African-American History

The film adaptation of Frank Yerby's 1946 best-selling novel, The Foxes of Harrow.

African-American literary authors like James Baldwin or Zora Neale Hurston are famous for their depictions of black life. But these novelists have also written books with white protagonists. Why is this unexpected? Is there a mandate that black authors write only about black characters?

The original deed book of slave records from Buncombe County.
Max Cooper, via

During the Great Depression, the New Deal funded a project to collect the narratives of former slaves.  Sarah Gudger came forward to give an account of her life as a slave in Buncombe County.  Her testimony was the same brutal story that is familiar to many of us.  She described a “hard life” of nothing but “work, work, work,” under the threat of abuse. 

Freedom Hill in Princeville, NC

Princeville, North Carolina is the first town created by African Americans in the United States. It was almost wiped out by Hurricane Floyd but survived. Now, it’s facing another threat.

Audits revealed that top-town officials may have been inappropriately using town dollars, and the state has taken over control of Princeville. Host Frank Stasio talks about the situation with Gurnal Scott, assistant news director at WUNC; and Rudolph Knight, a history columnist for The Daily Southerner in Tarboro.

  Taylor Branch's trilogy on Martin Luther King, Jr. -- "The King Years" -- is widely considered the seminal work on one of the 20th century's most important figures. But at 2,300 combined pages, the three volumes can be a bit daunting for even the most interested reader.

The origins of the Black Panther Party were as a group that wanted to provide self-defense and support to communities overlooked and abused by the authorities. American government and media portrayals dismissed the Panthers as thugs, but filmmaker Dante James wants to tell the true story of the revolutionary members of the radical organization.

Pauli Murray marker sits at Carroll and West Chapel Hill Streets in Durham.
Jeanette Stokes

An official state historic marker now sits in the West-End neighborhood of Durham celebrating the life of human rights leader Pauli Murray.

Black Soldiers In The Civil War

Jun 14, 2011

Visualize a Civil War soldier and a sepia colored picture of a white man likely comes to mind. But thousands of African Americans in North Carolina served in the Union Army during the Civil War. They trained in the town of New Bern after its fall in March 1962.

The owners of a historic house in eastern North Carolina are donating it for use as an African-American history museum. The Picot-Armistead-Pettiford House has stood in the small town of Plymouth for nearly 200 years. Local folklore links the house to the Underground Railroad before the Civil War despite Census data that shows the tenants were white and owned slaves. Willie Drye is the leader of a downtown development committee in Plymouth. He says free African-Americans bought the house at auction after the war.

Fifty years ago, on Feb. 1, four black college students sat down at a whites-only Woolworth's lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C. The "Greensboro Four," along with friends and supporters, returned to the counter every day for six months until the lunch counter was desegregated.

Their determination to resist Jim Crow laws inspired thousands of peaceful sit-ins and helped to end official segregation in the South. On Monday, in the same building that once housed the Woolworth's store, the International Civil Rights Center & Museum opens.

In the late 1800s, North Carolina's favorite mountain retreat was home to a progressive African-American community that founded the Young Men's Institute. It remains the country's oldest free-standing African-American community center.