A Wrenching Decision Where Black History and Floods Interwine


The town of Princeville, North Carolina is known as one of the oldest towns charted by freed slaves and continues to be a predominantly black community (96% of the population is African American). The town has been historically prone to floods with the most devastating flood to date being Hurricane Floyd back in 1999 until this past October when Hurricane Matthew hit. Now many town residents are considering selling their homes to the Federal Emergency Management Agency even though doing so threatens to end their community. At the same time, many residents feel a deep sense of pride for their community for what it stands for historically as being one first established by free slaves.

In class we’ve discussed this idea of Afrofuturism as a comparison of events in the past and taking them in context with the present or even events of the future.  Princeville reminds me of Afrofuturism through the experience that its residents are having as a result of the recurring flood issues that have plagued the town since its beginning. Many residents reject relocation not only because of the sense of home that they have for their current location but also out of fear of losing the community itself as many historically freed slave charted communities have in the past. It’s amazing to think that this community has survived as long as it has even against likely the doubts of the slave holders who provided them with this distressed and pollution inclined land.

If anything I wonder why communities like these haven’t been held by the government as historical sites and protected as such. I am especially astonished that even with the knowledge that communities of similar historical background have ended up dying away as a result of removal and relocation, Princeville is still under threat of perishing like the others.

One thought on “A Wrenching Decision Where Black History and Floods Interwine”

  1. I think that the reason why communities like these haven’t been held as historic sites is because of the concept we discussed: “history is written by the winners.” I don’t think that the government would hesitate to recognize the importance of a town created and maintained by revolutionary soldiers and their descendants. However, when it comes to slaves in an American context , history has never given them a voice. Their voice was never seen as important in the past and we see how undervalued the black story is in contemporary America through the lack of attention to communities like these.

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