Blog Posts: Halifax County

Managing Attorney Mark Dorosin Interviewed in Halifax County Education Documentary

"School Days: Education in Halifax County Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow" is a short documentary by Tom Adams from the Center for Documentary Studies. Center Managing Attorney Mark Dorosin was interviewed and talks about the history of school desegregation in Halifax County.

Posted by Bethan R. Eynon on Thu. March 13, 2014 11:56 AM
Categories: Halifax County

Halifax County Settles Lawsuit with Brandy Creek Residents

On 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

59 Years after Brown vs. Board of Ed, the Spectrum of Segregation Persists

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 Brown, 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

Halifax advocates mark anniversary of Center's report, continue struggle for education equity

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 County.

At the press conference, CEES Vice President Gary Grant, speaking on behalf of the Coalition, called upon county and school elected officials, parents, teachers, and students to continue the struggle for equity: “We bear witness to the fact that the problems of poor and barely mediocre student performance at the three public school systems has not been addressed. Nor has the root cause, the continuing extreme racial segregation among the three school districts in Halifax County. The quality of education has been undermined on a county-wide basis for much too long at too great a 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

Brandy Creek Residents Sue for Refund of Taxes

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

Community Leader Florine Bell walks students through Lincoln Heights, NC, Halifax Co. excluded community

Ms. Florine Bell outside an abandoned home on Branch Avenue in Lincoln Heights, NC

UNC Law 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 County.

Standing 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

Reflections on the Southern Regional School to Prison Pipeline ActionCamp

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

Truth and Hope Tour of Poverty in North Carolina

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

Center Argues for Refunds of Illegally Collected Property Taxes in Halifax County

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

Center’s upcoming Ethics CLE on Community-Based Lawyering especially relevant in light of Occupy movements; Program also examines the continuing challenges of school segregation

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
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