Civil Rights

Jack Moebes/Corbis

A Civil Rights pioneer has died. Franklin McCain was one of four teenagers who sat down at an all-white lunch counter in Greensboro on February 1, 1960.

"I certainly wasn't afraid. And I wasn't afraid because I was too angry to be afraid. If I were lucky I would be carted off to jail for a long, long time. And if I were not so lucky, then I would be going back to my campus, in a pine box." - Franklin McCain, interview on NPR

The freshmen from North Carolina A&T ignited a sit-in movement in the Jim Crow south that led to other key chapters in the Civil Rights era.

Derrick Ivey (Left) as C.P. Ellis and Lakeisha Coffery (Right) as Ann Atwater
manbitesdogtheater.org / Manbites Dog Theater

    

  In 1971, civil rights activist, Ann Atwater, and ku klux klan grand exalted cyclops, C.P. Ellis chaired a community meeting to handle violence in the recently desegregated Durham school system. And those meetings started a unexpected lifelong friendship between the two. A play by Mark St. Germain retells the story of this unlikely friendship in the play, Best of Enemies

mcsurely.com

  

Al McSurely has spent more than five decades fighting racism, poverty and discrimination.

In the 1960s, he was arrested for sedition in Kentucky and then for Contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents to the McClellan Committee. His experience in the legal system led him to start law school at the age of 48. McSurely worked for many civil rights clients, including a landmark case on behalf of UNC housekeepers.
 

UNC Press

  

The struggle for education equality in North Carolina was hard-fought for more than four decades.

It was not only a struggle for facilities that were equal to white schools, but a fight for integration and civic inclusion. Host Frank Stasio talks with Sarah Caroline Thuesen, author of “Greater Than Equal: African American Struggles for Schools and Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965,” and a professor of history at Guilford College.

The four girls killed in the bombing (Clockwise from top left, Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair)
http://www.flickr.com/photos/76587168@N06/ / flickr.com

  

On September 15th, 1963, the Ku Klux Klan bombed 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama. The explosion killed four little girls and injured 22 others. In the violent aftermath of the bombing, two little boys were murdered.

Fred Battle went to NC A & T in the 1960s and talks about his experience getting arrested for civil rights protests.
Alexander Stephens

Today in our “August 1963” series, we hear from Fred Battle. Battle was a football star for the Mighty Tigers of Chapel Hill’s Lincoln High School, before being awarded an athletic scholarship to North Carolina A&T in Greensboro. It was there that his participation in civil rights actions expanded.

My name is Fred Battle, and in August of 1963 I was entering into my sophomore year at North Carolina A&T State University. And we were up in the D.C. area where we were playing Quantico Marines in a football game.

Millie Dunn Veasey went to the March on Washington and was the first female president of the Raleigh-Wake NAACP.
Alexander Stephens

Our “August 1963” series continues today with Millie Dunn Veasey. Veasey is 95 years old—she was born in Raleigh in 1918. During World War II, she served overseas with the Women’s Army Corps. Veasey returned home to attend St. Augustine’s College, where she worked as executive secretary to President James Boyer. While there, she became active in the Raleigh civil rights movement, eventually serving as the first female president of the Raleigh-Wake NAACP.

Howard Clement is serving his 30th and final year as a councilmember this fall.
City of Durham

Today in our “August 1963” series looking back at North Carolina at the time of the March on Washington, we meet Howard Clement. Howard, as his friends say, is one of the few people in Durham everyone knows simply by his first name. He first moved to Durham in 1961, shortly after finishing law school, to work as an attorney for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.

March 1964: the Holy Week fasters. James Foushee is on the far right. Others, from L to R, are Patrick Cusick, LaVert Taylor and John Dunne.
Copyright Al Amon, From the John Ehle Papers (#4555), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Our series, “August 1963,” continues to look back at North Carolina at the time of the March on Washington. Today we hear from James Foushee. As a teenager in Chapel Hill, he emerged as one of the leaders of the local civil rights movement.

My name is James Foushee. August of 1963, the 28th day, I was at the March on Washington in Washington, D.C.

Carrie Farrington
Alexander Stephens

Today we begin our series, “August 1963,” a look at North Carolina at the time of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the march, and producer Alexander Stephens asked North Carolinians to think back to August of ‘63.

My name is Carrie Farrington. In August of 1963, I was a rising seventh grader at Chapel Hill Junior High School.

MLK
US Govt.

Busloads of people are headed to Washington, DC tomorrow to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, and North Carolina will be well represented.

Andrea Harris was 15 years old in 1963 when Martin Luther King Junior gave his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.”

“The Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity," King said 50 years ago.

“I didn’t go then so I have to go now," said Harris.

Harris heads the North Carolina Institute for Minority Economic Development in Durham.

Submitted by Mandy Carter / Bayard Rustin Commemorative Alliance

    

Five decades ago, more than 200,000 people from all over the country gathered on the National Mall to call for racial and economic equality. Next week, participants will once again gather in Washington to mark the anniversary of the March on Washington, a pivotal moment in American history.

