UNC law professor Elizabeth Haddix, left, and the center's managing attorney and UNC law professor Mark Dorosin, right, with Virginia Ingram. Photo courtesy of Haddix.

UNC Center for Civil Rights plans for the future following the September BOG decision

This past September, the UNC Board of Governors voted to ban litigation work done by the UNC School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights — which provided pro bono work to low-income communities — on the belief that this should not be the center’s focus. 

Rogers Road Community

The Rogers Road Neighborhood, a low income and minority community that straddles Chapel Hill and Carrboro, housed the Orange County landfill for over 40 years. In 1972, Orange County officials approached the neighborhood about hosting the landfill. Eventually, the two groups struck a deal: if the neighborhood housed the landfill for 10 years, Orange County would provide water and sewer hook ups for the neighborhood's neediest residents as well as a community center for families in the area. 

But after 10 years, the landfill still wasn’t full, and county leaders opted to extend the life of the landfill — a process that continued until June 30, 2013 when the landfill finally closed. Throughout the 2000s, Rogers Road was the center of a national debate about environmental racism, the process by which businesses and municipalities degrade land near low income communities that might not have the resources to fight back. In 2010, the Orange County Health Department conducted a study that found that nine of 11 wells in the Rogers Road area were contaminated.

The Orange County Board of County Commissioners, the Chapel Hill Town Council and the Carrboro Board of Alderman have since tried to work with one another about the appropriate payment plans for the promised amenities for the neighborhood. Plans for a community center started to take shape after county commissioners approved funding for the construction of the center in 2012.

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The Rogers Road Community Center opened Saturday morning. The center will be an educational space for the community.

Rogers Road community center opened on Saturday

The Rev. Robert Campbell and David Caldwell, both longtime Rogers Road residents and community activists, remember their childhood playing in woods surrounding their neighborhood, collecting wild fruits to eat or take home and store for the winter.