Online Program

Princeville flood and the continuity of inequality

Monday, November 4, 2013 : 10:55 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.

Richard Mizelle Jr., Ph.D, History, Florida State University, Tallahassee, FL
Founded in 1865 by former slaves on the banks of the Tar River in eastern North Carolina, the town of Princeville became one of the nation's first independently governed African-American communities. In 1999 back to back hurricanes converged on eastern North Carolina displacing the 2,100 residents of the community and destroying millions of dollars worth of property. Stories of the neighboring town of Rocky Mount opening floodgates to the Tar River Reservoir Dam twenty miles upstream without notifying either Princeville or state officials quickly became a source of consternation and outrage reported in local newspapers, with some interest on the national level. Some leaders would argue that Rocky Mount's actions sealed the fate of Princeville. The employment of natural resources as a window unto social, cultural, and political hierarchies is not new; however the location and legacy of Princeville makes this case study worthy of more historical attention. It is clear that land developers and speculators wanted to annex Princeville's riverfront property and pressed residents to sell their property in the decade before the storms. After the disaster conflicting stories emerged of state and federal officials advising Princeville residents to permanently abandon their homes and relocate elsewhere.

Learning Areas:

Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Describe the resource inequality that led to the displacement of Princeville, NC residents Analyze how Princeville's story was a precursor to Hurricane Katrina Identify ways in which we can build resilient environmental communities in the future

Keyword(s): Environmental Justice

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have co-authored a book on Hurricane Katrina and Resiliency in the last two years. Also, I am completing a monograph on the 1927 Mississippi River Flood.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.