Monday, December 2, 2013, the Halifax Board of County Commissioners voted to
approve a settlement to resolve an ongoing lawsuit with the residents of the
Brandy Creek. Gary et al. v. Halifax
County, was scheduled to go to trial in January. The settlement is a
milestone in the residents’ struggle for justice following the failed plans to
develop the Carolina Crossroads entertainment district and the Roanoke Rapids
Theater in their neighborhood. The community was represented by the UNC Center
for Civil Rights and Halifax County attorney Bettina Roberts-Flood.
Posted by Jennifer Watson Marsh on Wed. December 11, 2013 12:01 PM
Categories: Annexation, Community Inclusion, Halifax County, Halifax Taxes
The Center was invited to write for Teach For America's blog, Pass
the Chalk, to commemorate the Brown v. Board of Education anniversary.
We wrote about the spectrum of segregation and resegregation in North
Carolina as an example of this disturbing nationwide trend.
Halifax community members at a rally for education equality
Although racial segregation in public schools was held unconstitutional in 1954 by
Brown v. Board of Education,
massive resistance by segregationist state and local governments
prevented meaningful implementation of this landmark ruling for over a
decade. It wasn’t until the late 1960s, and in response to community
activism, litigation, and intervention by the federal government, that
the doors of educational opportunity were finally forced open to create
equal access for children of color.
Today, almost 60 years after
its promise of an integrated and equal education remains unfulfilled. The cross-exposure of black and white students—an important measure of integration—peaked in the mid-1980s but, by 2000 was even lower than in 1968.
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Thu. May 16, 2013 12:09 PM
Categories: Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Education, Halifax County, Pitt County, Race Discrimination, Segregation, Wake County
Education advocates gather in Halifax, NC to mark the one-year anniversary of the Center's report and the county's renewed struggle for education equity
This summer marked the one-year anniversary of the UNC
Center for Civil Rights’ report, “Unless Our Children Begin to Learn Together: The State of Education in Halifax County.” To commemorate this milestone, education advocates in the community held
a press conference at the Old Halifax County Courthouse, where the report was
first presented, to review what had been accomplished in the year and the
challenges that remain to bring high-quality, equitable education to Halifax
At the press conference, CEES Vice President Gary
Grant, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, called upon county and
elected officials, parents, teachers, and students to continue the
equity: “We bear witness to the fact
that the problems of poor and barely mediocre student performance at the
public school systems has not been addressed. Nor has the root cause,
the continuing extreme racial segregation among the three school
Halifax County. The quality of education
has been undermined on a county-wide basis for much too long at too
cost to too many of our children.”
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Mon. September 17, 2012 4:17 PM
Categories: Community Leaders, Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Race Discrimination, Segregation
Land Value Increases in Brandy Creek
Residents of the Brandy Creek and Wallace Fork Road Community have opened the newest chapter in their struggle for justice against the harms caused by the failed plan to develop Carolina Crossroads entertainment district and the Roanoke Rapids Theater in their neighborhood. Residents of the community filed a lawsuit today in Halifax County Superior Court against the county, the City of Roanoke Rapids, and Weldon City Schools seeking a refund of illegally inflated property taxes collected in 2007, 2008 and 2009. After the 2007 property revaluation, their land values and property taxes went up an average of over 800%, and as high as 1400%, an intense hardship which decimated the community.
Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Fri. August 24, 2012 3:57 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Halifax County, Halifax Taxes
Ms. Florine Bell outside an abandoned home on Branch Avenue in Lincoln Heights, NC
students spent their Spring Break on the Wills Project, providing free wills,
powers of attorney, and living wills for low-wealth clients in Halifax, Lenoir,
Pitt, Avery and Watauga counties. The biannual Wills Project is sponsored
by the UNC Pro
Bono Program, Legal Aid, and the
UNC Center for Civil Rights. Before meeting
their first clients, students on the Eastern NC team were led on a walking tour
of Lincoln Heights, and excluded community in Halifax County, by community
advocate Ms. Florine Bell. Ms. Bell has
been a minister and organizer in Lincoln Heights for several years and has
spent her life fighting for economic, legal, and social justice in Halifax
outside the Lighthouse of Deliverance Church on Branch Avenue, Ms. Bell gave a
brief history of Lincoln Heights. Community Inclusion Attorney Fellow Peter Gilbert then gave an overview
of community exclusion, the layered effects of disempowerment faced by Lincoln
Heights, and the Center’s work there and in other excluded communities.
