One hundred years ago, in 1923, Chapel Hill was a segregated town.
Church Street split the neighborhood now known as Northside into Pritchard's Field, where white residents lived, and Pottersfield, where Black residents lived.
Residents of Pottersfield did not have access to the Town's services, such as police, fire protection, trash pick-up and paved roads. According to 2011 interviews by the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History, residents sometimes poured motor oil on the roads to thicken the dust and keep it on the ground.
It wasn’t until 1950 that the area was annexed into the Town and began to receive those services.
In 2011, the Marian Cheek Jackson Center conducted a series of interviews for its “History of Homes” project. Longtime residents of Northside, Euzelle and R.D. Smith, spoke about a fire in their neighborhood before they received Town services.
“The fire truck came, and it parked right there, and people were putting out the fire and they didn't even get out because we were not in the city,” Euzelle Smith said in the interview.
In 1935, under Jim Crow, there were few places for Black people to publicly gather and socialize. To create a safe space for recreation, the Negro Civic Club — an advocacy group for the Black community that was active through the '20s, '30s and '40s — proposed the Negro Community Center, now known as the Hargraves Community Center.
The Negro Civic Club also advocated for infrastructure improvements in Northside. Minutes from a 1950 Board of Alderman meeting show that the club requested sidewalks along Graham and Church streets and traffic lights at two intersections.
With the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legal segregation ended in Chapel Hill and in the United States. In 1968, Chapel Hill became the first municipality in the South to ban racial discrimination in the sale, lease or rent of all housing.