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#BlackHistoryCLT
#BlackHistoryCLT

The Charlotte area is rich in African American history. Here are some internet resources we posted to Twitter and Facebook during Black History Month.

Overviews

“Thriving in the Shadows: The Black Experience in Charlotte Mecklenburg,” is the best place to start exploring this city’s African American past. https://pages.uncc.edu/mark-west/blog/2021/02/08/fannie-flono-award-winning-journalist-turned-historian-of-the-black-experience-in-charlotte/

Big website created by a youth-led team lays out Charlotte’s Black educational history – in context of the city’s general development 1920 – 2020. https://www.blackeducationclt.com/era-1-1920-1945?fbclid=IwAR1yjWULGbjlGNSzuN0sCit_eZjtWkkG-pcBtIFUBu9UEWAG9dtR4kc6lVQ

Queen City Nerve’s series tracing the African American freedom struggle in Charlotte:

PART 1 – AFTER RECONSTRUCTION

https://qcnerve.com/the-black-history-of-charlotte-part-1/

PART 2 – BROOKLYN: CITY-WITHIN-THE-CITY: https://qcnerve.com/black-history-of-charlotte-part-2-the-building-of-brooklyn/

PART 3 – INVENTING THE CIVIL RIGHTS MOVEMENT https://qcnerve.com/black-history-of-charlotte-part-3-civil-rights-in-the-new-south/

Women and Civil Rights: https://qcnerve.com/the-black-history-of-charlotte-women-of-the-charlotte-sit-ins/

PART 4 – TRAGEDY OF ‘URBAN RENEWAL  https://qcnerve.com/black-history-of-charlotte-urban-renewal-development/

PART 5 – BATTLES OVER DESEGREGATION  https://qcnerve.com/desegregation-in-charlotte/

Dr. Pamela Grundy and Dr. Willie Griffin discuss the ups and downs of writing Black history in a city that often seems to undervalue ALL history.

https://qcnerve.com/nooze-hounds-dr-willie-griffin-and-dr-pamela-grundy-on-black-history-in-charlotte/

Leaders

WTVI spotlights early Black business leader Thad Tate. Seen his statue on Little Sugar Creek Greenway?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gUUR2bs2VT8

What leaders shaped Charlotte coming out of slavery? Read Janette Greenwood’s Bittersweet Legacy. https://uncpress.org/book/9780807849569/bittersweet-legacy/

Levine Museum of the New South historian Dr. Will Griffin is writing a book about the remarkable Civil Rights activist Trezzvant Anderson, active in Charlotte and nationally during the 1940s – 1950s. https://www.charlottemagazine.com/how-a-local-historian-uncovered-trezzvant-anderson-the-charlotte-civil-rights-hero-youve-never-heard-of/

He pushed for justice: Dr. Reginald Hawkins is remembered by one of Charlotte’s best writers today, Emiene Wright. https://clclt.com/charlotte/the-militant-dentist-dr-reginald-hawkins/Content?oid=3003665

An historic photo from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr‘s 1966 visit to Johnson C. Smith University embodies “an audacious faith in the future.” https://qcnerve.com/martin-luther-king-in-charlotte/

Explore famed essayist James Baldwin’s connections to Charlotte – as spotlighted in the film “I Am Not Your Negro.” Washington Posthttps://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2017/02/24/reading-james-baldwin-on-a-segregated-southern-construction-site/  The New Yorker: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2017/02/13/capturing-james-baldwins-legacy-onscreen

History-maker Charles Jones co-led Charlotte sit-ins, later jailed during Freedom Ride. https://www.charlottemagazine.com/stumbling-across-a-hero/

Nationally renowned Civil Rights lawyer Julius Chambers won key school & labor cases. His statue debuted on Little Sugar Creek Greenway in 2021: https://qcitymetro.com/2021/11/01/statue-honoring-julius-chambers-unveiled-on-charlottes-trail-of-history/

Mel Watt, a partner in Chambers’ law firm, went on to a career in the U.S. House of Representatives, then headed the nation’s Housing Finance Agency. https://www.npr.org/2013/12/13/250656141/n-c-rep-mel-watt-confirmed-as-fannie-freddie-regulator

Meet Allegra Westbrooks, the trailblazing librarian for whom the Beatties Ford branch of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is named. https://www.cmlibrary.org/blog/pioneering-woman-history-allegra-westbrooks?

