Velma Perry - On her family history, political organizing, and working at the Carolina InnInterviewed by Susan Simone on January 28, 1998
This interview with Velma Perry captures her time growing up in the Tin Top neighborhood of Chapel Hill. Velma Perry’s mother was one of Luther Hargrave’s and Della Weaver’s nineteen children. She recounts how her family has lived in the Tin Top neighborhood for generations, where her father helped build the houses with tin roofs that gave the community its name. Ms. Perry reflects on growing up in a tight knit neighborhood where everyone looked after one another and the different ways they took care of one another during difficult times. The Great Depression set the scene for much of her youth as she remembers the odd jobs her family did to get by. When she was not working Ms. Perry speaks about her engagement in community organizing, which started during President Franklin Roosevelt’s run for a second term. She discusses where she learned her passion for serving her community and describes the different work she has done over the years to empower her neighbors and family members.This interview is part of a group of interviews conducted by Susan Simone exploring the lives and struggle of various members of the Northside community: a historically black and primarily residential neighborhood located immediately northwest of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and downtown Chapel Hill, NC. The community has long been involved in a struggle to prevent developers from buying up property to build new and expensive housing developments that would break up the black community and drive low-income residents out of Chapel Hill, as Northside contains the majority of the remaining low-income housing in the city.
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