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Sunday, July 24, 2022 Today's eEdition 74°F 95° 73° Local News Business Triangle Now Sports Living Jobs/Recruiting Personal Finance DURHAM COUNTY

Durham Housing Authority to name new building after former tenant it once evicted BY LAURA BRACHE UPDATED JULY 18, 2022 7:03 PM Play VideoDuration 1:59Durham

Housing Authority's newest building named after the first Black woman PA Joyce Nichols was a pioneering physician assistant and staunch affordable housing leader. Her oldest daughter Symetta Williams, 62, talks about her mother's accomplishments and having a new building named after her by the Durham Housing Authority. BY LAURA BRACHE DURHAM If there’s one thing Symetta Williams, 62, loves doing — it’s talking about her late mother. “I am the oldest daughter of Joyce Ann Clayton Thorpe Nichols,” Williams said during an interview with The News & Observer, raising her chin up high with pride. As a single mother of three, Nichols became the first woman formally trained to work as a physician assistant in the United States when she graduated from Duke University’s program in 1970. She was also the first Black woman to work as a PA. TOP VIDEOS Top Videos Monkeypox surge prompts growing demand for vaccine, testing in U.S. × But before that victory, Nichols struggled financially. She had to drop out of the North Carolina College for Negroes (now N.C. Central University) and live in public housing. Then the Durham Housing Authority, without an explanation, evicted her. Get unlimited digital access Subscribe now for just $2 for 2 months. CLAIM OFFER She sued the authority — her case eventually making it to the U.S. Supreme Court — and won. The decision paved the way for future protections for public housing tenants. She went on to become a commissioner for the housing authority and remained an ardent advocate in her community. Nearly 54 years since the Thorpe v. Housing Authority decision, and almost a decade after her death, the DHA is naming a new public housing building “The Joyce” after Nichols (the last name she went by most of her life). The building is slated to open next spring. “They named a building after my momma!” Williams said at the edge of her seat. “Something that’ll be here even when my kids are gone. ... My grandbabies!” Today’s top headlines Sign up for the Afternoon Update and get the day’s biggest stories in your inbox. SIGN UP This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

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