Black History Month | A time to explore local black history, meet a few people

Highlighting priests, businesses, artists and athletes

Why explore history? Quotes on the Mechanics and Farmers Bank’s history page speak to that.

“If no use is made of the labors of past ages, the world must remain always in the infancy of knowledge.”  -– Cicero

“The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.”  – Stephen Ambrose (historian)

These are among the points highlighted in the Black History Month display in the Holy Cross gathering space. It includes photographs of individuals prominent in black history and asks readers to see if they can identify the people. See how many you can identify, then check back later this month when answers are posted by Marian Johnson-Thompson, who created the display. 

The display also has resources for those interested in exploring their genealogy and information about exhibits and events in the area that focus on black history.

A fact sheet that is part of the display states, in part:

“Throughout the U.S., North Carolina is known for its abundance of documented African American history. Many who made significant contributions to the visual and performing arts, architecture, business, civil rights, dentistry, education, government, law, literature, medicine, music, politics, pharmacy, religion, science, sports, and other fields have their origins, have lived and worked, or have studied in North Carolina.

“Look no further than Durham to find the origin of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company  and Mechanics and Farmers Bank (M&F Bank), established in the 1898 and 1907, respectively. The bank’s name reflects the trades, crafts and professions in which the founders had achieved success. The farmers represent those who owned the land and thus the majority of the wealth at that time. 

“These were among the entrepreneurial efforts along downtown Parrish Street in Durham that led to the development of Black Wall Street. During segregation, when African Americans were prevented from attending white institutions, North Carolina was home to 11 Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs). As the state with the largest number of four-year HBCUs, these academic institutions were responsible or educating many college students who went on to make contributions in other states.”

Related references

This interactive map shows clickable links to historic markers and other information about Parrish Street, when it was known as Black Wall Street for the number of businesses that thrived there. 

A street with a story

Entrepreneurial Enclaves - Durham’s story begins on page 23.

Black Catholics in America: The Raleigh Diocese’s AAMEN Food & Faith series presents this dinner and presentation about Fr. Augustine Tolton, first black priest in America. 

Audio interviews with black artists, athletes and others curated by WUNC radio as part of its Black History Month coverage,  with a few others added below by Holy Cross Communications. You are encouraged to share these links with youth in your households and others who may be interested.

Matthew Rushing of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater  

Delvin Breaux – Even a broken neck couldn’t bury his dream

Elvira Green – Living to Perform: Meet former Metropolitan Opera Singer Elvira Green (she has North Carolina connections)

Artist Stefanie Jackson – Exhibit: Fact Meets Fiction: La Sombra y el Spiritu IV

Al Strong: Love for Jazz grows deep

Rosalynde Fenner – A life undercover: Meet Retired DEA Special Agent 

Gone Home, the stories of black coal miners in Appalachia

Meet Robert Brown, CEO and founder of B&C International, a global business management consulting firm headquartered in High Point, NC.

WUNC interview with Fr. Greg Boyle, founder of Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. The interview was conducted during his recent visit to the diocese.


Tags: Black History Month, black musicians, black artists, black athletes, black priests

Parish News Blog

Updates and details regarding Bulletin items and current news and events. View the parish e-newsletter for additional news and updates. Read More


Celebrate 10 AM Sunday Mass Online

Saturday, July 11, 2020
This Sunday, Holy Cross will begin broadcasting our 10 AM Sunday Mass – via our new live stream service – to the parish’s... Read More

Introducing Fr. Daniel PalĀ 

Friday, June 26, 2020
It’s been nine days since I arrived in Durham, and I’m writing these words to introduce myself to the parishioners of Holy Cross in... Read More

Online Giving

Online Giving

Secure and Convenient Donate now!