"About a hundred and thirty years there: the same house. People live in it [laughter] right now!"
- Velma Perry
Velma Perry - On the history and future of Northside
In the interview Ms. Perry discusses the early history of the Northside community going back to the founding of the University and the introduction of slaves to the area. She then goes on to describe her family history, including her grandfather’s work as an undertaker and a carpenter who built many of the houses in the area. She also discusses her grandmother’s small grocery store in the neighborhood as well as her parent’s jobs at the University. Ms. Perry detailss the first schools in the area as well as the founding of St. Paul AME Church. She then goes on to discuss her time at college as well as her mother’s struggle with diabetes, followed by details on the social life of the neighborhood when she was growing up. She specifically details the Christmastime festivities, including the dances and parties held every night during the season. She also touches on the changing composition of the neighborhood, as well as the influx of student renters and the associated problems of noise issues. Ms. Perry goes into great detail on the Town’s plans for public housing in the area, and the ways in which they evolved over time. She also describes a government program that aimed to relocate Northside residents in order to then replace them with student renters- all without the knowledge of Northside residents. She also details various town plans that she took issue with as well as initiatives and ordinances that she herself was involved in. She also details her work experience in the area in addition to her volunteer work with the local Democratic Party.
Interviewed by Susan Simone on January 28, 1998
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.
"We’re writing our own history, thank you!"
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