HAYTI’S FADING GLORY W
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Photography and story by Monique Lewis he Hayti Heritage Community Mural, also known as the Black Wall St. Mural, located at 201 E. Lakewood Ave., “ties a community together from an amazing past to a bright future,” said Emily Eve Weinstein, project originator and one of the muralists for the collaboration. “The mural depicts scenes from old Hayti, trying to capture and bring to the forefront some of that rich history that not too many folks know, especially here in this immediate area, where you would think people would know about it,” said David Wilson, artist and co-designer of the mural, in a 1999 interview with The Herald-Sun. Black Wall St. was the center of the African American entrepreneurial community in Durham during the 1900s. Located on Parrish St. and spanning four-blocks, Black Wall St. bordered the Hayti neighborhood and the two areas served as the center of black life in Durham. Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. Dubois visited Durham and one thing that they could both agree on is that Durham was a national model for the African-American middle class. This is where African Americans could live their American Dream. In the 1960s, urban renewal wiped out most of Durham’s black owned businesses, ending Parrish Street’s glory days forever. But in 1999 the glory days were preserved in 28-by-170-foot Black Wall St. mural. After six months of planning and grant writing, Weinstein got support from the Durham Arts Council, the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, Winn Dixie Corporation
and others to fund her project. Painting the mural took two months. Weinstein and Wilson were joined by Stickcarlo Darby, a troubled teenager with a reputation for graffiti art, about 200 fifth graders, and volunteers of all ages, to bring historical Hayti and Black Wall St. back to life. The artists thought that it would be a good idea to incorporate kids into the project to keep them out of trouble and to educate them about Hayti because many of the kids didn’t know anything about it. “On another mural project, there were five or six kids that were doing graffiti and getting in trouble, so I took these kids and I put them to work,” said Weinstein. “They were helpful and learned something; a real win-win situation.” “I’ve realized the most important thing about doing murals is having children help. It gives them a memory of something good in their lives even when life isn’t so good.” The mural was painted from right to left and features Dr. James E. Shepard, “N.C. College” (now N. C. Central University), the John Avery Boys Club, N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Co., the Regal Movie Theater, The Biltmore Hotel, Associated Cab, Dr. Philip Cousin, Sr. and his wife Dr. M. Joan Cousin, St. Joseph’s AME Church, Mother Goldie Brown/Heavenly Light, and local musicians. The mural has never been vandalized or damaged in any way, but the passage of time is taking its toll and the mural is peeling. Weinstein said she hopes someone will plan a mural revitalization so that Hayti and Black Wall St. will live on for future generations. The Biltmore Hotel One of the first Black-owned hotels in the South, where many African Americans stayed because it was the only hotel open to them.
Local musicians The last scene to be painted features John Dee Holeman, his long-time friend Fris Holloway and Billy Stevens. Holeman, who is sitting on the steps playing his guitar, and Holloway are master blues men and buck dancers. Stevens co-owned and operated the only interracial entertainment venue in the community, the Salon Cultural Center, with legendary musician Brother Yusef Salim.
Associated Cab The Regal The cab driver represents the people who gave Provided wholesome entertainment, includsuggestions and constructive criticism to the artists ing musical performances then later as a and volunteers. movie theater.
Mother Goldie Brown/Heavenly Light Mother Goldie Brown and Heavenly Light are depicted as one woman in the mural. The two women notably wore nursing uniforms and were known to walk the streets of downtown Durham prophesying — Heavenly Light in her bare feet.
John Avery Boys Club and other youths The children on the wall represent the more than 200 fifth graders, volunteers and other youth from all over the community who participated in the project.
N.C. Mutual Life The oldest and largest African-American life insurance company in the United States.
Dr. James E. Shepard and “N.C. College” Shepard was a pharmacist, religious educator, civil servant, and founder of “N.C. College,” (now NCCU), the first state-supported liberal arts college for African Americans.
Dr. Phillip R. Cousin, Sr., Dr. M. Joan Cousin and St. Joseph’s AME Church The centerpiece of the mural is Dr. Philip R. Cousin, Sr. and his wife Dr. M. Joan Cousin. Cousin was elected the 96th bishop of St. Joseph’s AME Church in 1976. W.E.B. DuBois stated, “Never in all my travels have I seen a church as great as St. Joseph’s.” The church, along with White Rock Baptist, was at the center of African-American religious life in Hayti. The building now houses the Hayti Heritage Center.