H is for Hayti
In 2015 the Museum of Durham History, in collaboration with the Hayti Heritage Center, opened an exhibit in the Durham A-Z series: H is for Hayti. With support from donors and the Museum of Durham History, the exhibit has been re-created for permanent display at Hayti.
“We were so pleased to help bring a vital part of Durham’s history to life through H is for Hayti.,” said Hayti Heritage Center Executive Director, Angela Lee. “It is exciting to make this a permanent exhibit at Hayti, which was an integral part of Black Wall Street.”
For decades, Hayti was the social and cultural center of Durham’s black community and a model for self-sufficient African American communities in the South. The neighborhood formed after the Civil War when freed men and women moved to Durham in search of work and opportunity. They adopted the name Hayti for their new home after the independent black nation of Haiti.
In downtown Durham in the 1890s, Jim Crow laws enforced segregation among shoppers, diners and travelers. But in Hayti’s commercial district, businesses allowed black residents to shop with dignity and support their neighbors. Residents could get nearly anything they needed without having to leave the neighborhood. Schools, a library and a hospital emerged out of Hayti’s strong church and community groups.
The exhibit H is for Hayti focuses on the history of the neighborhood, including its vibrant businesses, schools, cultural activities, social institutions and churches. The exhibit also addresses the loss of many of Hayti’s businesses and homes in the late 1950s to urban renewal and the Durham freeway as well as how current residents preserve and carry forward Hayti’s legacy.
“Heartfelt thanks to all who attended the H is for Hayti reception. Thanks also to our artists: The NCCU Vocal Jazz Ensemble, Dasan Ahanu, Whistlestop Tours and Winifred Garrett. We also thank historian and author Andre Vann. Your support of this permanent exhibit is greatly appreciated.”
Angela Lee – Executive Director
The Hayti Heritage Center is a cultural arts and arts education center committed to preserving and advancing the heritage and culture of historic Hayti and the African American experience through programs that benefit the broader community locally, nationally and globally. In addition to core programs, the Center is an ideal venue for social, business and private rentals. Our 400 seat Performance Hall is on the National Historic Registry. Its flawless acoustics have inspired renowned artists to record CDs there. For more information contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Museum of Durham History is a 21st-century museum that uses stories about people, places and things to foster curiosity, encourage further inquiry, and promote an understanding of diverse perspectives about the Durham community and its history. The Museum’s home, the History Hub, is located at 500 W. Main St. and is open Tuesday-Saturday, 10am – 5pm. There is no admission charge. For more information, see www.modh.org.