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Celebrating African American History Month: new @NCpedia exploring history and lives at the local level

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Historian, cultural thinker, and author Joseph Amato wrote in his 2002 book Rethinking Home: A Case for Writing Local History that “All history is local.”

Countering a view of local history as “the stepchild” of the history profession, in the book Amato argues for an approach to uncovering and exploring history that digs deeply and unceasingly into history at the local level.  By unearthing and sharing the vast range of regional and local history, new understandings develop and voice is given to versions of history that expose new historical themes or may go against common understandings of national and global themes.  At the same time, researching and writing about local history can also help illuminate and support understandings of broader established historical themes.

Photograph of H.B. Sugg and Aurelia Sugg [date unknown]. From the collection of Eulalia Williams. Used by permission.

Photograph of H.B. Sugg and Aurelia Sugg [date unknown]. From the collection of Eulalia Williams. Used by permission.

This week we are sharing local history for African American History Month.  And we are also celebrating historians and researchers who are passionate about ensuring that these important local histories are told.

A BIG thank you to two of NCpedia’s newest contributors:  Steven Hill, a high school history teacher and local historian from Pitt County, and Sarah Carrier, the North Carolina Research & Instructional Librarian at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Without their efforts — and the efforts of many, many local historians — so many North Carolina lives and stories would still be left in darkness. Thank you!

Please check out recent additions to NCpedia that illuminate the lives, events, struggles, and achievements of African Americans in North Carolina:

Ann George Atwater

In this biographical essay, Carrier shares the extraordinary life of Ann Atwater, a lifelong civil rights activist in Durham. In addition to many efforts on the state and local front to address food scarcity, voting rights, education and housing, Atwater is also remembered for the extraordinary experience she had of developing a friendship with an adversary — Klu Klux Klan leader Claiborne Ellis. Through that friendship, Ellis later refused association with the Klan and turned away from racism.

Kellis Earl Parker

In this biographical essay, Carrier shares the life of Kellis Parker, lawyer, civil rights activist, scholar and musician from Kinston. After attending Howard University Law School, Kellis became the first African American law professor at Columbia University. Parker led the NAACP’s Legal Defense and Educational Fund and wrote widely exploring legal remedies for racial issues. He was also the brother of renowned North Carolina musicians Melvin and Maceo Parker.

Henry Eppes

Hill has contributed this biography of Henry Eppes, Reconstruction politician and Senator from Halifax County, to tell the story of an important politician notably absent from the history books.  Born enslaved, after the Civil War Eppes worked for the Freedmen’s Bureau and became a delegate from the “Black Caucus” to the 1868 Constitutional Convention. He then served for seven terms in the state legislature.  Please visit this biography to learn more:

Charles Montgomery Eppes

Hill contributed this biography about the son of Henry Eppes (see above). C. M. Eppes became instrumental in establishing and improving educational opportunities for blacks in Greenville.  A man who was able to successfully manage adversity and controversy throughout his career, Eppes’ approach and politics were tied closely to those of Booker T. Washington, and he was at times at odds with members of the community and movement who believed in more aggressive action in the civil rights movement.  His story helps illustrate the complexity of the movement.

Denison Dover Garrett 

African American civil rights pioneer, NCCAP leader, civic leader, and Greenville businessman, D. D. Garrett spent his life persisting in the fight for rights and breaking down Jim Crow era color barriers.  Hill’s essay recounts Garrett’s experience in the military during WWII, his business endeavors, his later leadership of the local chapter of the NAACP, and his later recollections of life in the Jim Crow South.  He was elected as the first African American member of the Pitty County Board of Commissioners. Garrett has been remembered as courageous and persistent, a man who worked and accomplished much as a statesman through peaceful relations and diplomacy. Please visit this extended biographical essay.

Herman Bryan (H.B.) Sugg

Continuing his work on Pitt County educational history, Hill has contributed an extended biography on H.B. Sugg. Sugg spent his professional career leading the effort to improve education and schools for blacks in Farmville during segregation.  He later became the first African American to be elected to Farmville’s school board. Like the efforts of C. M. Eppes and D. D. Garrett, Sugg’s efforts and approach also help illustrate the complexities of the civil rights movement and the precarious position of blacks in the divided power structure — as Hill writes in the biography: “The racially divided power structure placed leaders like Sugg in a delicate position. Sugg’s actions as a leader speak to his adroit navigation of potentially dangerous realities to achieve tangible progress for African Americans while not compromising or losing the support of neither the white nor black communities.”

