Voices of East Durham

The Durham Freeway serves as a dividing line between downtown Durham and the surrounding residential communities. The vibrant American Tobacco Campus and Durham Bulls Athletic Park sit to the left . The Hayti Heritage Center can be seen on the far right side of the frame. The Hayti Community, which was one of the first independent black communities in the US, has a history that dates back to the American Civil War.  

After passing by the American Tobacco Campus and Durham Bulls Athletic Park, the high-rises quickly give way to the community of East Durham. While this area is often judged by surface level statistics like crime rates and poverty levels, thousands of diverse residents with a rich culture and history call East Durham their home. The purpose of this project is to delve deeper into the community's hopes and challenges through the eyes of people who live and work there. 

Each person in this series is at the center of their own smaller community within East Durham: a barbershop, a church, a high school’s theatre program and a community garden. Each portrait is accompanied by scenes of where these people do their work. 


Michael Page poses for a portrait in the sanctuary of his church, Antioch Baptist, below. Above, the last light of day hits the church's steeple.

Annie Williams holds her Bible close to her chest during Bible study on a Wednesday night at Antioch Baptist Church in Durham, NC.

Michael Page, the pastor of Antioch Baptist Church

I would like to see opportunities exist for this community that exist for other communities in Durham . . . We have to create change. We have to continue to promote opportunities for the residents to be able to engage themselves in being a part of the community.
— Michael Page

Leslie Simonds, the Programs Manager at SEEDS, picks lemon balm with Adonis Leon, Bayron Rodriguez, Nyles Perry and Heidy Lopez during the after-school program. This lemon balm has a sweet, citrus smell and will be used to make tea. 

Kareemah Abdusamad, SEEDS Community Garden

In and of itself, I don’t think gentrification is the problem. I think it is a systematic – or systemic – approach to neighborhoods, to cities, to all of these things. Gentrification doesn’t just happen overnight.
— Kareemah Abdusamad

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Kareemah Abdusamad poses for a portrait at SEEDS Community Garden below. Natural treasures and children's drawings cover the shelves behind her. Above, dew forms on plants in the garden at sunrise.


Samuel Jenkins Poses for a portrait in his barbershop above. The windows of his shop reflect early morning light below.

Samuel Jenkins jokes with Fred Spain as he gets a haircut in Jenkins' barber shop on  Angier Avenue in Durham, NC.

Samuel Jenkins, the barber of Samuel & Sons

When is the drug store moving in? You need a drug store. I think they might have a Harris Teeter moving in way down the block. But if the Harris Teeter is over two miles, people aren’t going to walk two miles to Harris Teeter. So, you give me false hopes. The community — they are waiting for change.
— Samuel Jenkins

Jordan Jarmon, a 12th-grade student at Hillside High School, dances on stage during rehearsal for "The Wiz," which is Theatre Director Wendell Tabb's favorite musical production. 

Wendell Tabb, Hillside High School Theatre Director

When God places his children in front of you — and they look at you and say, ‘Can you help me?’ — I realized my purpose was to be here (Hillside High School).
— Wendell Tabb

Wendell Tabb, Theatre Director at Hillside High School, poses for a portrait on Hillside's stage above. Below, the seats of the theater in which Tabb does his work. 


Cars pass through the intersection of Driver Street and Angier Avenue in the early hours of the morning. This part of town has been developed over the past few years and is now a center of activity within the community.