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Learn how to do effective activism on Duke's campus


Learn how one Durham neighborhood fought back against national policy and won. The Crest Street community resistance worked because of coalitions between community members, legal aid attorneys, and local political organizations. What can we learn from this story that is applicable today?

Panelists include:

145William Patterson has been the President of the Crest St. Community Council since 1975. A graduate of Hillside High and N.C. Central University, a 22-year Air Force veteran, and a former manager of the Duke University Medical Center Labor Union–he first began working to enhance quality of life in Crest Street in the 1970s. Patterson worked closely with the late Dr. L.W. Reid, pastor of New Bethel Baptist Church, to promote housing for neighborhood seniors, safety and security, and youth development. When the very existence of Patterson’s community was threatened by the proposed extension of the Durham Freeway, he led the opposition. Patterson and Reid formed partnerships with Duke University, legal-aid attorneys, and the City of Durham to successfully negotiate with the North Carolina Department of Transportation. For their leadership and courageous advocacy, Patterson and Reid were awarded the Z. Smith Reynolds Unsung Heroes Award in 1989. In the years since, Patterson has continued to advocate for Crest Street. He has worked closely with the City of Durham, New Bethel Baptist and Duke University. For the youth of Crest Street, Patterson developed a summer jobs program and co-founded the Crest Street Tutorial Project. To preserve Crest Street’s sense of community, Patterson directs annual community days and lobbied for the recreation center that bears his name. Patterson also leads an annual neighborhood clean-up day and works with Duke Energy to keep the local power lines and underbrush in order. These remarks were written by Sam Miglarese, Director of Community Engagement at Duke University, when Mr. Patterson retired. Read more.

Screen Shot 2015-10-14 at 4.40.44 PMDuring the two years before Alice Ratliff entered law school, she taught in the North Carolina public schools. In 1976, she began practice with the North Central Legal Assistance Program in Durham as a staff attorney, specializing in housing law. She remained there until 1987 and during that time held the positions of supervising attorney, managing attorney, and acting director. In 1987, she joined the UNC-Chapel Hill law faculty as a supervising attorney in the Civil Legal Assistance Clinic. In addition to supervising the civil clinic, she taught civil lawyering process and professional responsibility. She remained with the Civil Clinic as a Clinical Professor until 2006. She is currently teaching professional responsibility.


33f0d25Mike Calhoun is president of the Center for Responsible Lending (CRL), the policy affiliate of Self-Help, the nation’s largest community development lender. He considers himself “fortunate to work with an extraordinarily talented staff and a dedicated coalition of organizations fighting to provide economic opportunity and advancement for low- and moderate-income families and families of color.” For more than 30 years, Mike has been on the front lines of working for economic justice. At CRL, he provides management and policy leadership. Based in DC, he often testifies in Congress and appears frequently in national media as an expert on financial issues. Prior to joining CRL in 2001, Mike led several lending divisions at Self-Help, providing responsible consumer loans, mortgages and small business loans, and heading an innovative program to provide national capital for affordable home loans. He has represented families to secure civil rights and consumer protections, including working for ten years as a legal aid attorney. He is a former member and chair of the Federal Reserve Consumer Advisory Committee. Mike received his BA degree in economics from Duke University, and his JD degree from the University of North Carolina.


This event is a part of the Our Right to Say: Gentrification and Durham’s Future series.

Near the end of his life, Malcolm X pushed civil rights leaders to reframe their struggle as a campaign for human rights that included the right to self-determination. Gentrification — when market forces shift city neighborhoods into the control of the wealthy — can be examined in this light, since the voices of long-time and often poor and minority residents can be overlooked or suppressed in a push to “clean up” or renovate for wealthy, white families. In today’s Durham, gentrification is on dramatic display as former mill villages and warehouses are replaced by pricey condos, craft beer halls and locavore restaurants. How does a human rights lens shape the way we see our changing city? Who is making the decisions that will dramatically reshape this historically black and working-class city?

Sponsored by the Duke Human Rights Center at the Franklin Humanities Institute, the Forum for Scholars and Publics, and the Pauli Murray Project.



October 27, 2015
2:30 pm - 4:00 pm


Smith Warehouse, FHI Garage, Bay 4
114 S Buchanan Blvd
Durham, NC 27701 United States
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