For many years, Durham NC was known as the Capitol of the Black Middle Class because of its vibrant African-American community. The heart of this community was a neighborhood called Hayti anchored by what is now North Carolina Central University at one end, and a street of thriving black-owned financial business at the other.
This street, downtown Durham's Parrish Street, known as Black Wall Street from about 1910 until 1970, was famous throughout the country because of the successfull black-owned financial businesses, like Mechanics and Farmer's Bank and the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, that were founded there. These businesses were unique in their success, and in the opportunities they provided for intelligent African American men and women to succeed in the world of business, a field traditionally dominated by white men.
Today, few people know about the Parrish Street's rich history, and even fewer know about the women who shaped it's legacy. These women, who were often an overlooked part of the community, did more than keep house and type dictation. In several cases, they were the leaders who kept these businesses running smoothly and successfully!
This web exhibit will give you a chance to learn more about the diverse personalities, contributions, challenges and successes of several women who shaped their businesses and communities. Click on each of the photos at the bottom of the page to learn about a different woman- You'll see pictures and be able to listen to short audio documentaries in which they tell their own stories.
You can also explore Parrish Street, comparing the way it looks today with the way it looked decades ago; enjoy the photo gallery with more pictures that capture women's experience at the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; and get more information, including links to other websites, research tips, and bibliographic information.
When have finished exploring the site, please click here to take a short survey about your experience with this web exhibit.