PEOPLE + PLACE SPEAKER SERIES | Founder of Durham’s Black Wall Street

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Aaron McDuffie Moore: An African American Physician, Educator, and Founder of Durham’s Black Wall Street

Facebook Live & Zoom Virtual Event

February 16, 2021

12:00 Noon

Preservation Durham’s People + Place Speaker Series connects the people of Durham with the importance of our historic, architectural and cultural places and the stories they bring to life. 

Join us for a discussion about the life of Aaron McDuffie Moore, founder of Durham’s Black Wall Street. The author, Blake Hill-Saya and C. Eileen Watts Welch, President of Durham Colored Library who commissioned the biography.  Hill-Saya & Welch are descendants of Moore. They will talk about the book and insights on the life and leadership of Aaron McDuffie Moore a man whose community dedication went beyond mere profit and was a visionary ahead of his time with a strong commitment to improving people’s lives in every aspect – from health and education to business and the arts. 

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Get autographed copies of the book with a donation of $100 for one copy or $500 for six copies to the Durham Colored Library Inc. Support the DCL by visiting

Purchase unautographed copies at The Regulator Bookshop in Durham, NC by clicking here.


How to Join the Live Stream

Eileen Watts-Welch Photo Credit: Anthony Farrell

Saya Blake-Hill Photo Credit: Dylan J. Serbia

Aaron McDuffie Moore

An African American Physician, Educator, and Founder of

Durham’s Black Wall Street

Blake Hill-Saya

Foreword by G.K. Butterfield

Afterward by C. Eileen Watts Welch

A North Carolina visionary’s life of uplift and service

Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863–1923) was born in rural Columbus County in eastern North Carolina at the close of the Civil War. Defying the odds stacked against an African American of this era, he pursued an education, alternating between work on the family farm and attending school. Moore originally dreamed of becoming an educator and attended notable teacher training schools in the state. But later, while at Shaw University, he followed another passion and entered Leonard Medical School. Dr. Moore graduated with honors in 1888 and became the first practicing African American physician in the city of Durham, North Carolina. He went on to establish the Durham Drug Company and the Durham Colored Library; spearhead and run Lincoln Hospital, the city’s first secular, freestanding African American hospital; cofound North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company; help launch Rosenwald schools for African American children statewide; and foster the development of Durham’s Hayti community.

Dr. Moore was one-third of the mighty “Triumvirate” alongside John Merrick and C. C. Spaulding, credited with establishing Durham as the capital of the African American middle class in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and founding Durham’s famed Black Wall Street. His legacy can still be seen on the city streets and country backroads today, and an examination of his life provides key insights into the history of Durham, the state, and the nation during Reconstruction and the beginning of the Jim Crow Era.

Blake Hill-Saya is a classical musician and creative writer living in Los Angeles.

G. K. Butterfield is a U.S. Representative representing the 1st District of North Carolina, which stretches from Durham to Elizabeth City.

C. Eileen Watts Welch is the president and CEO of Durham Colored Library, Inc.

“Engaging, inspiring, and expertly written, this biography of Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore provides an important window into the history of North Carolina and Durham in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.”

—Robert R. Korstad, author of Civil Rights Unionism: Tobacco Workers

and the Struggle for Democracy in the Mid-Twentieth Century South

May 18, 2020


9781469655857 | S Cloth

280 pages

45 halftones

9.250 in H | 6.125 in W Biography & Autobiography / Cultural Heritage