Gateway to the World
Raleigh Bailey, Ph.D., UNCG
Department of Social Work
Moderator: Gale Greenlee, Glenwood Public Library
Jake Henry, Guilford County Newcomers School
Kathy Hinshaw, Center for New North Carolinians (Peru)
Omer Omer, NC African Services Coalition (Sudan)
H’Tuyet Rahlan, Center for New North Carolinians
Gateway to the world
• Greensboro is recognized as a
Gateway for newcomers
• Newcomers across US right now, but
Greensboro has unique qualities
• There are 120 first languages in the
public schools,
• An abundance of new churches,
temples, mosques generated by
• Let’s take a quick glance through
history to what has brought us here
1708: 100 years before Greensboro
The American Indians
• No known Indian villages in
Greensboro/Guilford area
• 1701, John Lawson, explorer, said
village evidence in Mayodan area
• He visited Keyawee village in
• Triad was well established
passageway for the first immigrants• Native Americans traversing between
northern and southern nations
• Prehistory 10,000 year evidence of
many native cultures and civilizations
• Woodland era, Mississippian
• When Europeans arrived, NC
area had an estimated 100,000
American Indians, and100 tribes
• Most were killed or forced away
• No Europeans or Africans had
come into the Greensboro area
• First European visitors were
probably Spaniards,
missionaries trying to establish
a mission in the Cape Fear
River area in the early 1500’s
• First European language
spoken in what is now NCSpanish
• First English settlers came to
Roanoke Island in 1587
1758: 50 years before Greensboro
Early colonial era
• German Lutherans came in 1740s
– eastern Guilford County
• They came as secondary migrants
from Western Pennsylvania
• Friedens Lutheran Church
established near Gibsonville, 1744
• Maintained German language
through church schools for about a
• English speaking Quakers settling
in western Guilford County, 1750’s
• New Garden Friends
Meeting,1764, reported buying its
land from Cheraw Indians
• (Indians probably did not have the
European concept of land
• Scotch Irish Presbyterians settled
in mid Guilford, 1750’s
• West African forced migrants,
slaves, brought to area for
farm labor, 1750s
• Much smaller numbers of
Africans than coastal
• Slaves combined traditional
cultures with colonial life
1808: Greensboro incorporated as
a city
• Greensboro was not a major
gateway for newcomers
• Population was growing mostly
within existing ethnic groups
• secondary migrants seeking land
came from other parts of US
• African heritage community
included slaves and free
• Some migration west by
Quakers opposed to slavery
1858: Greensboro 50 years old
• Newcomers included Irish immigrants,
fleeing potato famine
• A Roman Catholic presence alongside
array of Protestants
• Greensboro, like other parts of the
country, torn by slavery issue
• Active underground railway and
resistance toward secession
• Railroad opened in 1856, connecting
Goldsboro and Charlotte
• Greensboro, as central point, became
known as a transportation center
• Industrialization becomes major factor in
local economy
1908: Greensboro 100 years old
• 1882 Chinese Exclusion act,
restricted immigration to
• Greater national percentage of
immigrants than now
• Greensboro, and most of the
nation, still were not initial
gateways for immigrants
• Ellis Island as gateway to industrial
• Immigrant waves stoked nation’s
economy, but not in the south.
• Industrial revolution began
transforming Greensboro
• Cones, Benjamins, Sternbergers,
brought textile mills
• Judaism brought new tolerance
and acceptance of diversity
• Greensboro higher education
opportunities were growing
1958: Greensboro 150 years old
• Aftermath of World War II led to
United Nations refugee programs
• Independence movements broke
colonial tiesin Africa, Asia, Latin America.
• NC farms shifting to migrant labor,
primarily Latino and Caribbean
• Latinos in Guilford County were farm
workers, out of sight
• Greensboro, as well as other
communities, struggling with
1968: Greensboro 160 years old
• Impact of 1964 Civil Rights Act
• Impact of 1965 Immigration Act
• Sit In movement brings newer
visibility to Greensboro
• West African nations sending
students to NC A&T State University
• Ghanaian, Nigerian, Liberian, Sierra
Leonian communities established
• Urban job migration brings
thousands of Lumbees, other
Indians to Triad
• Latinos in Guilford County as farm
workers, still out of sight
1978: Greensboro 170 years old
• Vietnam War ends, influx of
Southeast Asian refugees
coming to US
• Greensboro faith based
communities sponsor refugee
• Greensboro still works on
desegregation issues
1988- Greensboro 180 years old
• Refugee Resettlement Act of 1980 sets
up refugee resettlement systems
• Greensboro refugee resettlement
network becomes professionalized
• Faith communities partner with
business, human services, schools
• Greensboro targets SE Asian refugees
• Vietnamese, Cambodian, Laotian,
Montagnard communities established
• 1986 Immigration Reform & Control Act:
path for farmworker citizenship
• Other new immigrant communities
emerging-Korean, Indian, Pakistani-
1998- Greensboro 190 years old
• Farmworkers move into construction,
factory work, and bring families
• 2000 Census recognizes NC as fastest
growing Hispanic immigration state
• Additional refugee resettlement agencies
establish Greensboro as base
• Refugee resettlement expands to
Africans: Somalis, Rwandans, Sudanese
• Smaller European refugee populations
include Bosnians, Russian Jews
• 1996 Immigration Reform and Control Act
restricts immigrant entries
• 1996 Personal Responsibility/Work
Opportunity Act restricts services
• Ethnic enclave communities become
magnet for other newcomers
• Selected African and Latino enclaves
grow in Greensboro
• Other groups grow in other parts of
state- Triangle, Asheville, Charlotte
• Hmong in Hickory area make NC the 4th
largest Hmong state
• Ethnic and faith communities form
informal support systems
• Immigrants are recognized as key to
Greensboro and US economic booms
• Human service systems are unprepared
for cultural and linguistic issues
2008: Greensboro 200 Year
Bicentennial Celebration
• Over 60,000 people live in
immigrant families in Greensboro
• City is rich in new faith
communities-Christian, Muslim,
Buddhist, Hindu
• Mainstream churches and new faith
communities host newcomers
• New ethnic businesses, stores,
restaurants are abundant
• Greensboro has largest Montagnard
community in world outside Vietnam
• UNCG has become school of
choice for Hmong second
• A&T remains a magnet for people
from developing countries
• GTCC ESOL programs are
• Over 120 first languages are
represented in Guilford County
• Guilford County Schools creates a
Newcomer School for new arrivals
• Aftermath of 9-11 includes increased
• Economic downturn and political
scapegoating targets immigrants
• New restrictions threaten immigrant
families and economic development
• Historic desegregation and civil rights
issues have new shades of color
• Second generation of newcomers
bring new challenges and
• They want better jobs, better
• They will discard some cultural
traditions and preserve others
• Second generation is here to stay,
and likes calling Greensboro “home”
• The diversity of immigrant
communities is unique to
• Greensboro’s historic struggle with
human rights is also unique
• As we work to resolve our
disparities, embrace tolerance for
• We will emerge as a unique city in
our diversity and cultural richness

Slide 1