A northeast Raleigh community center that holds events and serves as a base for social-justice campaigns is rebuilding after severe storms hit the area two weeks ago.
A 70-year-old oak tree landed on the Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center on Lake Ridge Drive, destroying the roof of the center’s 2,200-square-foot meeting room and letting rain pour onto electronic equipment. Repair costs are estimated at $200,000.
While the tree has been removed, but the roof is covered by a blue tarp and the meeting room is blocked off and unusable. The center hopes to be open in three months for its annual graduation pizza party for neighborhood seniors.
Calls and emails have poured in since the tree fell. Community members want to help rebuild.
“We don’t have any fancy insurance, just the bare minimum,” said the center’s co-director Angaza Laughinghouse.
Fruit of Labor opened in 1999 as a cultural center that serves as a hub for community conversations about social issues such as worker, immigrant and women’s rights. It’s also been a place for a variety of celebrations, such as graduation parties, Chinese New Year festivities and art gallery displays.
“This has always been a great center for everyday working people to come, convene, discuss their social-justice issues, listen to music and eat different foods,” Laughinghouse said.
He said the center provides workshops for immigrants and workers to help them know their rights and the resources available to them.
“You can see this is a very poor, working-class community,” Laughinghouse said. “People need hope. There can be no hope unless there is justice. If they are not talking about how they can get justice, then there is no way to move forward.”
The center is also home to the Fruit of Labor singing ensemble and the Hip Hop for Justice youth group. Both use song, poetry and dance to spread messages that address societal problems.
They have joined movements such as Black Lives Matter and the Fight for $15 to raise the minimum wage.
“With important elections coming up, ongoing concerns for community workers, African-Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, immigrants and other oppressed communities, the urgency to rebuild the center is more pressing than ever,” read a press release announcing the campaign to rebuild Fruit of Labor.
Knopf: 919-829-8955, @tayknopf
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Contact Fruit of Labor World Cultural Center