Julius Chambers
Citizenplastic / commons.wikimedia.org

In 1948, William Chambers, a black maintenance worker in Montgomery County, NC was denied payment for a job by a white customer. William Chambers spent many afternoons searching for an attorney to represent him, but all the white lawyers he asked refused. William told this story to his son, Julius Chambers, who then vowed to become a lawyer and fight for justice.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter

Charlotte commemorated a civil rights heavy-weight Thursday.  Julius Chambers fought for equality through the courts and argued some of the cases that helped integrate Charlotte’s schools and businesses.

He had a lot of hatred directed at him as an African-American challenging prejudice, but he never let that make him bitter. Instead, Chambers set up North Carolina’s first law firm to employ both black and white lawyers, partly to serve as an example of the integration he fought for.  He died last week.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter

    

Julius Chambers has been a fixture on North Carolina’s legal scene for decades, helping lead the battle for civil rights and playing an instrumental role in the desegregation of Charlotte/Mecklenburg schools.

He died last Friday at 76.

Julius Chambers
Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter

Friends and the state's legal community are honoring the life of Julius Chambers who died last week.  He was 76 years old. 

Chambers was active in the 1960s Civil Rights movement, founding the law firm that became North Carolina's first integrated practice.  A statement from the Ferguson, Chambers and Sumter firm said Chambers argued eight cases before the U.S. Supreme Court and won all of them. 

Greenville Federal Courthouse
Eastern District of NC, US District Court

A federal judge will hear opening arguments today in a case that pits African-American parents against the Pitt County Schools. 

Pitt County, like many school districts in North Carolina, has a long history of segregation in its schools. About a dozen or so districts in the state are still under an active desegregation court-order, first issued in the 1960's, that requires them to be supervised by the federal courts.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum faces ongoing financial struggles, and the Greensboro mayor wants the city to take it over.
Jeff Tiberii

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum opened in Greensboro nearly three and a half years ago.  A national sit-in movement began on February 1st, 1960 at an F.W. Woolworth lunch counter on Elm Street, and today that site remains a commemoration and celebration of a chapter in American history.

Gene Kendall, Wilhelmina Reuben-Cooke and Nathaniel White Jr., the three surviving members of the first five undergraduate students to integrate Duke, attend their class reunion on April 21, 2012.
Duke University

Duke University celebrates 50 years of black students on Saturday, with an address by U.S. Senator William "Mo" Cowan.  The Massachusetts Democrat is a 1991 Duke graduate and one of two African-Americans currently in the U.S. Senate.

University of Georgia Press

  Medgar Evers’s assassination was a spark that motivated social activists and inspired writers, poets and journalists. Artists like Bob Dylan, Eudora Welty and James Baldwin have contributed to the collective memory of Evers through their own works.

Minrose Gwin, professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, talks to host Frank Stasio about her new book, “Remembering Medgar Evers” (University of Georgia Press/2013).

Left to right: David “Chip” Richmond (son of the late David L. Richmond), Franklin McCain Sr. '63, Jibreel Khazan '63 & Joseph A. McNeil '63, standing in front of the statue commemorating the A&T Four.
courtesy of North Carolina A&T State University RelationsA&T Four.

Four civil rights pioneers will be honored Friday in Greensboro on the 53rd anniversary of their famous sit-in. North Carolina State University A&T Freshman Joe McNeil, Ezell Blair Jr., Franklin McCain and David Richmond sat down at an all-white Woolworth’s lunch sparking a significant movement in the Jim Crow South.

What did Chapel Hill look like during the Civil Rights Movement? Photographer Jim Wallace captured images for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s student newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. But Wallace didn’t see fire hoses or police dogs turned on protesters.

Last month, a conference in Greensboro brought together more than 70 attorneys, activists and average citizens to talk about human and civil rights violations at the hands of law enforcement. Among the issues discussed were racial profiling, police brutality, mass incarceration, torture and rendition. The event was a call to action and the message was that every member of society is responsible for speaking out about abuses of state power.

The “Freedom Rallies” of 1963 were remembered and honored yesterday with a North Carolina Highway Historical Marker. 

The “Freedom Rallies” took place in the town of Williamston – in Martin County.  For 32 days – hundreds of mostly African Americans held mass meetings and marches, anchored at Green Memorial Church.  Diane Carr was 12-years-old during the “Freedom Rallies” and remembers singing and marching to the courthouse to demand equal rights.

The North Carolina Museum of History launched a new online exhibit today that takes a close-up look at the struggle for equal and civil rights across the state. 

As soon as you log onto the website – you are serenaded by Sam Cooke.  The name of the exhibit is “A Change is Gonna Come: Black, Indian and White Voices for Racial Equality.”  It covers the years 1830 to 1980 – from the Indian Removal Act to the rise and fall of Soul City.  Earl Ijames is the curator of the exhibit. He says it was going to be a physical exhibit before the 2008 recession.

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