Jesse Huddleston: Creating His Story
"Durham is beautiful to me because Durham is where I became me. Whole, human me."
“When I was 17, I left the home I knew. It was hard to take such a big step of faith to leave, but looking back, it felt worth it not just to go to Duke, but for my own growth and evolution. It took me a while to adjust to my own autonomy ... and I experienced real community here, grounded and rooted in historical context.
I think Durham aspires to make space for its parts to organically come together but it cannot be ahistorical; we have to tell the truth of what's happened and what's happening."
“This area, the West End, is where I lived, worked, and experienced community after graduating. There's so much history here — like that of Pauli Murray, who grew up here. Learning about queer, black hidden figures like Pauli was formative and affirming for me. It's given me ground to stand on and helped me find my path in community engagement and equity through the arts. This is who I am, this is where I'm placed, and this is how I move here. Durham is home.”
Jesse Huddleston was interviewed and photographed at the Pauli Murray house in Durham's West End neighborhood. He is a Duke alum and board member of the Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice.