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date: 04 March 2021

Durham, North Carolinalocked

Major city of North Carolina, and center of American tobacco industry.
  • Jim Mendelsohn


In 1869, when Durham incorporated, African Americans were arriving from the neighboring farmlands they had worked as slaves. Although the American Civil War (1861–1865) had ended, the state of North Carolina passed a Black Code in 1866 and later rejected the Fourteenth Amendment, which guaranteed full citizenship to African Americans. Racist vigilante groups repeatedly attacked African Americans in their first years of freedom. By 1867 hostility and resistance to the laws of the nation led to federal military rule of the state for ten years—the beginning of Reconstruction.

In spite of such difficulties, a black community developed as Durham became the center of tobacco processing in the United States. In 1868Edian Markum organized a school and Union Bethel Church, later St. Joseph's African Methodist Episcopal (AME) Church. By 1870, 698 African Americans lived in Durham.

Between 1870 and the early 1900s black neighborhoods ...

A version of this article originally appeared in Africana: The Encyclopedia of the African and African American Experience.

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