Longtime Charlotte broadcaster Beatrice Thompson shares a profile of Charlotte history-maker Thereasea Elder, who led the integration of Charlotte’s public health department.  https://www.facebook.com/wtvipbsclt/videos/thereasea-delerine-td-elder/999503090579242/?__so__=permalink&__rv__=related_videos

JCSU alum Jawn Ardin Sandifer became a top NAACP attorney and won the landmark Supreme Court case outlawing segregated railroad dining cars. https://www.facebook.com/photo?fbid=10159680043230450&set=a.10150796495300450

28 Charlotteans who are making history in our own time: https://qcitymetro.com/2021/02/22/the-great-28-black-charlotteans-who-are-shaping-charlotte/

Places

Plan a walk or a drive to explore #BlackHistoryCLT. Here’s a stroll in the neighborhood around Johnson C. Smith University. https://www.historysouth.org/west-end-tour/

Segregation did not always exist; It was invented. The Atlantic looks at Charlotte history: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2017/02/segregation-invented/517158/ 

Impressive young reporter Niema Abdulahi looks back at Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYef6WqqgiY

Good Samaritan – the first privately funded hospital for African Americans in NC – stood where Panthers Stadium is now. http://landmarkscommission.org/2016/11/09/old-good-samaritan-hospital/

WTVI video offers a portrait of Historic West End neighborhoods: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AX-IpD_0So

  • Here’s a historical essay about Historic West End and vicinity – West Trade Street, Beatties Ford Road — written for the book Let There Be Light published by JCSU: https://www.historysouth.org/jcsu/
  • JCSU archivist Brandon Lunsford has created this detailed interactive map of people and places around JCSU – oral histories, vintage photos, more! https://www.westendcharlotte.org

Tough times for Excelsior Club, the historic landmark near Johnson C. Smith:http://landmarkscommission.org/2019/05/30/excelsior-club-included-in-national-trusts-11-most-endangered-historic-places-of-2019/

Here are updates on the ongoing work to save the Excelsior: https://www.thecharlottepost.com/news/2020/08/26/local-state/darrel-williams-task-build-the-excelsior-club-s-future-nod-to-past/  And https://qcitymetro.com/2021/05/16/developer-outlines-vision-for-new-excelsior-club/

Further out Beatties Ford Road, explore the history of University Park, a neighborhood created for Black homeowners around West Charlotte High. http://landmarkscommission.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/University-Park-Historical-Essay-EAS-edit-2.0.pdf

813 Black schools across North Carolina: legacy of Charlotte’s Dr. George E. Davis & Rosenwald Fund. https://www.historysouth.org/rosenwaldhome/

Discover the distinctive red-and-yellow brickwork of pioneering Black builder/architect W.W. Smith. https://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000291  And his mentor, brickmaker William Houser: https://ncarchitects.lib.ncsu.edu/people/P000611

Civil Rights attorney Julius Chambers and partners developed this mid-century modern office tower on McDowell Street — a rare achievement nationally in the 1970s. It’d be great to see it designated as an official historic landmark. https://www.charlottemagazine.com/building-history-walton-plaza-in-uptown/

What was it like to grow up on the poor side of Charlotte back in the day? The book Money Rock gives one perspective. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/arts-culture/article218660215.html  

Here’s a look back at the deep history of Charlotte’s African American neighborhood of Cherry: https://www.historysouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/07/THE-CHERRY-NEIGHBORHOOD.pdf

History and present challenges in Howie Acres, a Black neighborhood off Sugar Creek Road. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/business/development/article245655560.html

In Matthews, NC, the African American neighborhood of Crestdale inspired a recent museum exhibit. http://www.pridemagazineonline.com/matthews-heritage-museum-project-researches-tank-town/

Pam Kelley digs into the history – and issues today – in Smithville, the African American neighborhood on the edge of Cornelius. https://www.wfae.org/local-news/2019-02-24/finding-home-the-fight-to-save-smithville

Battles

One of the nation’s earliest successful sit-ins, 1954! Four Charlotte activists led by Dr. Reginald Hawkins and Attorney Thomas Wyche sat in at Charlotte’s airport restaurant, made national headlines: http://barryyeoman.com/2004/05/taste-for-tolerance-charlotte/

Here’s more on history-making Charlotte attorney Thomas Wyche – part of remarkable group of Howard U students who invented the sit-in strategy in the late 1940s.

https://mccrorey.historysouth.org/1635-oaklawn-avenue/

 

Tommy Tomlinson profiles Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, one of four Black students to enter white schools in Charlotte, 1957. http://tommytomlinson.com/a-picture-speaks/

One of the four originators of the Sit-In Movement in Greensboro was Franklin McCain, later a longtime Charlottean. https://greensboro.com/news/four-greensboro-students-sat-down-years-ago-today-to-stand/article_9460a984-7828-520d-b9aa-27b5b75eb77a.html

Discover Rock Hill’s BIG role in U.S. Sit-In Movement. Film by national award winning Steve Crump: https://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/tv/media-scene-blog/article130326949.html

