Civil Rights

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.

Some historians refer to the Civil War as the “war between the states" – a white man’s war.  But to many people of color – it was the “war for freedom.” And during this mighty war, no other place in North Carolina had more “free” slaves than New Bern.

When the Union Army seized the city, word spread fast. Slaves travelled from across the state and outside its borders to get to New Bern.

Michael Gerhardt
law.unc.edu

The 14th Amendment may be the most hotly debated 2,000 words in American history. It was adopted on July 9, 1868 and is considered the most important of the “Reconstruction Amendments.” Those amendments - the 13th, 14th and 15th - reconfigure the relationship between the states and the federal government. Among other things, they put the federal government in the position of monitoring the way states protect civil rights.

history.unc.edu

Heather Williams experienced racism for the first time when she moved to Brooklyn from Jamaica at 11 years old. That’s when she discovered that black was considered bad in the United States, though she didn't know why. Her high school library’s Black Studies section began her education in racial history. Her fascination with the subject would lead her to one day become a civil rights lawyer, and later, a teacher of history.

A group of African American residents in Brunswick County have taken their claims of environmental injustice to court. 

The Royal Oak community has a history going back to slavery.  Today, there are about 300 African American residents living in this unincorporated section of Brunswick County.  But their community also houses a waste transfer station, a sewage treatment plant, the animal shelter and the county’s only landfill.  Lewis Dozier is president of the Royal Oak Concerned Citizens Association.

The childhood home of a renowned human rights leader is about to get a major face-lift in southwest Durham.

 Pauli Murray was an attorney, Civil Rights activist and the first African American female Episcopal priest.  The house her grandfather built in the 1890s sits way off Carroll Street in Durham’s West End. Sarah Bingham was one of several people to walk through the two-story house yesterday. She says it’s in pretty good shape.

Sarah Bingham:  "I see possibilities everywhere."

Inge:  "It looks kind of fragile though."

Attorneys with the UNC-Chapel Hill Law School’s Center for Civil Rights say the three separate school districts in Halifax County are inherently unequal. 

Civil rights and labor leader Margaret Turner has died. She was involved in numerous struggles for civil rights in Durham. Turner played an important role in turning people out to events and speaking up at work and in the community.

State Senator Floyd McKissick knew Turner and says she was one of the “unsung heroes” of the movement:

Writer Langston Hughes is famous for uplifting poems like "I, Too" and lyrical poetry like “A Dream Deferred,” but North Carolina State Assistant Professor of English Jason Miller says that hidden within Hughes' works are powerful statements about the practice of lynching. Host Frank Stasio talks to Miller about his new book, "Langston Hughes and American Lynching Culture” (University Press of Florida/2011).

Rockwell, `The Problem We All Live With,` 1963, oil on canvas, 36 x 58in., Illustration for Look, Jan. 14, 1964
Norman Rockwell Museum Collection, NRM. 1975.1, Licensed by Norman Rockwell Licensing, Niles, Ill.

American Chronicles – The Art of Norman Rockwell is currently on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art.  It has traveled the country since last Spring.  The exhibit includes some 40 original oil paintings – chronicling six decades of Rockwell’s work – and a complete set of more than 300 Saturday Evening Post covers.  Rockwell was meticulous in creating scenes of American life – whimsical and idyllic.  During the latter part of his life – he took his work out of New England and captured what was transforming the south – the Civil Rights movement.

Black farmers in North Carolina and across the country are celebrating the signing of a bill authorizing payments to settle a racial bias lawsuit.

For decades – African American farmers have complained to the government about discrimination from the United States Department of Agriculture – or USDA.  With the stroke of a pen – President Barack Obama signed the Claims Resolution Act of 2010 – freeing up 1.15-billion dollars in settlement money. 

Pages