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Angelina Grigoryeva

Research Findings

The Impact of African-American Enclaves on Economic Mobility under Jim Crow

April 4, 2019

In downtown Durham, North Carolina, a sign commemorates Black Wall Street, a district that once hosted some of the most prominent businesses owned by African Americans in the city. The sign is located on a four-block stretch of Parrish Street, which is now populated by relatively mundane urban eateries, bars, luxury condos, and the Durham County Board of Elections. But between the late 1800s and 1960s, the area became known nationwide as a center of black enterprise and upward mobility.

The success of Black Wall Street was all the more striking because it occurred in the U.S. South during the era of Jim Crow. It was a time of white supremacist ideology, when state and local laws dictated the separation of blacks from whites in schools, public transportation, public amenities, and many private businesses. On Parrish Street and in the neighboring community of Hayti, black residents looked for paths toward economic advancement despite the hostile historical conditions.

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