Durham, North Carolina will celebrate its sesquicentennial in 2019. Much has changed in the one-hundred fifty years since the city’s beginnings as a depot on the railroad between Raleigh and Hillsborough. Today, Durham is a midsize southern city on the rise. Located in one of the fastest growing regions in the country, it is staking out its place as a hotspot in the new economy. But not everyone is benefitting from Durham’s renaissance. One fifth of the city’s population is living in poverty, wages are failing to keep up with quickly rising housing costs, and the public-school system exhibits large achievement gaps by race and class. By nearly every measure, great disparities exist, and, in many ways, are deepening. Bull City 150 believes that the current landscape of inequality cannot be understood, let alone reckoned with, without a more complex understanding of the deep roots of inequality as they took hold in the particular place we call home. The purpose of the Bull City 150 project is to undertake extensive community engagement with policymakers, non-profit leaders, grassroots activists, and the Durham community to facilitate educational opportunities, deep dialogue, and a collective reckoning about how we got here, and what is needed to ensure a more equitable Durham in the future.
Bull City 150 focuses on one geographic area (Durham City and County) from its founding in the Reconstruction period to the present. Using the interdisciplinary tools of history, geography, public policy, sociology, and documentary research, the project develops vivid descriptions of the origins of race and class disparities in Durham and how they have evolved over time. It calls on the public to become actively engaged in the process of making sense of history and imagining a more equitable future.
A particular focus of BC150’s public education is to grapple with inequality as a relationship, where some groups are institutionally advantaged, and others disadvantaged. In order to do this, we highlight the historic role and evolution of white privilege, which is often left in the background of historical narratives. Local history, populated by familiar people, geographies, institutions, and landmarks, is a powerful teaching tool for describing how white privilege was built and sustained.
Uneven Ground is a traveling public exhibition by Bull City 150 that tells the story of the historical roots of current-day land and housing inequality in Durham, North Carolina. We have also partnered with Durham-based artist, Moriah LeFebvre, to show several of her works that convey current residents’ impressions of a changing Durham. Utilizing the exhibit, Bull City 150 intends to provoke dialogue and a collective reckoning among Durhamites about how we got here and what is needed to ensure that we do not repeat the mistakes and injustices of the past. Uneven Ground is designed as a traveling exhibit, and can be adapted to a variety of groups and spaces. Want to schedule a group tour of the exhibit or host the exhibit in your own space? Please take a look at our Uneven Ground travel and host site agreement and contact Kimber Heinz by email at [email protected] Please note that we do charge host sites for exhibit travel, installation, and Bull City 150 staff time, but we acknowledge the reality of economic and racial injustice. For that reason, we have adopted a sliding scale for groups that wish to host but are unable to pay.