History of Housing Inequality in Durham Comes Alive in Exhibit at Sanford

 January 10, 2024

In connection with the upcoming talk by Pulitzer Prize winner and author Isabel Wilkerson, who will deliver the Sanford Distinguished Lecture on Feb. 22, the public is also invited to join a related exhibit, talk and reception on Feb. 23.

An exhibit on the history and effects of housing and land use inequality in Durham is on display Jan. 8 through March 8 at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. The exhibition is located on the first floor of the Rubenstein building, next to the Sanford building.

Man stands in front of exhibit "Uneven Ground."
Robert Korstad directed the team that created “Uneven Ground: the Foundation of Housing Inequality in Durham, N.C.”

The exhibit, “Uneven Ground: the Foundation of Housing Inequality in Durham, N.C,” connects the historical roots and contemporary effects of inequality in Durham. Developed in 2018, the exhibit was part of the Bull City 150 project in 2019, during the city’s 2019 sesquicentennial and is relevant today.

Robert Korstad, a professor emeritus in public policy and history, was the faculty director of the team that created the exhibit that drew on his research on inequality in North Carolina.

“Durham has a long history of racial inequality in housing,” Korstad said. “History is a powerful tool that can help examine and address racial and economic inequality in our community. Our “Uneven Ground” exhibit presents major historical themes in the story of housing and land in Durham, underscoring the role of both race and class, from the time of colonial settlers through the 1960s. We hope the exhibit lays the foundation for further reflection and community dialogue about the hopes and challenges of housing and land equity in Durham’s modern era, particularly to follow Isabel Wilkerson’s talk and as part of the Duke Centennial.”

Isabel Wilkerson
Pulitzer Prize winner and author Isabel Wilkerson will deliver the Sanford Distinguished Lecture on Feb. 22.

The exhibit was honored by Durham’s Human Relations Commission with the Fair Housing Advocacy Award in 2018. The exhibit has traveled to several sites across Durham, including City Hall and has been on display at Duke’s History Department in the past.

Wilkerson will speak at 5 p.m. Feb. 22 at Page Auditorium. Wilkerson’s talk on Feb. 22 requires no-cost tickets to attend. RSVP for the Sanford Lecture on Feb. 22.

A panel discussion on housing challenges in Durham, a preview of the exhibit, and a reception will be held Feb. 23 beginning at 4 p.m. at the Sanford building. RSVP for the Housing and Exhibit Talk on Feb. 23.

These spring events are free and open to the public, as part of the Terry Sanford Distinguished Lecture Series, endowed by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust. The spring Sanford lectures are part of the Duke Centennial, celebrating 100 years of Duke University.