Durham’s Black Wallstreet: Finding Freedom Through Entrepreneurship
DURHAM, NORTH CAROLINA
Capital. Courage. Connection.
The themes and keys to success in the exhibit Finding Freedom through Entrepreneurship: Durham’s Black Wall Street.
This exhibit was developed with the Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity at Duke University. Throughout 2021 and the early months of 2022, the exhibit traveled to four locations on the Duke University campus before being installed in the landmark NC Mutual Building in downtown Durham.
Finding Freedom through Entrepreneurship: Durham’s Black Wall Street was debuted
at the Karsh Alumni Center as part of the Capital Matters 2019 conference to create conversation around the gaps in opportunity for Black-led and
women-led businesses—creating discussions around ways to begin action resolving these inequities.
Design Dimension, Inc. worked with the Cook Center team and exhibit writer Kimber Heinz to develop the exhibit experience. The modular form is designed around the key themes, sharing strong imagery of successful businesses from Hayti, Durham’s central Black neighborhood under segregation throughout the early to mid-20th century. The North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company was the first Black financial institution in Durham, situated on Parrish Street, the heart of Black Wall Street (1906). The exhibit explores successes, resiliency, struggle, destruction, and hope. Through interactive mapping of the changes in downtown Durham, interviews, and oral histories, visitors can take a deep dive into the history and decline of the Black businesses. The exhibit wraps by directing visitors to see the racial wealth gap that exists locally and nationally. Through a partnership with Duke University, the entire exhibit is available online to continue the conversation and connect resources for entrepreneurs through the Cook Center.
Exhibit Content Development
Community Stakeholder Meetings