Princeville NC, is a town that was settled by former slaves seeking protection and freedom. Following the departure of Union soldiers, many of the now-freed slaves remained behind and settled in an area named Freedom Hill. Freedom Hill was incorporated in 1885 in Edgecombe County. The name was changed to Princeville in honor of Turner Prince, an African-American man who had been involved in building many of the community’s homes.
The town of Princeville North Carolina was swept away in 2001 and October of 2016, by storm surges brought up the Tar River as a result of a hurricane.
The early forefathers of Princeville were African-Americans who struggled early-on with social and economic difficulties relating to racism. Over time, the citizens of Princeville have developed a strong sense of pride in their history and in their community and the Town stands as a symbol of African-American determination and endurance.
I had grown up in Greensboro during the volatile civil riots after the Woolworth sit in in our city, and I had seen the toll it took for the price of revolution and the struggle for freedom.
However, it wasn’t a race thing that compelled me to work with Princeville but it was a knee buckling event that happened to me when I realized that the very history and roots of the American experience and particularly black history, was about to be lost in the unobserved destruction from the receding Tar River.
Of course, it was close to the holidays so the “feel good time of giving was in the air” and the media descended to tell their stories of sadness and loss and the usual “helicopter fly overs" of the government people who promised help, but as of now the Christmas for 75% of the town was spent in hotels, or homes that were severely damaged and dreams and visions that were lost. As of today, FEMA has not brought in trailers and hundreds are displaced.
This site will document these citizens and the incredible photos of after the flood, and the scars left on the faces of the people forever changed by the event.
It will take many years, many dollars, millions of hours and will take tough exterior people who have a soft gummy interior to have heart to repair the damages, but they have begun their journey to recovery.