Black History Month: Awesome Individual Highlight

Meet Brandi Weaver, founder of the WORLD L!T STREET FOOD FESTIVAL:

Brandi is a Charlotte, NC based creative and catalyst for change, championing cross-cultural exchange.  She is a Durham native and NC STATE grad, with fifteen-years as an engineer at Duke Energy. She recently traded in her STEM career for a focus on multiculturalism, working to bring the community together across cultural divides.  She founded a platform called WORLD L!T where she promotes and curates local cultural events.  Its purpose is to highlight the rich cultural fabric of her community and help guide people to opportunities to experience different cultures.  She feels very strongly that exposure to persons of different heritage within our own communities can help dissipate the divisiveness of ignorance, and thus make us stronger.

The highlight of her work was the WORLD L!T STREET FOOD FESTIVAL. She founded and produced this event which debuted in Charlotte, NC at Camp North End on September 2019 and attracted over 2400 attendees. The WORLD L!T STREET FOOD FESTIVAL was the manifestation of Brandi’s vision to give people a chance to connect and experience a variety of cultures. The goal was to curate a fun, experience that was enriching for US natives, as well as for those who have journeyed here from afar. Recognizing the challenges (economic and otherwise) faced by newer members of our community, the WORLD L!T STREET FOOD FESTIVAL was designed to give them a taste of home at one of Charlotte’s hottest venues.

Brandi is working to grow this festival to increase its impact on the greater community.

Black History Month: Joe Holt, Jr.

Throughout the month of February,  we are shining the light on African-American history and stories here in Raleigh and Wake County.

The excerpt below is from Smedes York’s upcoming book Raleigh: What We Remember, a collection of oral histories from Raleigh natives.  Joseph Holt, Jr. is one of the interviewees.  We expect Raleigh: What We Remember to hit shelves at Quail Ridge in the second quarter of the year.

Joseph Holt, Jr. family’s trail-blazing efforts on behalf of the Civil Rights Movement and the integration of Raleigh’s school began two years after the U. S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board of Education ruling declaring segregation in the nation’s public schools unconstitutional, and one month after the NC General Assembly enacted legislation (the Pearsall Plan) designed to thwart public school integration.  … The Holt struggle was a solitary one.  They became socially isolated, as many former friends, fearing white reprisals, began to distance themselves from the family.  Over the next several years [they] endured constant duress, experiencing intimidation and harassment from angry whites, receiving hate mail and threats on their lives from hate groups, enduring unreasonable demands from creditors, and suffering numerous economic reprisals.  His parents even received word that there was a plot to abduct their son.  The legal battle the Holts waged in federal court in the form of a suit against the Raleigh City School Board exhausted the family emotionally and physically.  The Holt fight ended in October 1959 when Joseph H. Holt, Jr. was in his senior year at J. W. Ligon Junior-Senior High School.

 

110 and Counting

York just completed its 110th year in business, solidifying us as one of the oldest companies in the Research Triangle region and certainly the oldest commercial real estate company. And, since we can’t comprehensively fact check the “oldest” claim (although Our State Magazine profiled the oldest 100 NC family businesses in 2017 and it checks out), we challenge any other locally-owned and operated CRE firm in the Triangle to debunk our claim!

In honor of this milestone, we thought it would be fun to take a look back at Raleigh in 1910 when Charles Vance (C.V.) York relocated from Greenville, NC to hang his shingle in the yet-to-be founded Research Triangle region.

Trolley at Fayetteville and Martin Streets

First a quick history lesson:  Raleigh was founded in 1792 near the geographical center of the state on the Joel Lane plantation. Lane’s house was a popular stop for travelers, so the entrepreneurial Lane built a tavern and a church to cover all needs. This precursor to Raleigh was known as Wake Courthouse or Bloomsbury (also the name of our landscaping division!).

By 1910, Raleigh was modernizing and growing into a veritable city:

  • 19,218 residents lived in Raleigh and the city encompassed 4.026 square miles. Durham’s population was slightly smaller at 18,241 residents.
  • Not only well-placed as the center of NC, the city was also marketed as the midpoint between Boston and New Orleans; NYC and Jacksonville; Quebec and Miami – “equidistant between the icebergs and the palms.”
  • The North Carolina State College basketball team, known as the Red Terrors, had a bull terrier mascot named Togo and was a huge source of pride.
  • 14 blocks downtown were paved with asphalt that year.
  • Raleigh was already an educational center boasting “..a larger school population in proportion to its total than any other place in the country and.. no fewer than twenty-nine educational institutions of all degrees” including:
    • The above-referenced North Carolina State College (now university)
    • Two historically black universities: Shaw University, the oldest HBCU in the South, and St. Augustine’s University. NC Central University in Durham was just being founded this year.

Shaw University Faculty

  • Three women’s colleges: St. Mary’s College (now St. Mary’s Highschool), Peace Institute (now William Peace University) and Meredith College (renamed in 1909 from Baptist Female University) at the corner of Edenton and Blount Streets.

Baptist Female University/Meredith College

  • The Raleigh Electric Company Power House on Jones Street was constructed that year. Little did C.V. York know that his descendants would purchase the Powerhouse Square in 2014 in a joint venture.
  • The Masonic Temple Building (133-135 Fayetteville St, NE corner of Hargett) had just opened its doors, becoming the first reinforced concrete skyscraper in NC. The building now houses a First National Bank branch and offices.
  • Raleigh’s elites were planning the Raleigh Country Club (now Carolina Country Club) and “one of the finest golf links in the South.”  C.V. York would construct the Clubhouse which opened in 1911.
  • Carolina Power & Light’s Bloomsbury Amusement Park was under construction at the end of the trolley line on Glenwood Avenue. The 100-acre amusement park, opened in 1912, was built to promote use of the company’s electric trolley and electricity, and was brilliantly lit by 8,000 bulbs.  Its original carousel is still in use at Pullen Park.

A self-proclaimed “City of Opportunity,” Raleigh was already attracting young, smart entrepreneurs like C.V. York from smaller NC towns to build their lives and businesses.  Now on the fourth generation of York leadership, York Properties continues to grow its business based on the bedrock values of excellent service, integrity and community engagement.

Sources: “Raleigh: a City at the Crossroads, 1914”; Alumni News NCSU; “Charles V. York – Builder and Entrepreneur,” by Terry Henderson; Meredith College Timeline; City of Oaks by David Fleming; National Park Service “Raleigh: A Capital City”