Bell: A Legacy of Community and Institutional Connections 

Category
Historical Markers
This art installation, representing the "Legacy of Community and Institutional Connections," highlights how many of of the black businesses located along Parrish Street and throughout Durham worked together to better the lives of Durham residents.


A prime example of such community connections can be found throughout the history of NC Mutual, as its influence on Durham's black community went far beyond the workplace. Its leaders founded and formed partnerships with other local institutions to reach out to as many people as possible, creating a bond between powerful businesses, places of worship and educational institutions. 

 

White Rock Baptist Church was considered "the most prestigious church of Black Durham," where the community's "movers and shakers" worshipped.  NC Mutual had a close relationship with White Rock, which attracted prestigious clergymen.  These ministers and pastors, like the NC Mutual executives, were considered leaders among the Parrish Street community.


Lincoln Hospital, founded in 1901 by Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore, was another institution that worked in partnership with NC Mutual. Much of the Hospital's administration were Mutual executives, later including CC Spaulding. Dr. Moore also founded the Durham Colored Library in the same year, which also received support from the Mutual, and would later become the Stanford L. Warren Library. The Hospital joined efforts with the Whetstone newsletter to disseminate information to increase life expectancy among the community (also from Weare's Black business in the New South).

 

James E. Shepard, who was one of NC Mutual's organizers, founded North Carolina College in 1910, which was the first liberal arts college for blacks that was publicly supported.  NCC would later grow and become what is now North Carolina Central University.  At the time, the institution's success is remarkable because of strained relationships with white lawmakers regarding higher education for blacks, which is a huge testament to the NC Mutual leaders' political savvy and the strength of the black Durham community. 



Children in church, circa 1980s or 1990s. Courtesy Duke Libraries, North Carolina Mutual Archives.