“We Can Do Better,” Kingsboro documentary

About the Project:
“We Can Do Better” was the 1995-96 slogan used by the Citizens for Responsible Zoning during a public campaign that prevented Iowa Beef Processors, Inc., from installing a hog-processing plant in Kingsboro, a predominantly Black community between Rocky Mount and Tarboro. 

Programs were held April 22, 2023, in Tarboro and April 24, 2023, at ECU for public viewings of the film, community feedback and panel discussions. More photos from those events may be viewed here.

About the Documentary:
The documentary is supported by a 2022-23 Institute of Museum and Library Services-funded Library Services and Technology Act grant. Collaboration between ECU Special Collections, the Phoenix Historical Society and producer Frederick Murphy with A1 Day1 Productions in Charlotte led to the curation of the 34-minute film.

“We didn’t want it in our backyard. And if those people, those warriors, hadn’t stood together and spoke so forcefully, anything could’ve happened.” Katie Whitehead said after watching archival footage from the Citizens for Responsible Zoning Collection.

In September of 1995, Tarboro attorney Marvin V. Horton uncovered a plan of Iowa Beef Processors, Inc., (IBP), with support of Edgecombe County commissioners, to locate a giant hog slaughterhouse in the predominately Black community of Kingsboro in Edgecombe County. Concerned residents formed the Citizens for Responsible Zoning, chaired by Gleno Horne and the Kingsboro Property Owners Association that organized a mass effort to stop IBP.  Edgecombe commissioners voted to re-zone in favor of IBP.  But the community coalition persisted and finally forced the Edgecombe board to vote down the IBP bid on April 9, 1996.

Open access to the film is provided through the ECU Digital Collections website, along with historical documents related to the work of the Kingsboro community through ECU’s historical manuscript collections.

“This project gave us the opportunity to work with and benefit the community, while also providing an educational resource that may be used worldwide,” said Kelly Spring, grant primary investigator and Head of Manuscripts & Digital Curation for the ECU main campus library.

The Phoenix Historical Society: African American History of Edgecombe County (N.C.) was founded in 2001 to recover, record and promote the unique history of Edgecombe County as experienced by members of its African American community. This collection contains the society’s official records, brochures, event programs and publications related to research, community events and sponsored projects.

ECU Digital Collections is a unique resource for thousands of images, texts and recordings from the East Carolina University main campus library’s rich holdings. Collections support the research and teaching mission of ECU and preserve the cultural heritage of the eastern North Carolina community through digital initiatives, especially the creation of digital library materials and tools.

VIRTUAL SCREENING:  Watch the full documentary online!

Attendees watch “We can do Better” at Black Box Theater at the ECU Main Campus Student Center on April 24, 2023.


Upcoming and past community screenings of the documentary:



SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 17, 2024 | 2 pm | Oak Grove Retreat | 3244 McNair Rd | Tarboro, North Carolina

A screening will be held at Oak Grove Retreat of the documentary “We Can Do Better” about the 1995 fight to keep IBP from building a Hog Processing site in the Kingsboro community of Edgecombe County. Contact Kevin Wilson at st.annes.oakgrove@gmail.com for more information about this screening.


SATURDAY, OCTOBER 7, 2023 | 1:00pm | Willis Building | Greenville, North Carolina


In Collaboration with the TAR RIVER COMMUNITY SCIENCE FESTIVAL  water.ecu.edu/fest

Download the Festival Guide & Map
(English & Spanish versions below) 
Festival Schedule + Map English
Festival Schedule + Map Spanish

With questions or for more information about this event please visit www.water.edu.ecu or contact Grace Gavigan at gavigang19 @ecu.edu

ADA Accommodation: 252-737-1018 / ada-coordinator@ecu.edu



THURSDAY, OCTOBER 26, 2023 | 6:00-7:30 pm | PARK SHOPS 210 | Raleigh, North Carolina

Following the film there will be a panel discussion with members of the Citizens for Responsible Zoning: Melvin Ray Hart | Ruby B. Horne | David W. Batts, Sr. | Marvin V. Horton
Moderated by Dr. Ajamu Dillahunt-Holloway, assistant professor of History, and Jim Wrenn, historical consultant for “We Can do Better.”
We Can Do Better Screening Flyer – for this event can be downloaded here

NC State University

Sponsored by the N.C. State Department of History within the
College of Humanities and Social Sciences

With questions or for more information about this event please contact the Event Coordinator, Tammy Gordon, tsgordo2@ncsu.edu

In compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, NC State will honor requests for reasonable accommodations made by individuals with disabilities. Direct accommodation requests to:Tammy Gordon, tsgordo2@ncsu.edu



Greenville, North Carolina

 Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m.

Black Box Theater in

ECU Main Campus Student Center
 In collaboration with ECU Sustainability

Visit Pirate Experience Calendar-Sustain ECU




Additional Resources:

“We Can Do Better” – PDF Flyer – 8.5×11


For more information about this project please contact: Kelly Spring, Head of Manuscripts & Digital Curation, at springk18@ecu.edu