The Foundations of Housing Inequality in Durham, NC

In 2019, Durham, North Carolina will celebrate the 150th anniversary of its founding. Much has changed in the 150 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 many are not benefiting from Durham’s renaissance, especially when it comes to housing. Gentrification is rapidly displacing historic working-class communities, Durham County has the highest eviction rate in the state, and wages are failing to keep up with quickly rising housing costs. By nearly every measure, great housing inequality exists, and in many ways, is deepening.

Our team believes that these problems cannot be addressed without a deeper understanding of the roots of inequality in the place we call home. History is a powerful tool: the stories we tell each other impact the policies we create and the ways we come together to address racial and economic inequality in our community. “Uneven Ground” presents major historical themes in the story of housing and land in Durham, underscoring the role of both race and class, from the time of colonial settlers through the 1960s. We recognize that the story does not end there, and hope that this exhibit lays the foundation for further reflection and community dialogue about the hopes and challenges of housing and land equity in Durham’s modern era.

Exhibit Sections

Exhibit Team

Tia Hall, Community Research Director

Kimber Heinz, Exhibition Project Manager

Robert Korstad, Faculty Director

Melissa Norton, Project Director

Tim Stallmann, Research Cartographer & Lead Designer

Funding Partners

Innovation and Impact Grant and Policy Bridge Fund, Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University

Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity, Duke University



Design Support

Rebekah Miel, Miel Design Studio

Artist Collaboration

Moriah LeFebvre

Research Assistants

Maya Durvasula

Mina Ezikpe

Adrienne Harreveld

Shadman Uddin

Amy Swain

Trey Walk

Early Feedback

Benjamin Filene

Andrea Farrior

Brother Ray Eurquhart

Ivan Almonte

DeDreana Freeman

Gann Herman

Dan Hudgins

John Killeen

Barbara Lau

Selina Mack

Nadiah Porter

John Schelp

Camryn Smith

Danielle Spurlock

Emily Stewart

Mayme Webb-Bledsoe

Janet Xiao

Special Thanks

Quran Karriem and Ilsa Spaan, Leads Creative

Sara Leone, Proofreading

Bull City Signs

Emily-Kate Hannapel

Elizabeth Schulman, Durham County Library

Jason Tomberlin, Wilson Library, UNC Chapel Hill

City of Durham Human Relations Division

Durham Community Land Trustees

Aaron Carapella, Tribal Nations Maps

Katina Parker

Bruce Orenstein, Center for Documentary Studies

David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Duke University

Laura Williams, Music Library, Duke University

James Davis, Toya Merritt, Larry Revelle, Uneven Ground Audio Recording

Shadrick Addy, NC State University

Copyright © 2018 Bull City 150.