Annie Hargett

Interviewed by Andrea Wuerth on November 10, 2017
Annie Burnett Hargett is a Northside “legacy seller.” She was born in Chatham County, where the family owned a large piece of land but moved to Chapel Hill to find work at the university. She remembers growing up poor, but lacking nothing. She talks about black businesses, Northside school and Lincoln High, the families in the neighborhood and says she was taught to know her place. For this reason she feels she did not experience racism until she went to Memphis as a nanny for a local family. She was the first girl in her family to get a college education—a bachelor’s in nursing from Winston-Salem State and later, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. What followed was a successful career in nursing and teaching; after ten years in Baltimore, where she and her husband found work and her children were born, she returned to the area, taught at NCCU and later worked as a nursing supervisor at Duke.
She discusses the central role her father played in her life and how she followed his wishes and cared for her ailing mother after his death for ten years. She also discusses her struggle with depression, especially after her father’s death. Finally, she discusses her decision to sell the houses she inherited from her father to EmPOWERment and gave away most everything she earned from this. “I’ve always been a giver.” Her interview gives abundant evidence that she truly is.

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Title

Annie Hargett

Description

Annie Burnett Hargett is a Northside “legacy seller.” She was born in Chatham County, where the family owned a large piece of land but moved to Chapel Hill to find work at the university. She remembers growing up poor, but lacking nothing. She talks about black businesses, Northside school and Lincoln High, the families in the neighborhood and says she was taught to know her place. For this reason she feels she did not experience racism until she went to Memphis as a nanny for a local family. She was the first girl in her family to get a college education—a bachelor’s in nursing from Winston-Salem State and later, a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. What followed was a successful career in nursing and teaching; after ten years in Baltimore, where she and her husband found work and her children were born, she returned to the area, taught at NCCU and later worked as a nursing supervisor at Duke.
She discusses the central role her father played in her life and how she followed his wishes and cared for her ailing mother after his death for ten years. She also discusses her struggle with depression, especially after her father’s death. Finally, she discusses her decision to sell the houses she inherited from her father to EmPOWERment and gave away most everything she earned from this. “I’ve always been a giver.” Her interview gives abundant evidence that she truly is.

Subject

Hargett, Annie

Type

Oral History

Creator

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Publisher

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Date

2017-11-10

Contributor

Wuerth, Andrea

Rights

This material may be freely used for non-commercial purposes as long as this use complies with the terms and conditions of the Creative Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Format

MP3

Language

English

Identifier

LH_0141

Coverage

Chapel Hill, NC
Chatham County, NC

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Wuerth, Andrea

Interviewee

Hargett, Annie

Interview Processor

Wuerth, Andrea

Interview Date

2017-11-10

Location

Marian Cheek Jackson Center, Chapel Hill, NC

Transcription

[START 3:50]

            AH: My parents came to Chapel Hill very early so my daddy worked at the university. I mean, he went in service. He worked at Lenoir dining hall. He worked at the Carolina Inn. He worked in the University in janitorial services. And the last years of his working years after he retired, he was, we said, President Friday’s boy, that’s the way we put it.

             AW: Explain that, if you wouldn’t mind.

            AH: Okay, well. He worked for President Friday, like being his—what you want to say? He wasn’t a butler because he didn’t work in the house but he would get the mail and he would drive—

            AW: He was his personal assistant.

            AH: Personal assistant, yes. And we would say, “That’s President Friday’s boy.”

            AW: [laughs] How did they get to know each other? How did he get to know President Friday?

            AH: I guess because my father, I guess, worked down there at janitorial services, and actually right there at the bell tower, in that building across from the bell tower. And I guess because my father was just a supervisor, and I guess he just, you know, just did excellent work and stuff like that. And somehow his path crossed. And after he retired from there, he became, he started working for President Friday. And so when my father died in 2003, President Friday was at his service. People said, “You didn’t tell me y’all knew President Friday!” [laughs]

            AW: He was quite a man. What did you learn about him from your father and about their relationship?

            AH: It was a very close relationship, and he really admired my father very much. My father was just an awesome, awesome, awesome man in our lives, in my mother’s family’s lives. And when I say that it’s because all of her siblings depended on my father to get them through all of their things. And he was sort of like the businessman for all of them even the property that we sold to Empowerment, which is 221 North Graham Street, which is just across the street. My uncle Billy died—that’s my mother’s brother-- and he didn’t have a will and so all of the siblings ended up with a portion of that house. And uncle Billy somehow must have had Alzheimer’s. I was living in Baltimore—so I ramble, so don’t worry.

            AW: I love it.

[STOP  06:58]

 [START 11:40]                      

            AH: I mean, he was just a businessman and was able to put, with no money, because I didn’t make a lot of money but I had an excellent career in nursing and made way more money than him and never been able to manage anything—

            AW: The way that he did.

            AH: The way he did. Never. If I did, I wouldn’t have sold my houses but I just couldn’t handle it.

            AW: What was his secret? Did he have a lot of education?

            AH: No, no. My mother finished probably the ninth or the tenth grade, eleventh grade. But my dad didn’t have, probably eighth grade, something like that. He just knew that he came to Chapel Hill from Chatham County and everybody worked at the university and he was a barber, a real gentleman, and cut hair, everybody knew him and he just had the business acumen to--. It was just like a gift, I guess, God gave him.

            [STOP 13:02]

END OF PART ONE.

