Mark Royster - On his family, community, and churchInterviewed by Rob Stephens on April 21, 2010
Rev. Mark Royster is the minister of Cedar Rock Missionary Baptist Church in New Hill, NC. He has spent decades working as a banker (VP of SunTrust), minister, school board member (leader of the Blue Ribbon Task Force), and community developer and activist in Orange County, and has strong ties to Chapel Hill, especially the Northside and Pine Knolls communities. This interview was done as part of the Jackson Center’s “Facing Our Neighbors” Inititiative. Topics include: Introduction of Mark Royster and his wife, Phyllis; experience of growing up in Oxford; meeting Phyllis; decision to go to Johnson C. Smith University; family dynamics around education; memories of grandparents, Papa Tom and Ma Bessie Perry; reflections of life as sharecroppers; father’s farming and ownership of land; earlier generations from Franklin County; growing and processing tobacco; house fire and stories of survival and life in tobacco warehouse; early childhood schooling memories and consciousness of his own race; race relations at Webb; role of religion growing up; father’s death and his reaction; work as auditor; process of becoming first African American in traveler’s insurance; experiences as banker; life in Charlotte, Granville County, and then Chapel Hill; hearing about Greenbridge development in Chapel Hill; his work financing black owned development; controversy over Rosemary Village and Greenbridge; loss of cohesivenes of black community; importance of trust and the church in the black community; reflections on UNC-NOW and its role fighting racial and economic injustice.
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