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Posts Tagged ‘civil rights’

The “Greensboro Four” at Woolworth’s. Photo from the (Greensboro) News & Record.

Fifty-six years ago today four students, now known as the “Greensboro Four,” sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s Department Store in downtown Greensboro and asked to be served. They were refused service, launching a sit-in movement that would spread throughout North Carolina and the South and transform the struggle for civil rights for African Americans.

The first page of a March 1960 memo describing Hodges' constitutional authority in law enforcement.

The first page of March 1960 memo describing Hodges’ constitutional authority in law enforcement.

Several documents available online through the North Carolina Digital Collections show how North Carolina Governor Luther Hodges and other state officials responded to the situation and demonstrate how public opinion was divided over the protests.

The Response from State Officials

The first—a public statement made by state attorney general Malcom B. Seawell on February 10, 1960—argues that though North Carolina did not have a law mandating the segregation of restaurants, businesses could refuse to serve whoever they choose.

Seawell calls the protesters as out-of-state “trouble-makers” and describes their actions as having:

posed and continue to pose a serious threat to the peace and good order in the communities in which they occur…Such trouble-makers are irresponsible, and their actions can only result in irreparable harm being done to racial relations here in North Carolina.

He also argues that the colleges which student protesters attend should work to curb their student actions, a sentiment Hodges later echoed in a phone conversation with a Woolworth’s executive.

Two memos—one laying out the governor’s constitutional authority to deal with the sit-in demonstrations and another describing the actions of governors in other states in similar situations—were immediately followed by a statement Hodges made on March 10 where he expressed his view on the sit-ins, saying:

…I do not think these demonstrations do any good or in the final analysis will even serve to accomplish the objectives of the demonstrators….I have no sympathy whatsoever for any group of people who deliberately engage in activities which any reasonable person can see will result in a breakdown of law and order as well as interference with the normal and proper operation of a private business.

A letter to Gov. Luther Hodges opposing the sit-in protesters.

A letter to Gov. Luther Hodges opposing the sit-in protesters.

The Public’s View

Four letters sent to Hodges’ office on the sit-ins reflect how divided the state’s citizens were on the issue.

A Burlington couple called on Hodges to close N.C. A&T and save what they viewed as wasted taxpayer money, while a Durham woman wrote that the demonstrations were “disgusting” and said that many of the protesters were “from the North.”

On the other side of the debate, a UNC-Chapel Hill student penned a note to express solidarity with the sit-in demonstrators and an ECU student rebuked the governor for not promoting freedom and free expression for all.

More to Explore

The papers described here are part of a larger Civil Rights digital collection that helps tell the story of the struggle for justice in North Carolina. An online exhibit from the N.C. Museum of History tells that story in another way.

A succinct overview of the Civil Rights movement can be found as NCpedia as can dozens of other in-depth articles on the subject.

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A look at the science of pirates in Greenville, re-enactments commemorating the largest surrender of the Civil War in Durham and an afternoon of living history activities near Sanford are just of the few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend across North Carolina.

Here are 11 suggestions to help you make the most of your limited time:

1. Touch a cannon that was once mounted on Blackbeard’s flagship and learn about the science of pirates Saturday at the Queen Anne’s Revenge Conservation Lab in Greenville.

 

 

2. Commemorate the 150th anniversary of the largest troop surrender of the Civil War throughout the weekend at Bennett Place in Durham.

 

 

3. Celebrate the culture of southern Appalachia Saturday at the Mountain Gateway Museum’s Pioneer Day in Old Fort, featuring craft demonstrations, music, food and Civil War re-enactors.

 

 

4. Spend your Saturday afternoon at “Retreat,” now known as House in the Horseshoe near Sanford, and experience artillery and musket firings, pottery making and 18th century toys and games.

 

 

5. Hear some of the state and county’s best musical acts perform “traditional plus” music throughout the weekend at MerleFest in Wilkesboro.

 

 

6. Honor the anniversary of George Washington’s visit to Tryon Palace with a colonial ball,dinner with President Washington and other activities throughout the weekend in New Bern.

 

 

7. See groundbreaking new films selected as noteworthy by the RiverRun International Film Festival throughout the weekend at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA) in Winston-Salem.

 

 

8. Check out Zoosphere, a new exhibition at the N.C. Museum of Art that explores humans’ effect on the environment through video, when it opens Saturday in Raleigh.

 

 

9. Kayak through local history Saturday with the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort.

 

 

10. Join the Charlotte Hawkins Brown Museum in Sedalia Saturday for a community discussion of the connections between Dr. Brown’s work and the Freedom Riders.

 

 

11. Enjoy the moving sound of Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring” and other American masterworks as performed by the N.C. Symphony throughout the weekend in Chapel Hill and Raleigh.

 

 

Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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February is Black History Month, and there’s so much to do across the Tar Heel State to celebrate. Here are eight things we have on our bucket list this month that you should try, too:

1. Step back in time to and “meet” a few members of North Carolina’s 1868 first black caucus at the State Capitol in Raleigh.

 

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2. Discover North Carolina’s rich African American music tradition with the African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina.

 

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3. Browse through the hundreds of photographs, bible records, genealogies, legal documents and other primary materials related to African American life and civil rights available online through the North Carolina Digital Collections.

 

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4. Visit one of the several state historic sites that have strong African American stories to tell.

 

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5. Explore the work of Minnie Evans, Romare Bearden and other noted African American artists at the N.C. Museum of Art.

