African American News and Genealogy

This site was developed to provide you with news that relates to African American Genealogy, History and News. Please feel free to forward this link to others. I hope you enjoy this site and good luck with your research! Cheers, Kenyatta D. Berry Managing Director

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Gillespie Street — once home to city’s black professionals

By Chick Jacobs Staff writer The trees are gone — stout, long-armed oaks that seemed on summer days to embrace Gillespie Street and shield its homes from the fierce heat. Those homes, nearly all of them, are gone as well. Some felled in the name of progress, others taken by time and termites, alive only in the memories of those who saw them in their glory. Soon, those people will be gone as well — and they’ll take the memory of what once was the premiere home to the black professional class of Fayetteville with them. It’s Black History Month, and the story of this once-thriving black neighborhood along Gillespie Street is important because soon there may not be anybody left who remembers it. A quick drive down Gillespie, from Russell Street south, is a cruise through the gap-toothed grin of what becomes of a community lost. The few homes that remain standing loom like outposts between empty lots cluttered with the inevitable debris of a throwaway society. But a century earlier, Gillespie Street was the cradle of a thriving black community. The two-story, well kept homes and neighbor markets rested in summer shade. Instead of the disinterested hum of traffic, you might have heard the plunking of piano lessons and the impromptu preaching of a pastor rehearsing Sunday’s sermon. “I don’t even like going down there now,” said Ernestine W. Smith. Now 90 years old, she prefers to see her old neighborhood in the past. “It’s hit the skids. The community that was there is gone Full Story:


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