and how those choices impacted their own constituents as well as the race as a whole. Black Durham’s citizens sometimes had competing viewpoints and disagreed on what direction the ship should be steered in order to support African American advancement. Additionally, while stories of Black Durham’s leadership are often drawn from scholarly sources, listeners will hear from the direct descendants of two of Durham’s most influential pioneers: John Merrick and Dr. Aaron Moore. Not only were the men business partners and friends, eventually they also became family. Greensboro, NC City Attorney Charles D. Watts Jr., Esq. and his sister, Eileen Watts Welch, who serves as the President of the Durham Colored Library, Inc., offer personal perspectives on their family history and legacy.

    Musical Attribution:

    1. Title: African Moon by John Bartmann. License, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

    Link to Music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/John_Bartmann/Public_Domain_Soundtrack_Music_Album_One/african-moon

    2. Title: Window Sparrows by Axletree. Licensed under a Attribution License. License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

    Link to music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Axletree/Ornamental_EP/Window_Sparrows

    • 59 min
    S3 E7 Race, Class and Politics in Black Durham

    S3 E7 Race, Class and Politics in Black Durham

    An exploration of the complicated intersection of race, class and politics in Durham, North Carolina. Black Durham’s leaders played an integral role in the “Upbuilding” of their community and overcame great obstacles that were common at the time in the Jim Crow South. In the absence of African American political representation after Jim Crow legislation eviscerated Black political participation, Durham’s Black leaders became de facto representatives on behalf of their community, which allowed them to liaise with White city and state leadership in order to facilitate community progress. This does not mean African American leaders in Durham solely relied on a paternalistic relationship with White stakeholders to assist in the advancement of their race. Durham’s African American leaders leaned heavily on their own expertise and institution building acumen to create opportunities for people of color in Durham that continued to pay dividends for years to come. On the other hand, there were other African Americans districts in Durham and most of their inhabitants were not well off like the Black elite or middle class in the historic Hayti neighborhood. Many African Americans and people of color in Durham were poor or working class and struggled to make ends meet. This fact is often absent in discourse surrounding Durham’s Black Wall Street. Class distinctions between the wealthy or well-off, the poor, and everyone in between in Black Durham, mirrored those of White Durham. Additionally, while racism was a burden for all people of color, class distinctions often determined the degree to which that burden impacted the daily lives of Blacks in Durham.

    Listeners will hear from the late Dr. Leslie Brown, who was an expert in the history of Black Durham and specialized in history during the Jim Crow Era. Guests in this episode include Dr. William Darity, who is the Director of the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University, a Samuel DuBois Cook Professor of Public Policy, a Professor of African and African American Studies as well as Economics. Listeners will also hear from Professor Henry McKoy, who is the North Carolina Central University Director of Entrepreneurship at the School of Business and Managing Director of the Eagle Angel Network.    





    Musical Attribution:

    1. Title: African Moon by John Bartmann. License, disclaimer and copyright information: CC0 1.0 Universal (CC0 1.0) Public Domain Dedication https://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/

    Link to Music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/John_Bartmann/Public_Domain_Soundtrack_Music_Album_One/african-moon

    2. Title: Window Sparrows by Axletree. Licensed under a Attribution License. License, disclaimer and copyright information: Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)

    Link to music: https://freemusicarchive.org/music/Axletree/Ornamental_EP/Window_Sparrows

    • 1 hr 11 min

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5
327 Ratings

327 Ratings

callmedoge ,

Just keeps getting better

This show gets better with every season. I am really enjoying the direction that Nia Clark is taking season 3 beyond the Tulsa Oklahoma Massacre, and on to exposing and exploring racial violence that has existed throughout our country’s history, but is never taught in public institutions.

Forgotton King ,

Remarkable Education while being entertained

Nia Clarke has created a masterful work of art that has invaluable content from scholars and first had witnesses. Can not say enough about this work of art! Excited that Season 3 is here and even more excited that I recommended she do a Season on Wilmington and she ended up following suit coincidently or directly. If you are debating on giving this a listen do yourself a favor and dive in.. But be ready for the ride! The amount of first l hand and second hand accounts are fascinating as well as extremely moving. So happy to have stumbled upon this remarkable piece of education during the pandemic. I will be a fan for life!

ginseng.n.juice ,

Wonderful journalism, deep and measured coverage

One of the best podcasts I’ve heard in a looooong time. Early in season 1 the podcast added rich perspective to some stories and timelines that I’d been struggling with for a long time. The podcast offered an amazing addition to my understanding of American history, even though the focus is on Oklahoma - that is masterful storytelling, in my opinion.

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