 

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6. Take a tour of Historic Edenton as seen through the eyes of well-known abolitionist and author Harriet Jacobs.

 

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7. Get a broad overview or dive deep into a specific topic of African American history in North Carolina with a book from North Carolina Historical Publications.

 

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8. Discover the stories of your African American ancestors with an index of online resources and workshop offered by the State Library.

 

 

Be sure and check out the Black History Month page on our website for more great resources and events related to Black History Month.

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A concert of the best local music in Winston-Salem, the opening of an expanded Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit in Beaufort and a Dutch-inspired tour and art session in Raleigh are just a few of the opportunities for fun and discovery you’ll find this weekend with the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.
Here are seven suggestions to help you make the most of your time:
1. Hear some of the best local music in Winston-Salem Saturday when the Triad Music Festival’s main stage comes to the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (SECCA).

2. Discover newly-restored artifacts recovered from Blackbeard’s flagship when the N.C. Maritime Museum in Beaufort opens an expanded Queen Anne’s Revenge exhibit Saturday.

3. Take a journey through our nation’s civil rights history in song and stories Friday andSaturday at Tryon Palace in New Bern.

4. Enjoy performances of Dvořák’s “New World Symphony” in Southern Pines on Thursday, Raleigh on Friday and Saturday, and Wilmington on Sunday.

5. Check out (and participate in) the new Collective Actions exhibition at SECCA in Winston-Salem throughout the weekend.

6. See works by the Dutch masters in N.C. Museum of Art’s collection in Raleigh Saturday and then create your own art inspired by the tour.

Check out DCR’s calendar for more information on these and other events, and a enjoy a great North Carolina weekend!

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As we pause today to remember the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the civil rights movement he helped lead, we wanted to highight a few items from our collections that showcase some of the connections King had a to Tar Heel State.

1.  A color comic book that tells the story of King and his work in Montgomery, Ala., now part of the N.C. Museum of History’s collection

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2. A 1962 telegram from King to then Gov. Terry Sanford requesting help in getting prisoners in Edenton released, now part of the State Archives’ collection

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3. A photo of King giving a speech at N.C. Central University in Durham in 1966, now part of the State Archives’ collection

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4. A button advertising King’s July 1966 speech at Reynolds Coliseum in Raleigh, now part of the N.C. Museum of History’s collection

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5. A photo of King at a rally in Durham in 1958, now part of the State Archives’ collection

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6. A 1962 memo from a senior member of the State Highway Patrol to Terry Sanford detailing King’s recent visit to North Carolina and the police protection he received, now in the collection of the State Archives

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Other resources related to King and North Carolina’s rich civil rights heritage that are worth checking out include:

1.  The story of King “rehearsing” his “I Have A Dream” speech at a Rocky Mount church and other civil rights-related posts on our This Day in N.C. History blog

2. A Change is Gonna Come, an online exhibit on civil rights from the N.C. Museum of History

3. The Virtual MLK Project from N.C. State University

Check out the North Carolina Digital Collections and our online collections database to discover more primary materials from North Carolina’s past.

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Civil rights protesters march down a Raleigh street in 1963. This image was taken by the New & Observer and is part of the Civil Rights

Civil rights protesters march down a Raleigh street in 1963.
This image was taken by the New & Observer and is part of
the Civil Rights Movement Collection

As Black History Month winds down, the State Archives of North Carolina has two great new resources related to African American history that you won’t want to miss.

  • The African American Education Collection of the Archives’ digital collections has actually been around for a while, but what’s new are a whole host of materials related to Rosenwald Schools. The Rosenwald rural school building program was a major effort to improve the quality of public education for African Americans in the early 20th century South. You can learn more about the movement here and see those cool new resources here.
  • The Archives’ Civil Rights Movement Collection is totally new. This group of materials includes letters, speeches, reports, booklets, photographs, news clippings and more related to a number of topics associated with the Civil Rights movement in North Carolina 1950s to the 1970s. Though the emphasis is on state agency records, there’s much be discovered and you can start taking a look around here.

If this is your first exposure to the North Carolina Digital Collections, a joint project of the State Archives and State Library, don’t let it be your last. The collections house an endless amount of cool stuff from our state’s past from audio recordings of the General Assembly’s debates on the Speak Ban Law to letters from the Civil War.

You can browse all of the digital collections here.

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A desegregated bus after the Swann decision. Image from The Economist

A desegregated bus after the Swann decision. Image from The Economist

All this month we’re bringing you stories from North Carolina’s black history. Check back here each week day for a new tidbit from our state’s African American’s past.

In 1965, attorney Julius L. Chambers filed suit on behalf of ten pairs of African American parents. The suit—Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education –contended that the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education’s assignment plan did not sufficiently eliminate the inequalities of the formerly segregated system.

Though the board tried to redo the assignment plan and the district appeared desegregated, the plaintiffs argued decades of discrimination could only be undone through extensive busing. Federal district court judge James B. McMillan agreed.

Disagreements between the board and McMillan on the specifics of the plan landed the case in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, which reaffirmed McMillian’s decision with qualifications.

The school board and plaintiffs appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, which unanimously reaffirmed the ruling in April 1971. The case remained unresolved until July 1975, when McMillan was satisfied that the burden of busing was equally shared between blacks and whites.

Though initially quite divisive in the community, many Mecklenburg residents eventually began to take pride in their new schools, and some observers have linked the city’s growth and prosperity in the 1980s to the school board’s continued commitment to full integration.

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