The Schools We All Deserve

The Struggle for Educational Equity in Durham, NC

Students and teachers stand in front of Durham’s West End School, 1906. Courtesy Durham Historic Photographic Archives, North Carolina Collection, Durham County Library

Education is a source of freedom and power. But who has access to education, how resources get distributed, and what kinds of ideas will be taught have always been political.


In each generation, Durhamites have made choices about how to respond to racial and economic education inequality. Many fought and organized and made huge sacrifices to further education equity. Others resisted–some loudly, some quietly.


As those who have inherited the Durham of today, we must ask ourselves: How has the past shaped current education divides? What does the struggle for educational equity look like today? What world are our choices creating for the next generation?


Come learn more about the history of education inequality in Durham and what the fight for equitable education looks like today!

Exhibit Info

Bull City 150 launched The Schools We All Deserve: The Struggle for Educational Equity in Durham, NC in 2019. The exhibit is not currently on display.

Scene from 2017 rally against the state ordering private takeover of Durham public elementary schools – Pauli Murray mural image in the background.

Courtesy Casey Toth, News & Observer

Bull City 150 Exhibition Team

  • Tia Hall, Community Research Manager
  • Kimber Heinz, Exhibition Developer
  • Robert Korstad, Faculty Director
  • Melissa Norton, Project Director
  • Tim Stallmann, Production Manager & Cartographer



  • Designer: Rebekah Miel (Miel Design Studio)
  • Exhibit Fabrication: Emily-Kate Hannapel
  • Proofreader: Cantrice Janelle Penn (Queer Black Editing)
  • Community Input/Feedback: William “Bill” Bell, Lucy Bergwall, Vivian Buhrman, Xavier Cason, Kelly Cosby, Bree Davis, Eddie Davis, Billy Dee, Chelsea Earles, Leah Erlbaum, Minnie Forte-Brown, Ginny Ghezzo, Alec Greenwald, Heidi Hannapel, Gann Herman, John Killeen, Andrea “Muffin” Hudson, Antonio Jones, Howie Machtinger, Mercedes
    McCurley, Adé Oni, Nadiah Porter, Alise O’Neil, Molly Parks, Bryan Proffitt, Ann Rebeck, Mark Russell, Phil Seib, Aya Shabu, Dannette Sharpley-Truong, Diane Standaert, Sonja Thalheimer, Donesha Thompson, Steve Unruhe, Trey Walk

Special Thanks

  • Shadrick Addy, Bull City 150 Digital Humanities Fellow, Summer 2018
  • Elizabeth Shulman, Durham County Library
  • David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University
  • Durham Association of Educators
  • tilde Language Justice Cooperative
  • Vera Cecelski, Stagville State Historic Site
  • Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Funding partners

Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity & Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University

William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust

North Carolina Humanities Council

Durham Public Schools Foundation

Durham 150

Anonymous Private Donors