Min. Robert Campbell
"We want our young people to have a sense of worth in this, to have a value about who they are, and not to limit yourself because of your stature because your imagination and your desire can carry you above your stature."
- Min. Robert CampbellMin. Robert "Peter" Campbell grew up in Northside. Many of the men in his family were masons and he, too, learned the craft. He trained as a cook and joined the Navy. He returned and later moved to the Rogers Road neighborhood where he has been a community organizer and environmental justice activist who has spent decades fighting against the city dump and the many hazardous environmental and health threats to Rogers Road residents. He is director of the Rogers Eubanks Neighborhood Association (RENA) Community Center where he manages the after-school program and cooks every week day for the children.
Min. Robert Campbell - On the impact of youth's involvement in RENA (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On the rabbit and the turtle race (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On his fifty-seven year pursuit of bridging divides between races (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On how community events unites people with differences (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - Encourages youth to know their history to build a better future (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On the rewards of RENA's community engagement (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On lessons from the Navy (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On the importance of the youth's conduct (clip)
Min. Robert Campbell - On how community engagement improves quality of life (clip)
Minister Robert Campbell - On Black Builders
"It’s good to talk about what it took to generate economics for the community itself. It was always teaching the new guy on the block. This is what it’s going to take for the future."
- Minister Robert Campbell
Within his interview, Minister Robert Campbell’s lively spirit and storytelling ease shines through as he extensively details his family’s construction legacy in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. His grandfather, uncles, and other relatives played a large role in building the community. He notes that the skills he obtained working with them on building sites easily transferred over to the kitchen - where Min. Campbell learned how to approach the culinary arts from prominent women in his life. Additionally, he highlights family members who engaged in innovative entrepreneurship before commercial regulations were heavily enacted. He describes how building was a collective effort, with highly skilled Black workers from all trades building up the community. This communal mindset shines through in the way that children were looked after. Campbell ends his interview with a note on the community leaders who made sure he went to school and got there on time.
Robert Campbell - Speaking about community, faith, and activism
Min. Campbell ‘s family has lived in this area for generations. He was raised by his grandparents who lived on Graham Street in Northside. His grandfather was a mason and built many of the stone structures around town. He learned about the trade by working with his grandfather, and describes Northside as a place where everyone cared for everyone else’s kids and teachers lived in the community. Every kid was known by a nickname or two. Robert went by Peter, his middle name, and since he played baseball with some of the big kids he earned himself the nickname, “old man,” and, alternatively, “Peter Rabbit.” He has vivid memories of other kids in the neighborhood, of being able to work for other neighborhood adults to learn skills and trades. Because he was always interested in cooking, he took a home economics course in high school and was inspired by Mr. R.D. Smith to learn auto mechanics. He describes his high school experience as a very good one, where teachers encouraged contact across the color line and students got along. After graduation, he decided to apply to a Work Corps program in Kentucky where he learned both cooking and auto mechanics. Rather than wait to be drafted, he decided to join the Navy, following friends who did so, and rose through the ranks to petty officer, third class, on a large ship where he literally learned the ropes and later oversaw other sailors. When he returned to Chapel Hill, he worked first in construction, then as a cook at Shoney’s on Franklin St. He also worked at Burger King and at Lenoir dining hall. He attended Durham Tech on the GI Bill but did not graduate. He went through a difficult time and a few caring people convinced him to lose weight and join a church community. There, in a bible study group, he began to see that his talent lay in speaking and advocacy (what he calls “the gift of gab”). He attended various churches and settled on Faith Tabernacle on Rogers Road. His faith is at the root of his activism since he believes we are called to be stewards of the earth.
Robert Lee Campbell - Speaking on his childhood, faith, and environmental justice
“All God's people coming together and then you hear the voice that said, "I went to the mountain top and what did I see?" I saw all God's people coming together, black, white, red, holding hands and chanting "peace and unity. What do you want? Justice!" And just to hear that echo and look around and see not just teenagers, not just middle-aged, but you saw the whole coming together, desiring the same thing."
- Minister Robert Campbell
Minister Robert Campbell , of Faith Tabernacle Oasis of Love International Church in Chapel Hill, was born and raised in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area; in this interview he speaks about growing up in the Northside neighborhood, his family, and values he was taught as a child. Campbell discusses his work as a member of the local NAACP and leader of RENA and how that has brought attention to environmental justice issues in the community, and provides some background information in this interview about why people have united in the faith community. Minister Campbell speaks about the Ministerial Alliance of African-American churches; his current congregation; the importance of compassion.
Minister Robert Campbell - On needs of the community (clip)
Minister Robert Campbell - On the Ministerial Alliance (clip)
"We’re writing our own history, thank you!"
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