Collection

Life Histories

In this oral history series long-term Northside residents share their personal background and connection to Northside. Most oral histories include their family heritage, education, religious beliefs, and memories of youth. Interviews may also include encounters with civil rights and gentrification.

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 Albert Simms Williams - On his life, family, community, and faith

Rev. Albert Williams is the minister at Staunton Memorial CME Church in Pittsboro. He is a lifetime resident of the area and was the first African American firefighter in Chapel Hill. This interview was conducted as part of the Jackson Center’s local life history series. Topics include: childhood…

 Patricia "Pat" Jackson - On her family, faith, community, and civil rights

Patricia Jackson grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and has been a member of St. Joseph CME Church for over forty years.  She now works with Wake County Schools and is also a church secretary, a stewardess, and a community activist.  This interview was done as part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center…

 Robert Revels - On influential people in his life

Throughout this interview, Mr. Revels discusses the most influential people in his life as being the Danziggers, his mother and father, and his grandmother. He touches on a lot of lessons he’s learned from each of these individuals throughout the interview, such as the importance of work and…

 David Mason, Jr. - On Black communities in Chapel Hill

This interview provides an overview of Black communities in Chapel Hill during Mason’s life. He notes the consequences of having segregated communities, such as having outdated infrastructure. His employment was at Chapel Hill was at the University. He remembers being employed at a young age at a…

 David Mason, Jr. - On Lincoln High School, school desegregation, and Northside

David Mason, Jr. a lifetime resident of Chapel Hill, is one of the leaders of the Lincoln High Alumni Association, an active member of St. Joseph CME, and a community historian. This interview, conducted as part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History’s local Life Histories…

 Betty Baldwin Geer - On her family, work experiences, and gentrification

This interview provides insight into when she was born, where her family lived, their occupations, and the activities they participated in the church, specifically her uncle. She also shares which black businesses were around. In describing her background she describes how her family lived, where…

 Cecilia Massey-Fike

 Dennis Farrington - On his family, education, and work experiences

Dennis Farrington spent the first part of his life in the Northside area of Chapel Hill before moving to a home off of NC Hwy 54, and he has deep roots in Chatham County, North Carolina. He attended Chapel Hill High School after it was newly integrated. He spent most of his working career at UNC…

 Esphur and Harold Foster - On her mother, education, and impact of the Civil Rights Movement

Esphur Foster has lived on Cotton Street in Chapel Hill, North Carolina for 70 years.  In this interview, Foster discusses the powerful life of her mother, Hattie Mae Foster, as well as growing up in Chapel Hill during a pivotal time in history. She also describes much about life before, during, and…

 Emily Banks - On her family, immigration, and faith

This interview is part of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center’s Life History Series.  Emily Banks, a current member and leader of St. Joseph CME Church, was born in 1946 in New York and migrated south to North Carolina in 1970.  She has spent the last few decades in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.  She…

 Katherine Council - On her childhood, family, and changes in Northside

This interview provides an overview of the place and birth of Mama Kat. Her house burnt down in 1962. She notes the change in neighbors versus before. She had children graduating from college. Her 3 kids were in college at the same time. The last baby was born with down syndrome. She recounts the…

 Alicia Gomez - On her education, being a Jackson Scholar, and musical goals

At the time of the interview, Alicia Gomez was a Jackson Scholar who attended city council and town meetings and worked on a video project. Gomez is originally from New York and moved to Chapel Hill in 2009. Gomez attended Pace charter school after getting off-track academically. She speaks about…

 Mark Royster - On his family, education, and school integration

This interview begins with the background of Mark Royster. Royster grew up on his father’s farm in Granville County which is north of Durham County. His father’s farm was government subsidized. He was the youngest of twelve children. His sister is the eldest and would be 100 years old at the time of…

 Brian Toomey - On his outreach work and services of the health center

Brian Toomey majored in History and wanted to teach after graduation. He moved to Carrboro in 2010 from Massachusetts. He speaks in detail about the services of the health center he works at and the outreach work for the Northside Neighborhood. Toomey notes that one of the difficulties of reaching…

 Donny "Hollywood" Riggsbee - On his family, nickname, and experiences working

This interview provides insight into the background of Donny “Hollywood” Riggsbee, a long-term Northside neighborhood resident. He shares his experiences living with 12 siblings, the areas of NC in which he lived, and his family’s interactions with UNC students. Hollywood goes into depth about how…

 Donny "Hollywood" Riggsbee - On growing up in Chapel Hill, segregation, and his work experiences

Donny ‘Hollywood’ Riggsbee, resident of Chapel Hill, gives his biography during his time in in the town. He describes his youth, growing with 10 siblings, how his mother worked in a kitchen and how the kids worked while growing up. He talks about racial experiences in the form of his employer (Big…

 Stephanie Barnes-Simms - On growing up in Baltimore during the 1960s, family, and education

At the time of the interview, Stephanie Barnes-Simms worked at Self-Help Credit Union. Simms grew up in Baltimore and has lived in NC twice. Her father is from Asheville, NC. Her mother is one of six children. Her maternal grandfather was from High Point, NC and her maternal grandmother lived in…

 Isabel Atwater - On growing up during World War II, Black businesses, and Civil Rights

Ms. Atwater speaks about life growing up in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area during World War II. She shares her experiences with her husband, Roy Atwater and her education at the rural Merritt School and Orange County Training School. She was familiar with food rations throughout the time and had…

 Clayton Weaver - On his parents, education, and Northside

Weaver was born and raised in Chapel Hill, NC on Cameron Avenue. His great-uncle bought their family home in 1929 for $3000. He went to school at Northside Elementary. Weaver provides background on who lived in the neighborhood and what school was like. He recounts that in the late 1950s, the…

 Carlton Eversley - On his family, church, and participation in civil service organizations

Interview highlights three major topics: a detailed history and depiction of the Eversley family life, Eversley’s participation in civil service organizations from high school into adulthood, and the church’s role in Eversley’s participation in social service/social justice initiatives. Other…

 Katherine Council - On her children and growing up outside of Carrboro

In this impromptu interview done at Heavenly Groceries Food Ministry, Katherine “Mama Kat” Council tells us what it was like growing up right outside of Carrboro back in the 1930’s. She recalls how for a while her family had to use a wagon to get to Hamlet’s Chapel CME on Sundays. She also discusses…

 Katherine Council - On her pound cake recipe

In this interview, Mama Kat gives us her coveted pound cake recipe, which she knows from memory because she makes it so often.

 Marian Cheek Jackson

 Deloris Bynum - On school integration, church, and work

In this interview Deloris Bynum recounts being in the 8th grade when black students were integrated into Chapel Hill High School. Bynum says that she loved to teach children. She worked as a Nurse’s Aide in Assisted Living homes and loved older people. Bynum was an usher for the St. Joseph’s CME…