Roanoke’s Historic Gainsboro dates back to the founding of the Star City. The neighborhood became a city within the city as its African American residents built a thriving community. It was self-sustaining, with shops, doctors. lawyers and schools.
Urban Renewal Devastates Historic Gainsboro
The community thrived until urban renewal split it in half and cast some of its residents into public housing.
This separated people from the community that supported them. A community that celebrated their successes and one that supported each other through difficult times.
This episode of Looking Back includes FBI surveillance film of the black community, shared with us by WBRA in Roanoke. The government often surveilled African American communities. The film gives us a glimpse into the daily lives of Gainsboro residents in the 1950s.
Many of the interviewees in this 30-minute documentary have died since this recording. It was a privilege to be able to speak with those who made such a big difference in their community. We are grateful they took the time to share their experiences with us.
Looking Back was a documentary series produced for Cox Communications. Its goal was to tell the stories of the region’s landmarks and institutions. Never miss a new addition to the collection by subscribing to our newsletter.