Oral History

Vernelle Brooks Jones and Charles David Brooks - On their family history and business

Interviewed by Kathryn Wall on March 11, 2023

"They had a very high reputation in the community. They did excellent work. One thing that my father always said, that when they finished their job, they didn’t have to go back…They did quality work, quality construction."

-Vernelle Brooks Jones

"I loved just doing things with my hands and then sitting back and watching the end result. That’s what I enjoy.

-Charles David Brooks, V

Mr. Brooks and Mrs. Jones, a nephew and his aunt, speak about the legacy of their family’s construction work and general contracting business, Brooks and Son’s. The family has been doing construction work since Charles Brooks, I, but the company wasn’t established until Charles Brooks, III, the father of Mrs. Jones. She recalls how her grandfather, Charles Brooks, II, was able to get jobs that Black men were unable to get because of his identity as Irish and Caucasian. Mrs. Jones emphasizes the kindness and charity of her family and how respected they were in the community. Mr. Brooks recalls how the men started out as subcontractors before establishing their own business, and explains the process involved in doing so, as well as the process involved in actually building a house from the ground up. The two remember some of the customers of the company, including Doug Clark, highlighting that the family liked to work directly with homeowners. Mrs. Jones laments that her father passed from brain cancer just after he finished building his dream house, and Mr. Brooks regrets having to close the business because he did not have the proper licensing. Mr. Brooks talks about who they would employ, their specific jobs (including the First Baptist Church annex), and the downsides of his father owning his own business. Mrs. Jones laments about how her father was denied a loan to build a subdivision, one of his career goals, even though he was qualified. The two praise the Black builders of the area and discuss how the field has changed over time.

Vernelle Brooks Jones and Charles David Brooks - On their family history and business

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Oral history interview of Jones, Vernelle Brooks conducted by Wall, Kathryn on March 11, 2023 at Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Chapel Hill, NC. Processed by Adair, Alexandra.

Citation: Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Vernelle Brooks Jones and Charles David Brooks - On their family history and business,” From the Rock Wall, accessed July 19, 2024, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/vernelle-brooks-jones-and-charles-david-brooks.

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