Railroad tracks cut straight through the city of Rocky Mount, N.C., literally slicing Main Street in half. The tracks are a boundary, created in 1871, between Edgecombe County on the east side and Nash County on the west.
Today, the people of Rocky Mount, which is 58 miles east of Raleigh, N.C., are working to boost opportunities and equity in all parts of town, east and west. The goal: To make the railroad tracks feel more like “a zipper pulling both counties together” instead of a dividing line, said Ron Green, chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Club of the Tar River Region.
Leaders of all ages have started on a journey to reverse generations of disinvestment and structural racism that have led to a persistently high poverty rate in Edgecombe County, while Nash County has prospered. They are addressing key drivers of health by expanding economic opportunity, building community wealth, and increasing access to affordable housing.