Peter H. Gilbert

  • Hosted by UNC Center for Civil Rights
  • Sponsored by Norflet Progress Fund
  • Service location Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • Law school University of North Carolina School of Law
  • Issue area Civil Rights/Civil Liberties, Environmental Justice, Housing - Affordable Housing/Microfinance
  • Fellowship class year 2012
  • Program Design Your Own Fellowship

The Project

Peter worked with low-income, excluded communities in North Carolina to prevent unjust and discriminatory actions by surrounding municipalities. He conducted a survey on the extend and manifestations of community exclusion in North Carolina to identify communities that could benefit from new water and sewer provisions in state annexation statutes.

The Inspiration

Need Addressed By Project

Community exclusion is the manifestation of structural racism at the neighborhood level. When municipalities incorporated under Jim Crow segregation, black neighborhoods were generally excluded from municipal boundaries. As a legacy of segregation, black communities continue to be excluded from the political and economic life of surrounding municipalities, even as towns have grown and annexed new territory. Residents of excluded communities have no voice in the municipal government. The lack of municipal services, combined with a lack of political power, results in ongoing underdevelopment. Long-term effects of exclusion include no access to infrastructure and municipal services, siting of environmental hazards in excluded communities, exclusion from school districts and assignment to the best schools, substandard housing, and civic and political isolation. In 2011 the North Carolina legislature enacted annexation reform, part of which requires municipalities to annex certain low-income communities that request it and to provide them with water and sewer service. Prior to Peter’s project, no systematic effort had been made to identify excluded communities believed to exist across North Carolina.

Fellowship Highlights

During his Fellowship, Peter:

  • Analyzed and documented the effects of community exclusion across North Carolina in a published report, “The State of Exclusion”
  • Created an interactive online resource mapping hyper-segregated communities (
  • Represented 21 clients from the Brandy Creek community in a settlement to recoup unlawfully collected property taxes
  • Raised awareness of unjust practices and effects on excluded communities through litigation, policy advocacy, education, and media coverage

Where are they now?

Peter assists excluded and other low-income communities on affordable housing issues as a Staff Attorney at Legal Aid of North Carolina

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Sponsor: Advocacy Center for Persons With Disabilities, Inc., The Florida Bar Foundation