A year before 1964 Civil Rights Act, Reginald Hawkins won the end of segregation in Charlotte’s restaurants, movie theaters. https://clclt.com/charlotte/the-militant-dentist-dr-reginald-hawkins/Content?oid=3003665

Way back in 1951 – long before Rosa Parks and MLK made national headlines – a group of Charlotte’s Black professionals sued to integrate the public golf course in Revolution Park.  https://704shop.com/blogs/fact-friday/fact-friday-199-charlottes-golf-integration-history

 

Jimmie Kirkpatrick desegregated high school football in Charlotte. But could he play in the all-star Shrine Bowl? Impressive series by Charlotte Observer. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/special-reports/myers-park/article9087014.html

Remembering 1965 – houses of four Civil Rights leaders bombed in Charlotte. https://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/politics-government/article45744905.html

Supreme Court’s Swann v Mecklenburg (1971) was THE national precedent for school-busing-for-racial-balance. Books explore history, future. https://www.amazon.com/Dream-Long-Deferred-Desegregation-Charlotte/dp/1570036454  And https://www.researchgate.net/publication/298426147_Review_of_Yesterday_Today_and_Tomorrow_School_Desegregation_and_Resegregation_in_Charlotte

 

UNC Charlotte faculty and students – including future national NAACP chief Ben Chavis – won the creation of the Black Student Union in 1969, an important part of the growth of Black Studies in American colleges and universities. https://inside.uncc.edu/news-features/2021-02-23/uplifting-uniting-and-empowering-black-community-unc-charlotte-origins-and?

Art, Music, Culture and the Media

Food is culture, food is history! Emiene Wright’s multi-part series for CharlotteFIVE explores the Charlotte-area’s African and African American culinary scene

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125314.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125669.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125574.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125369.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251126134.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125969.html

https://www.charlotteobserver.com/charlottefive/c5-food-drink/article251125754.html

Look back at nationally renowned artist Romare Bearden’s roots in Charlotte. https://www.charlottemagazine.com/remembering-romare-bearden/  And a new biography. https://www.amazon.com/American-Odyssey-Life-Romare-Bearden/dp/0195059093/

Best known as Charlotte’s 1st black Mayor, Harvey Gantt created notable architecture. https://www.ncmodernist.org/gantt.htm

The first funk record was made in Charlotte? Yes! Here’s the story of James Brown’s “Brand New Bag.”  https://1965book.com/2018/06/24/february-1-james-brown-invents-funk-with-papas-got-a-brand-new-bag/

Shout bands!  Amazing trombone praise bands, United House of Prayer.  https://www.historysouth.org/shout/

The Golden Gate Quartet’s 1937-38 Charlotte recordings revolutionized gospel music – bringing in swing.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golden_Gate_Quartet

Wilbert Harrison came up in Charlotte’s Excelsior Club, made the first national hit record of now-classic “Kansas City.”  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfTRUP_4p7c  Was part of one of the leading music families in CLT’s United House of Prayer for All People. His much younger brother Zeb still heads a trombone praise band. Wilbert Harrison is buried in Charlotte’s Pinewood Cemetery. https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/7322446/wilbert-harrison

Jazz violinist Stuff Smith became an international star in the swing era – after a student stint at JCSU. https://qcnerve.com/stuff-smith-is-a-forgotten-legend-who-began-in-charlotte/

Have you discovered James Peeler’s marvelous photos of Charlotte’s west side in the 1950s – 1970s? Businesses, church life, bands, much more. – lovingly preserved at Johnson C. Smith University’s library. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TM3wFKowkDc&fbclid=IwAR03E2oUHbq8ldHn4Tvi7RiEyfTeKEMLYUNOb-_5jkp4Ck6WqQ1hE3VWpjk  

One of the earliest Black women on radio anywhere in the U.S. — Charlotte’s own Chatty Hattie. https://www.wccbcharlotte.com/2021/02/19/black-history-month-profile-chatty-hattie/

Spotlight on Beatrice Thompson, the first Black female TV anchor here, 1980. Longtime radio host at WBAV, 2000-2016.  https://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/tv/media-scene-blog/article55487115.html

Prince’s saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield grew up in Charlotte, lives here now!  https://www.charlotteobserver.com/entertainment/music-news-reviews/article134202669.html  

New children’s book on nationally renowned Durham-based architect Phil Freelon, who designed Charlotte’s Harvey B. Gantt Center for African Americans Arts + Culture. https://www.regulatorbookshop.com/book/9781620149553

Charlotte author Alicia D. Williams has a new children’s book out about folklorist/anthropologist/cultural activist Zora Neale Hurston (have you found the street off Freedom Drive that honors Hurston?). https://pages.uncc.edu/mark-west/blog/2021/02/22/alicia-d-williams-tells-the-story-of-zora-neale-hurston/