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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert R. Sampson, October 9, 2002. Interview R-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Renewal projects encourage African Americans to leave before losing their businesses

The East Market Street area provided a one-stop shopping district for black Greensboro residents, Sampson recalls. He does not think the area's decline through redevelopment taught the black community any lessons, other than to do as he did and seek to locate its businesses in areas unlikely to fall prey to seizure and renewal.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert R. Sampson, October 9, 2002. Interview R-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

ANGELA HORNSBY:
How did East Market Street then cultivate a sense of community? Or would you say it cultivated a sense of community?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
I think it helped.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
I'm trying to figure out what the costs were—economic obviously. There were economic costs to the black businesses which had to move. But what other things sort of made what happened still be sort of sour in your mind?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
I don't remember. Of course, I'm getting old, and it's been a long time. I'm not young and sharp like some people working on their PhD.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
You sound pretty sharp to me. I don't want to put words in your mouth. But in what ways did your presence on East Market Street and the other business owners'—how did that foster a sense of community? If it did, I don't know.
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
I don't know. I can't give you a good answer for that. But the black person knew that they could go down in that area and find about anything they were looking for in the black community. If they wanted a medical doctor, dentist, service station, post office, grocery, play pool, cafe, movie, whatever.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Other than the moves that you've made over the years, were there any type of other changes—maybe internal changes that occurred—to the pharmacy over the years? In terms of services offered, or—?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
No, we offer the same services. Yes, when I left Gorrell, I left the soda fountain over there, but everything else the same. When I went to Murrow Boulevard, the place wasn't as large as I had over there. And we didn't have room to put everything like we wanted to. But since I knew redevelopment was coming over there, I had a chance to get in a new building. There were several doctors in the building; I figured it would be an asset to move.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
This is going back to the issue of urban renewal again. With the benefit of hindsight, what lessons do you think that the black community took from that experience?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
I don't know, unless if they decided to go into business again, they would pick an area where they figured they wouldn't be under re-development again—where you know you're there to stay. That's one reason I came up here. I got tired of moving, several coming into the cooperation were suffering the same thing. So we got together and built the building and said that this is the last time we have to move.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So that was very important then, the sense of stability.
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
Very much so.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So in a way that was sort of a form of resistance.
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
Mmm-hmm. It certainly was.