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Oral History Interview with Robert R. Sampson, October 9, 2002. Interview R-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    At the time of this interview, Robert Sampson was running a pharmacy on East Market Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Sampson describes how urban renewal in the late 1950s and early 1960s affected Greensboro's thriving black shopping district on Market Street. Sampson himself managed to stay ahead of redevelopment efforts, leaving areas destined for change for places he thought more secure. However, most black businesspeople did not expect renewal efforts or see them as inevitable; as a result, they lost their businesses and often found it impossible to rebuild or relocate. While Sampson concedes that the dilapidated buildings on Market Street needed work, he suspects that the choice to seize and redevelop, rather than fund remodeling, was an effort by white Greensboro to dissolve a successful black business district. The effort worked, silencing a lively area and greatly damaging black businesses. This interview provides a look at a black business community's struggle to maintain its coherence in a changing economic climate.
    Excerpts
  • Sense of inevitability about losing land to government project
  • A deteriorating neighborhood, nevertheless full of life
  • Renewal projects encourage African Americans to leave before losing their businesses
  • Urban renewal hurt black businesses, although the buildings themselves needed repair
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.