By CALVIN ADKINS
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
PRINCEVILLE — In hopes of uniting the town, four East Carolina University students are sponsoring a Family Fun Day from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Princeville Museum.
The sponsorship is part of ECU's social work curriculum Community Intervention Progam for seniors Tracy Hyde of Tarboro, Tim Barnes of Elm City, Daniel Joyner of Rocky Mount and Asia Joyner of Greenville.
"We felt that a day of positive activities for community members would help bring back the sense of belonging and cohesion to the town," Hyde said. "Also, we chose to have the event at the Princeville Museum located in the old town hall. We hope this will offer a chance for people to learn and understand the historic value that the town of Princeville has to offer. We are really looking forward to hosting this event and hope for a great turn out. Our goal is to bring the community back together and perserve the town's history."
Former mayor Delia Perkins, town commissioner Ann Howell and lifelong resident Dr. Deloris Porter will be guest speakers at the event. Discussions concerning the town's rich history and it's proclivity to flooding will be the topics.
Princeville, which was incorporated by freed slaves in 1885, and is the oldest town in American chartered by blacks. Although the accomplishment is of national magnitude, the town has not received highly rated national notoriety.
"I didn't know it was the oldest town founded by slaves until after the flood," Barnes said. "I took a North Carolina history class and it is not published in it. "Although I've heard a lot of negative stuff about Princeville, the history separates itself from it."
It took a devastating flood for the town to gain more attention than ever. In 1999, Hurricane Floyd's flood dumped a tremendous amount of water in Eastern North Carolina. Princeville, which was prone to flooding before a dike was built to keep the water away, was submerged in water for several days. Federal, state and local officials came to the town's rescue.
After the water receded, the town officials were forced to vote on whether or not they would move the town to higher ground or stay in the existing spot. In a 3-2 vote, town officials opted to keep the town on the existing ground.
The town was rebuilt and more vibrant than it had been in many years. However, in recent years infighting between the town officials and the town's finances that caused the Local Government Commission to take over the town's books, gave Princeville a black eye.
Before deciding to commit to the project the students did a community analysis by interviewing citizens, researched of the town's history and made observations.
From that analysis, "We decided that a beneficial intervention for Princeville would be to have a "community fun day," Hyde said. We hope this will offer a chance for people to learn and understand the historic value that the town of Princeville has to offer.
"We are really looking forward to hosting this event and hope for a great turn out. Our goal is to bring the community back together and perserve the towns history."