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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 >>

Urban renewal hurt black businesses, although the buildings themselves needed repair

Sampson shares his belief that the late 1950s and early 1960s would have marked the end for many of Market Street's deteriorating buildings. He also shares his belief that urban renewal, more than integration, damaged black businesses. He is hopeful for a reversal of this trend.

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:
And so, when you look at that booklet, and you're reminiscing, what comes to mind?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
The good times It was very lively, very lively. Anywhere you wanted to go, or whatever you wanted to do, you could do everything within three- or four-block area.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Do you feel that if urban renewal hadn't come that somehow East Market Street wouldn't have lasted much longer given the end to race segregation? How do you feel about that? If not for urban renewal, would it have been something else that might have led to the deterioration of what you remember as the jumping—?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
If it had not been for urban renewal, it would last awhile, but it would not last indefinitely. The buildings was getting old and deteriorating and whatnot, so you'd have to do something with the buildings. We'd have to remodel them, or tear them down, build them over, or do something. It wouldn't last much longer. '59 or '60 or '61 was the tail end of the thing.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Right. Once integration did come to the forefront, did you notice—or other business-owners notice—a fall-off in terms of your business, because many of your patrons were going elsewhere? Did you notice that at all? Was that a big issue at all?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
No, that wasn't a big issue. Because when I moved, most of my customers followed me wherever I went. And when you move, you get a lot of new customers, so it didn't make much difference.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So again, in your opinion, it was the urban renewal really that changed things? Definitely?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
Definitely.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
And yet, you're still optimistic about what's happening now?
ROBERT R. SAMPSON:
I'm very optimistic. I think they're on the right track now, and I think they'll be successful.