Durham Mayor Candidate Pierce Freelon Talks "New Durham", Blackspace, and His Campaign

Written By: Kimberly Knight

Photo Credit: Kit Marlowe of We Personally


Happy Tuesday Luvs! 

It's Primary Election Day in the Bull City and this election will be the turning point for Durham, NC. The Lux Blog's focus has always been to share art, culture, style, and entertainment in North Carolina. That being said when it comes to politics we know how much the vote we cast can make a difference in our communities. The fact is Durham is changing and with change comes growth. Mayor Candidate Pierce Freelon is apart of that growth we are seeing and he's made it his mission to serve the people in the Durham community. I met Pierce almost a year ago while having dinner with a mutual friend of his and I could hear the passion in his tone for social change. We've crossed paths at local music events, festivals, and community events and that's something refreshing to see when you hear about people running for public office. He's in the community hearing and seeing real community concerns.So I wanted to talk to him about the issues that matter to his campaign and his thoughts on "New Durham". 

So here's how it all went down.....

Why have you decided at this time to run for Mayor of Durham?

I was born and raised here my whole life. I've been very involved in the community in various ways. I'm a professor and I run a community center. There is a disconnect of leadership with the people and the city. I think there are many reasons but chief among them is a generational gap. The median age here in our city is 32 years old. It's gotten younger in the past decade but the median age of our city council is 62 years old. So I think some of the challenges we are facing to build our city is that none of our stakeholders are in leadership to help shape it. So that was one of the big reasons it was time for millennial leaders to step up and run for office. We look from the President to the local city council and young voices of color are not present. Right here in Durham there is new development with over a billion and half dollars erupting out of downtown. New restaurants and venues are forming where even my band gets to play at a real-life venue. As a musician whose been living in this area for 33 years I appreciate that but I also realize how the most vulnerable of populations in Durham have been excluded from that growth. I just want to make sure as we grow that growth is sustainable and equitable.

We don’t have a seat at the table and we need one now more perhaps more than we ever have, but I think we had a sense of complacency that set it when Obama was in office that a lot of people snapped out of last year. - Pierce Freelon

Tell us about your campaign platforms and how are Black & Latinx populations being affected by recent developments in Durham?

Over the recent years there were over 800 evictions a month in Durham and that's the highest rate in North Carolina. Just think about that number 800. Now 40% of Black and Brown children in Durham are living in poverty as Durham becomes the city with the highest salaries for top percentiles compared to the other counties in North Carolina. Our poverty has grown. I want to develop policies around affordable housing. Also, the relationship between community and police is something that has been tenuous nationally and in Durham. So we need to build some new systems to help create safe and non-threatening streets as "Mama Maya Angelou" would say. The platform is Community, Growth, Youth, and Love. There are different policies that relate to the diagram of these 4 principles. Also, I run a community center called Blackspace where we teach kids everything from electronic music production, coding,  and 3-D printing for free and it gives our youth the same resources a Duke student would have. We do a cypher every Friday and we sent 6 kids to San Francisco to compete. So we need to bridge the gap of where the high paying innovation or tech sector positions meet the community. Blackspace tries to bridge that gap by providing internship opportunities to students. 

What are things you like to do for fun?

My band Beast recently released an album out called "Woke". I've been listening to J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, and I have a playlist on Spotify called "Peace" which is full of relaxing music. My wife and I love to watch HBO's "Insecure" and if you go on Spotify there is a Season 1 and growing Season 2 playlist with the music we hear on the show. It's mainly Solange and Raphael Saadiq curating the playlist which I love. 

Listen Here to Beast: 



Pierce Freelon is a respected husband, father, professor, musician, and community advocate whose family lineage speaks volumes. His love of the Durham community and curating community activism efforts for youth is outstanding. It's starting to become rare nowadays to meet someone who grew up in Durham and whose witnessed the evolving developments of the city. Many of us just know of Durham how it looks today but Pierce is here to address concerns for all Durham citizens not just those benefiting from the new developments. I encourage voters to read the biographies and social media pages of each candidate so you can make an informed decision. The choices you make will affect your tomorrow. I would like to thank the Campaign Office of Pierce Freelon for speaking with us and we wish you continued success.

Keep in Touch with Pierce Freelon:

Instagram, Twitter, & Facebook @PierceFreelon