February 27, 2008
Invisible Fences is the name of a conference I attended at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill back in 2004. That’s where I learned there are several small, mostly rural, African American communities scattered all about the state, in need of municipal services like water and sewer. This has been home for many of these communities for generations – dating back to the end of the Civil War.
One of these communities is Jackson Hamlet, in southern Moore County. It sits a fraction of a mile from one of the wealthiest municipalities in North Carolina – Pinehurst. Organizations like the Center for Civil Rights at the UNC Law School say, though close-knit and nurturing, all-black communities like Jackson Hamlet are being systematically kept just outside of the nearest town’s boundaries. Long-time resident Carol Henry says the philosophy of some of these municipalities is to “keep them close enough to us to do the work, but far enough so they won’t benefit.”
Today, Jackson Hamlet and some of the other communities blocked by an invisible fence, are working together to devise a plan for change. With the help of community organizers and students and staff from UNC’s Law School, Henry and others have gotten the ear of elected officials. This is the first of several blog postings that will document the successes and set-backs of several mostly African American communities in Moore County as they fight for services.