While Main Street is often considered the heart of Newark’s social life, many of the businesses there were legally segregated during the Jim Crow era. Even after desegregation, many Black students and residents felt unwelcome there. In this section, interviewees reflect on their various experiences on Main Street.
Reid Barrow interviewing Marva Bond-Smith
Marva Bond-Smith discusses the historic building which houses the current Deer Park Tavern at the end of Main Street at the corner of New London Road. She describes how Black patrons were forced through the back door to buy food or drink inside. This was so poignant that Mrs. Smith refuses to go to Deer Park to this day. The establishment is a running theme when one talks about the social dynamics between the Black and white communities of Newark. Throughout the interview, Mrs. Smith says she “stayed in her own lane” when it came to interacting with the white community but in this clip, she speaks briefly to her mother’s experiences at places like the Deer Park.
Daniel Minze interviewing Richard Matthews
In this clip, Richard Matthews talks about his experience on Main Street in Newark. He talks about how he and his friends would walk to school down Main Street and when the white students would pass them in their buses, they would yell, curse, and throw things at Matthews and his friends.
Devin Roth interviewing Patti Wilson-Aden
Here, Patti Wilson-Aden details some of the discriminatory practices of the town and businesses of Newark. She remarks that, even after some of the practices had changed, the discrimination was still felt. Despite this, she commented on the positive aspects of growing up in Newark.