Activists seek community’s help in closing racial wealth gap by creating ‘Black Economic Zone’ in Durham

Durham County News

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) — Activists in Durham believe that racial economic disparity is one factor that has led to much of the recent crime in different neighborhoods in the city.

In an effort to help close the racial wealth gap plaguing these economically oppressed neighborhoods in the Bull City, some activists are working to create the Brightwood Black Economic Development Zone.

Skip Gibbs, an activist from Durham, walked CBS 17 through the four acres of land near Fletchers Chapel Road and Brightwood Lane where what he’s calling a “safe haven for Black people” will be located.

“It will be focused on changing the economic status of African-Americans in agriculture,” Gibbs said.

He said that the area will be a place where Black farmers can come to grow their crops.

“We want to be able to sustain ourselves in a capitalist society,” Gibbs said.

He said the plan is to also grow food for families in Durham neighborhoods that suffer from food insecurity.

In addition, he said the economic zone will also include an open-air market where Black entrepreneurs can sell their goods.

“I envision it being a place where Black people are free from persecution, are free from discrimination, and are free from socioeconomic disparities,” Gibbs said.

CBS 17 first reported on this initiative in July when Gibbs and a group of more than a dozen activists first decided to create the economic zone for Black people.

That move came shortly after the group camped out in front of the Durham Police Department for a month and demanded that money from the police budget be put toward helping the Black and brown communities.

When that didn’t happen, Gibbs said the group decided to take the matter into their own hands and create Brightwood.

Five months later, Gibbs said work is still being done to refurbish a barn on the property and they also also have a lot of infrastructure work to do.

He said they need donations from the community to make this possible.

Gibb argues nothing will change in the economically oppressed neighborhoods until opportunities like this open up for Black families in Durham.

“I feel like it’s important for me to get out here and renew that fire that’s already inherently in all the Black people and all the Black natives of Durham,” Gibbs said. “If we want children to see alternatives to gun violence, and if we want children to see alternatives to food insecurity, then that’s a world that we have to create.”

Gibb said the plan is to start farming crops at Brightwood this spring. If you would like to make a donation to the group’s cause, click on this link.

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