HAYTI: The Legacy of Black America
Presented by: Cultural Heritage Group
Executive Producers: Victor Stone, Jaisun McMillian and Kelvin De’Marcus Allen
1946 (Courtesy The Herald-Sun Newspaper)
In the years after the Civil War, former slaves all over the south looked forward to new independence and the prospect of great opportunities ahead. Many migrated to Durham, NC to take advantage of the booming tobacco and textile industries. Durham quickly developed a vibrant Black community, the center of which was an area known as ‘Hayti’. From the 1800’s through the 1900’s, Black Durham prospered both politically and socially as a self-reliant community.
Hayti became one of the most unique and successful Black communities in America, where in the early 20th century some of the largest Black-owned and operated businesses existed. Durham was recognized by prominent national Black leaders such as Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, as the “The Black Capitol of the South”.
Durham’s most well-known businesses were North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company and Mechanics & Farmers’ Bank, which would come to be known as “Black Wall Street.” In 1910, Dr. James E. Shepard founded North Carolina Central University, the nation’s first publicly supported liberal arts college for African-Americans.
Hayti The Heritage: The Legacy of Black America explores the rich African-American experience in Durham during the city’s first 100 years. The film attempts to answer the question; How did a community filled with economic power and skill of innovation lose economic viability and social relevancy?