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


“Thriving in the Shadows: The Black Experience in Charlotte Mecklenburg,” is the best place to start exploring this city’s African American past.

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.

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




Women and Civil Rights:



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.


WTVI spotlights early Black business leader Thad Tate. Seen his statue on Little Sugar Creek Greenway?

What leaders shaped Charlotte coming out of slavery? Read Janette Greenwood’s 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.

He pushed for justice: Dr. Reginald Hawkins is remembered by one of Charlotte’s best writers today, Emiene Wright.

An historic photo from Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr‘s 1966 visit to Johnson C. Smith University embodies “an audacious faith in the future.”

Explore famed essayist James Baldwin’s connections to Charlotte – as spotlighted in the film “I Am Not Your Negro.” Washington Post  The New Yorker:

History-maker Charles Jones co-led Charlotte sit-ins, later jailed during Freedom Ride.

Nationally renowned Civil Rights lawyer Julius Chambers won key school & labor cases. His statue debuted on Little Sugar Creek Greenway in 2021:

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.

Meet Allegra Westbrooks, the trailblazing librarian for whom the Beatties Ford branch of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library is named.

Longtime Charlotte broadcaster Beatrice Thompson shares a profile of Charlotte history-maker Thereasea Elder, who led the integration of Charlotte’s public health department.

JCSU alum Jawn Ardin Sandifer became a top NAACP attorney and won the landmark Supreme Court case outlawing segregated railroad dining cars.

28 Charlotteans who are making history in our own time:


Plan a walk or a drive to explore #BlackHistoryCLT. Here’s a stroll in the neighborhood around Johnson C. Smith University.

Segregation did not always exist; It was invented. The Atlantic looks at Charlotte history: 

Impressive young reporter Niema Abdulahi looks back at Charlotte’s Brooklyn neighborhood.

Good Samaritan – the first privately funded hospital for African Americans in NC – stood where Panthers Stadium is now.

WTVI video offers a portrait of Historic West End neighborhoods:

  • 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:
  • JCSU archivist Brandon Lunsford has created this detailed interactive map of people and places around JCSU – oral histories, vintage photos, more!

Tough times for Excelsior Club, the historic landmark near Johnson C. Smith:

Here are updates on the ongoing work to save the Excelsior:  And

Further out Beatties Ford Road, explore the history of University Park, a neighborhood created for Black homeowners around West Charlotte High.

813 Black schools across North Carolina: legacy of Charlotte’s Dr. George E. Davis & Rosenwald Fund.

Discover the distinctive red-and-yellow brickwork of pioneering Black builder/architect W.W. Smith.  And his mentor, brickmaker William Houser:

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.

What was it like to grow up on the poor side of Charlotte back in the day? The book Money Rock gives one perspective.  

Here’s a look back at the deep history of Charlotte’s African American neighborhood of Cherry:

History and present challenges in Howie Acres, a Black neighborhood off Sugar Creek Road.

In Matthews, NC, the African American neighborhood of Crestdale inspired a recent museum exhibit.

Pam Kelley digs into the history – and issues today – in Smithville, the African American neighborhood on the edge of Cornelius.


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:

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.


Tommy Tomlinson profiles Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, one of four Black students to enter white schools in Charlotte, 1957.

One of the four originators of the Sit-In Movement in Greensboro was Franklin McCain, later a longtime Charlottean.

Discover Rock Hill’s BIG role in U.S. Sit-In Movement. Film by national award winning Steve Crump:

A year before 1964 Civil Rights Act, Reginald Hawkins won the end of segregation in Charlotte’s restaurants, movie theaters.

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.


Jimmie Kirkpatrick desegregated high school football in Charlotte. But could he play in the all-star Shrine Bowl? Impressive series by Charlotte Observer.

Remembering 1965 – houses of four Civil Rights leaders bombed in Charlotte.

Supreme Court’s Swann v Mecklenburg (1971) was THE national precedent for school-busing-for-racial-balance. Books explore history, future.  And


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.

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

Look back at nationally renowned artist Romare Bearden’s roots in Charlotte.  And a new biography.

Best known as Charlotte’s 1st black Mayor, Harvey Gantt created notable architecture.

The first funk record was made in Charlotte? Yes! Here’s the story of James Brown’s “Brand New Bag.”

Shout bands!  Amazing trombone praise bands, United House of Prayer.

The Golden Gate Quartet’s 1937-38 Charlotte recordings revolutionized gospel music – bringing in swing.

Wilbert Harrison came up in Charlotte’s Excelsior Club, made the first national hit record of now-classic “Kansas City.”  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.

Jazz violinist Stuff Smith became an international star in the swing era – after a student stint at JCSU.

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.  

One of the earliest Black women on radio anywhere in the U.S. — Charlotte’s own Chatty Hattie.

Spotlight on Beatrice Thompson, the first Black female TV anchor here, 1980. Longtime radio host at WBAV, 2000-2016.

Prince’s saxophonist Adrian Crutchfield grew up in Charlotte, lives here now!  

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.

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?).