PART TWO

[START 02:38]

AH: It [her aunt Goldie’s house and numerous other family properties in Northside/Sunset] just ended up in my father’s hands. And I just feel so bad. They [MCJC] want to know why. Because he was able to maintain the houses. He didn’t have to use his money. I don’t know how he managed it. So when we rented out the house to one of his nephews and stuff because when they stopped renting the house, the house was in good shape but then it just started going down and down and down. And so that was the problem. He would never have wanted us to give up all the stuff that he worked so hard for. He was able to accumulate a lot. He really was. And I have not been a good steward of his stuff. [laughs]

[STOP 03:38]

PART THREE

[START 00:31:02

            AH: And I’ve been a giver all my life. So that’s why I ended up with depression after my dad died. He was just my rock. You saw him after mom died, and you saw me. I would come to Durham every Sunday and we’d go to church together. And everywhere he went, I went. And so that’s why he had my name as the executor of the estate. Because my sister did not find it expedient or helpful to come. She was too big in her social life, in this sorority, in this group, in this and in that, that she did not think it was needed to come. And she would probably come once a month, late Saturday and leave Sunday. So with the money that I got, I gave--. See, I don’t know why. I gave everybody money. Everybody. I gave her. I gave her son. I have my daughter. I gave my daughter. I gave my son. Larissa grew up with --. My dad and my mother took care of Larissa Farrington from two years on. I gave her money. I bought Reverend Harrison a van.

            AW: Unbelievable. And you say, you don’t know why, but--

            AH: But I’m broke today, see so. [laughs] That’s it. I’m broke. But with that money, then my son unfortunately was not able--. He went out to the University of Oklahoma, would not go to class. You know and so, he and his dad was not getting along. So I said, well, now I got money. I’m going to build a house. So I have a house out in Chatham that he lives in.

            AW: In Pittsboro now?

            AH: In Pittsboro.

            AW: And so your son came back--

            AH: From Oklahoma.

            AW: And moved in the house.

            AH: And so he’s in the house. And I’m still paying the mortgage. [laughs]

            AW: And how is he doing otherwise?

            AH: Oh, he’s doing wonderful! He has a marvelous job. I mean, he did not work for eleven years. Couldn’t get a job because he got in trouble with the law. Couldn’t get a job. Couldn’t get a job. Got two kids. Couldn’t get a job. Couldn’t get a job. Whew. And so every dime I had was trying to take care of him. My daughter had a child at sixteen. I raised that child, took care of him.

            AW: What’s his name?

            AH: Wesley, Wesley.

            AW: You’ve got a big grin on your face. [Both laugh.] Where is Wesley now?

            AH: Wesley is in Durham. He works for the department of social service.

            AW: Did your faith sustain you through those turbulent times?

            AH: I got very depressed after--. Well, actually, I started on medication after my mother died. And I really think that was because I had invested everything in taking care of my mom. And when I, I got hypertension. And so, when my dad died, it was just like, Oh, God. We were right down at the hospital. I just wanted to, I said, I just can’t go back to work. I just can’t do anything. This was June 2013, third Sunday in June. The male chorus sings. He is the president of the male chorus. He didn’t get up to sing. “Daddy what is wrong with you?” So I got up there, “Nothing, I’m okay.” So we come home. It was like father’s day. So I had fixed the food. I cooked for everybody, my sister and everybody. We ate. I gave daddy my work number. I gave him the wrong number. I don’t understand why I gave him the wrong number. And on this Tuesday, my husband called me and said, “Your dad is trying to get in touch with you.” He had never called me at my job. So I called Larissa who was working at the dental school. I said, “Larissa, you have to go to the house to see about dad because he called me so something is not right.” And I need to get there but I’m leaving now. But you are closer. When we got there dad said he was having chest pains, and so we took him to the emergency room, stayed in that emergency room probably sixteen hours. And then after they did the cardiac cath on Wednesday, he started bleeding and he had a massive heart attack and was dead. Two days later.

             AW: How old—

            AH: He was eighty-eight. Dead. And so after that my world collapsed. I went to the doctor and said, I can’t. I just don’t – I mean, I would say, the racism at Duke was so rampant. I wasn’t there when it was segregated like UNC, I was not there. But it was a plantation. That’s what it was. And that’s what it still is today. Even though I had very good people that supported me. Dr. Ron Tasker was the medical director (  ) in charge of the psych floor that I was the head nurse. I was able to coauthor many articles because of him. I mean, it was just wonderful. I was able to go to Boston to meet with John Gunderson who was the author on borderline personality disorder --

            AW: Oh, yeah, yeah.

            AH: At Mass General. Did this reliability and validity thing in terms of being able to interview people and to decide whether they had the disorder. He did this with Dr. Tasker and Dr. Schwarz and myself. I’m a black woman and I’m here with these two doctors.

            AW: Unbelievable.

            AH: I had a wonderful career.

            AW: Unbelievable.

            AH: Nursing served me very well. I have no—

            AW: But you gave your life to it.

 

            AH: Yes, I mean, and financially aside (  ). Anyway, in terms of being able to say, if I am going to do a job, it’s going to be done well or else I’m not doing it. That’s the way I was in church. That’s the way my dad was. He was the chairman of the steward board for twenty-five years. I mean, no, he didn’t have a college education. No, he didn’t finish high school. But he was a businessman and he knew how—

            AW: Character.

            AH: Character. Man of integrity.

            AW: Amen to that.

            AH: So, that I mean, from 603 we moved to 228 N. Graham Street. So when my dad died, we had 601; 602—I mean, 603; 221 where we had eight-tenths of that house at 221; plus 228. That’s how my dad had amassed that amount of property.

Collection

Citation

Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Annie Hargett,” Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust, accessed May 20, 2019, https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/LH/LH_0141.

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Annie Hargett lived in Northside throughout her youth. She attended Northside Elementary and was part of one of the first classes to attend Lincoln High (class of 1957). Her parents moved from Chatham County to Northside in Chapel Hill, first to Craig Street, then to N. Graham. She left Northside when she went to…