Continue reading for more pictures, student remarks, and a video of Ms. Florine Bell's introduction and Center Attorney-Fellow Peter Gilbert speaking about community exclusion.
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Tue. April 10, 2012 3:56 PM
Categories: Annexation, Community Inclusion, Community Leaders, Education, Environmental Justice, Halifax County, Heirs' Property, Law Students, Pro Bono, Race Discrimination, Segregation
Education Attorney-Fellow Taiyyaba Qureshi attended the recent Southern Region School to Prison Pipeline ActionCamp, hosted by the Advancement Project at North Carolina Central University. Workshops featured facts and stories about the various factors that put a quality education out of reach for many students, with disproportionate effects on students of color – zero tolerance policies, high-stakes testing, and unregulated school resource officers.
The truly inspirational parts of the ActionCamp were the dozens of youth activists who shared their stories of struggle against the personal impacts and long-term effects of disproportionate discipline. We are also thankful to the community leaders from Halifax County and the Rural Education Working Group attended the Action Camp, enhancing the dialogue with personal experiences of the specific needs of rural counties in North Carolina.
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Tue. March 13, 2012 4:13 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Segregation
Concerned citizens listen to speakers about continued poverty concerns in the state
The Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina
organized by the NAACP, the NC Justice Center, and the UNC Center on Poverty
Work and Opportunity, on January 19 and 20 visited
six counties in North Eastern North Carolina to hear from some of the most
excluded and exploited residents of North Carolina about their experience of
poverty. Story after story revealed the truth that poverty is not an
individual or personal problem, does not result from laziness or personal
morality, but too often results from specific government action or
inaction. The most recurring problems we heard were issues the UNC Center
for Civil Rights focuses on - manifestations of community exclusion, including lack
of access to water and sewer, segregated and underfunded schools, and unreasonably
high electric bills.
Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Wed. January 25, 2012 2:07 PM
Categories: Annexation, Community Inclusion, Education, Environmental Justice, Halifax County, Heirs' Property, Segregation
The Center for Civil Rights continued its longtime efforts to bring justice to the residents of the Brandy Creek/Wallace Fork Road community, appearing before the Halifax County Commissioners to argue for a refund of illegal property taxes collected from this small African American community. Community Inclusion Attorney Fellow Peter Gilbert presented the argument before the county commissioners.
Brandy Creek/Wallace Fork residents wait while the commissioners meet in closed session
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Fri. January 6, 2012 10:21 AM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Halifax County, Halifax Taxes
Legal representation of community groups presents unique ethical questions, especially when those groups are not legally incorporated. The rules of professional conduct generally envision a lawyer's duties to an individual client within the bounds of a formal lawyer-client relationship. Community lawyering often presents challenges that differ from this more traditional pattern. The Center for Civil Rights will address these ethical questions in an upcoming ethics CLE presented by the UNC Center for Civil Rights.
On December 1, the Center for Civil Rights will present: The People's Lawyer: A Course and Case Study in Community-Based Lawyering.
In addition to the ethics portion, the CLE also includes a case study of the Center’s community based advocacy to combat school resegregation in North Carolina. The Center will present its work with community groups in Halifax County who are working together to address the continuing challenges of inter-district segregation and educational improvement. The CLE will examine law and policy associated with public school segregation and education quality in North Carolina, and will examine litigation and non-litigation methods of addressing the issues.
Posted by Mark Dorosin on Mon. November 14, 2011 4:11 PM
Categories: Halifax County, Professional Development, Segregation
The Center began working in Halifax County in 2008 on a range of community inclusion issues.
Lincoln Heights, an excluded community on the outskirts of the City of Roanoke Rapids, worked with the Center to stop the City from locating a solid waste transfer station in their neighborhood, which has been the site of several previous municipal waste facilities. The community’s engagement and advocacy also helped bring public attention to other exclusion based impacts issues affecting Lincoln Heights, including denial of access to municipal services and electoral power in local government.
As we continued to work with communities across the county on a range of issues, one theme consistently emerged among residents throughout Halifax County: "Something is very wrong with the schools in this county."
Posted by Taiyyaba A. Qureshi on Sat. October 22, 2011 8:10 PM
Categories: Education, Halifax County, Leandro, Segregation