Evelyn Carr & Home, 1998.
Authored by anon in “In the Shadow of the Church: Black Study in the Town of Davidson“
last updated 02.09.2021
Placed together, Francisco Kjolseth’s photographs read as a powerful diptych. The exterior of Carr’s home is photographed from below, with the sidewalk seeming to loom above it. The scene feels very empty, with the house set far back in the trees. In contrast, the interior of her home is portrayed with a sense of fullness. The camera is above and behind her, as she stands in the kitchen holding a cup. As opposed to the more traditionally feminine attire of Porschea Smith and Ruby Houston, Carr wears a leather jacket, a pair of jeans, and a thick pair of glasses. She is the only figure in the frame, but her home is cozy and well-decorated, with a formal dinner table setting complete with long candles in the background (Kjolseth, 1999). This image argues that keeping your home together, warding off predatory gentrifiers from the College up the street, and maintaining a stronghold of community in changing times is hard work.
Although Carr is open to the idea of selling her land at some point in the future, she won’t be taken advantage of in the way that other people in her community were (Hunter Moore, 1999). The case of the College Greenway exemplifies how the College’s actions have far-reaching impacts, on and off of campus. The Davidson canon’s narrative, in which the College is an idyllic fertile ground for young minds to germinate, is wielded by Covington to violent ends, as he and other white alumni are willing to use their own capital to destroy a community in order to protect this image and story.
This anxiety about the proximity of poor Black people to the College also animated Reverend Pritchett’s actions at Brady’s Alley decades earlier. Though his intention and subsequent actions were to expand access to equitable housing, as opposed to forcing the families in question to relocate altogether, Pritchett’s original discomfort came from the location of the Lowery family’s home “in the shadow” of his church. While early DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) efforts focused on recognizing and discussing issues that occurred in West Davidson, in the “shadow” of the College, the College has been slow to enter any conversations about accountability for their actions (Mellin, 2020). Black study calls us to look at the College as casting a shadow, as operating both publicly and privately in a way that blocks out light.