Escaping environmental threats, African Americans move between nodes along a former underground railroad route from Princeville to Greensboro. In 20 years, floods displaced more than 2,000 Princevillians. Environmental justice issues in Greensboro include: soil and water contamination, lack of housing and green space, food deserts, and intensifying storms.
In 1885, Princeville became the first U.S. town incorporated by formerly enslaved people, but racism obscured this achievement. Since 1999, many have also lost their homes to hurricane-related floods. Some moved to Greensboro, which hosts other displaced people and EJ issues.
Reclaiming identity is a step in addressing environmental injustice and historic oppression. Princeville’s Portraits of Humanity exhibit shares its history of faith, unity, and resilience. FaithAction International House in Greensboro, a place of refuge, has an ID card program for the whole community that helps restore identity to displaced people who lack documentation.
Our Point of View
As environmental and sustainability studies students, we have worked towards the preservation of nature while learning about vulnerable communities. From coastal drilling to mountaintop removal in the Appalachians, our state faces many environmental justice issues. We have gained insight into the relationships between environmental and social issues that affect North Carolinians. With this project, we hope to increase awareness of environmental injustices and the importance of community.
—University of North Carolina, Greensboro
FaithAction International House educates and connects community across lines of culture and faith—turning strangers into neighbors. We help meet basic needs and provide translation, education, and employment readiness; safe space and accompaniment for domestic/sexual violence victims; and identification cards in partnership with local agencies.
Incorporated after the Civil War, Princeville is the oldest town in the U.S. chartered by African Americans who had been enslaved. Two hurricane-related floods devastated the town in 1999 and in 2016. Residents of Princeville are determined to rebuild and preserve their legacy.
—FaithAction International House and the Town of Princeville