2011 Diversity Committee Bus Trip
Recently DCRP students piled into a bus and headed out of town to explore some nearby communities. Our purpose was to learn how nearby communities and professionals approach the issues of diversity in planning. The bus trip lasted the whole day and consisted of the stops in Historic Stagville, the City of Oxford, and Soul City.
Located in Durham, Stagville contains the remnants of one of the largest plantations of the pre-Civil War South. The plantations belonged to the Bennehan-Cameron family, whose combined holdings by 1860 totaled almost 30,000 acres of land and approximately 900 slaves. Stagville offers a view of the past, especially that of its African American community, who greatly contributed to the economic development of North Carolina. Students visited the 1787 plantation home, an 1850 enslaved dwelling and the Great Barn, one of the largest agricultural buildings built in North Carolina before the Civil War.
(see the foot prints in the brick!)
This wasn't just a history trip, however. Students also met with the directors of planning and public works for the City of Oxford to discuss some of their current capital improvement projects. The directors discussed how they review and prioritize projects, as well as their efforts to include minority participation in the design process.
The last stop was in Soul City, a planned community founded on racial equality. First proposed in 1969 by UNC graduate and civil rights leader Floyd McKissick, the project was funded by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, (HUD) as one of thirteen model city projects funded through the Urban Growth and New Community Development Act. It was hoped that Soul City would provide a community for people of all races in the region who had suffered from the decline in agriculture production and out-migration.
Unfortunately, job-creating industries did not come, and housing construction dragged. Soul City also faced damaging federal audits and political opposition, eventually defaulting in 1980. According to Associate Professor Tom Campanella, “Visiting Soul City gave the students a chance to see first-hand a landmark of the civil rights movement and an important part of American planning history, and to meet some of the people who were involved with the historic venture."
Big thanks go out to our faculty chaperones, Mai Nguyen and Thomas Campanella, for providing in-depth background information of each stop along the way.