On behalf of our faithful volunteers, I want to thank you for visiting the Friends of Oberlin Village (FOV) website. Our goal is to create a robust repository of information about the development of Oberlin Village, an African American reconstruction settlement established in 1866, and its outstanding citizens. Despite their suffering from slavery, segregation, discrimination and gentrification, the residents of Oberlin Village established a strong community bond and always exhibited pride, purpose and prosperity. In a News & Observer article dated August 8, 1948, Willis Briggs stated the residents of Oberlin “were esteemed by both races for their industry, frugality and high character.”
The founders of Oberlin as well as their descendants have made significant contributions both locally and on the world stage. In fact, did you know …
- Robert Fryson, a song writer grew up on Chamberlain Street in Raleigh. His hymn, “God Is” has been recorded by many artists including Aretha Franklin and Pat Boone.
- John Baker was drafted into the National Football League and later became the first African American sheriff in North Carolina. His father was the first African American police officer in Wake County.
- Oberlin Village established its own school and Latta University.
- Dr. James E. Shepard was the founder and first president of North Carolina Central University located in Durham, N.C. and helped to establish Farmers & Mechanics bank. His business acumen enabled him to become one of the richest African Americans in the nation.
- Over 100 residents from Oberlin served in the military.
- Willis Graves, Jr. became an attorney and worked with Thurgood Marshall on a landmark integration case.
- Joe Holt was the first student to attempt to integrate Raleigh’s public schools. Currently, a group of students are rallying to have a Wake County school named after the Holt family.
To learn more about these facts and many others, I invite you to explore our entire website. We will continue uploading a wealth of information as our volunteers continue their research. Feel free to let me know what information you find rewarding as well as what information you are seeking, but not finding.
We are deeply grateful for the partnerships and support we have received from our scholars – both students and staff from North Carolina State University, William Peace University and Longview school, and from our passionate preservationists – both the Raleigh Historic Development Commission and Preservation North Carolina, both of whom actively supported the acquisition, relocation and renovation of two historic homes, the Plummer T. Hall House and the Willis M. Graves House located on Oberlin road. Both houses are two of Raleigh’s most important African American landmarks surviving in Oberlin Village and are listed in the National Register of Historic Places and Raleigh landmarks.
Although we are a non-profit organization, we are still a grassroots organization that is entirely volunteer based. Our volunteers are richly diverse from student to scholar, prosecutor to prison guard, entrepreneur to retiree, and Baptist to Quaker yet, our common bond to seek and share the truth is stronger than our differences. We are a humble and steadfast group sharing our areas of expertise and passion for those whose voices have gone unheard and achievements unrecognized. It’s our love of history, education and humanity that has created and sustained an exceptional group of individuals to succeed in elevating the preservation, recognition and education of Oberlin Village on a local and national level.
We ask for your continued support to preserve Oberlin’s rich history, contributions and achievements. Your method of supporting FOV can be expressed by giving the gift of time, money or professional services.
There are still many stories to be unearthed in both the cemetery and within the walls of the few remaining homes original to the community. You are invited to become a part of our great history and our group. The Friends of Oberlin Village have no doubt Oberlin Village will continue to survive and THRIVE as it has done for nearly for over 150 years!
Only the best,