To learn more about history the history of African Americans in North Carolina, please visit this collection in NCpedia:

— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library





Celebrating African American History Month

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African American History Month: this month we honor and celebrate our country’s African American heritage.

Wedding photo of Charlotte Hawkins Brown, 1912.

Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown on her wedding day, 1912. From the North Carolina State Archives, Raleigh, NC.

African American History Month first began by Presidential Proclamation of Gerald Ford in 1976.  The year 1976 was also the 50th anniversary of the celebration of Negro History Week which began in 1926 by the efforts of Carter G. WoodsonNegro History week emerged from the founding of the Association for the Study of Negro Life and History (ASNLH) in Chicago in 1915. An historian, journalist, and advocate for systematic research into the neglected and buried history of African Americans, Woodson was one of the first scholars to study African American history, and he had put the event in motion in 1924 by urging members of his fraternity, Omega Psi Phi, to organize Negro History and Literature Week. This later became Negro Achievement Week.

In 1925, the 50th anniversary of Emancipation, the ASNLH organized the national celebration to take place the following year in February. The organizers chose February for two birthdays historically celebrated in Black Communities: Abraham Lincoln on February 12 and Frederick Douglass on February 14.  The event quickly spurred the growth of organizations and community groups who responded with annual celebrations. By the 1950s, Negro History Week was celebrated in cities and communities across the country.  And building on the heels of the 1960s, the Civil Rights Movement, and the 50 year history of Negro History Week, President Gerald Ford made the first federal proclamation of African American History Month in 1976.  Since that time, all of the country’s presidents have issued the February proclamation.

This month we’ll feature the history and achievements of Black and African Americans. We’ll begin today by sharing a few super useful resources to get you started exploring African American history and to help you follow the celebration throughout the month. Some of these resources are based in North Carolina and feature North Carolina’s history. Others connect to the national celebration. Please check them out to learn more!

From NCpedia, North Carolina’s online encylopedia:

Exploring North Carolina: African American History This collection brings together numerous topics, with links to encyclopedia articles. Some of the topics include: biographies, history of African American Education and the state’s HBCUs, organizations (civic, business, political and religious), culture and the arts, law, segregation, politics, civil rights, and historic places.  The collection also includes an extensive list of links to local and primary source collections online, as well as an extensive print bibliography.  Educator resources and lesson plans are also included.

From the National African American History Month commemoration website:

African American History Month This site is a joint initiative by a number of federal institutions — the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.  It’s a fabulous compendium of information and access points to biographies, historical essays, historical collections and documents, audio and video materials, legislative materials, and more. They have included a special resource page for teachers.  And the site also includes a calendar of live events throughout the month, some available by live-streaming.

From — the online reference guide to African American History:

With more than 13,000 articles, provides comprehensive access to the history of African Americans in the United States and around the world. The online resources includes access to speeches, photographs, and primary sources and has many special features including support for genealogy research.

From the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources:

Celebrations, exhibits and educational events around the state for African American history month Whether you find yourself on the Coast, in the Piedmont, or the Mountains, visit this calendar for happenings and learning opportunities near you.

And we’re social!  Please follow us on social media to tune in to the conversation!  Use the hashtag #everythingnc





— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library





Winter Weather Alert: State Library of North Carolina

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Winter Weather Alert: In the event of questionable road conditions, please call 919-807-7450 before visiting the Government & Heritage Library 919-807-7400 before visiting Library Development, or 919-733-4376 before visiting the NC Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped to ensure staff are onsite to assist you.

In the event of questionable road conditions, please call ahead before visiting to ensure staff are onsite to assist you.   Government & Heritage Library:  919-807-7450   Library Development: 919-807-7400   Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped: 919-733-4376






NC residents can now get an N.C. Government & Heritage Library Card!

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Online Convenience Premium Content at Your Fingertips! 


Online Convenience  Premium Content at your Fingertips! #everythingNC

Online Convenience Premium Content at your Fingertips! #everythingNC

Attention NC Residents! Now you can get an N.C. Government & Heritage Library Card! Sign up today!

To get your library card, sign up here  and email the form to

What can you do?

  • If you are a North Carolina resident or a state agency employee, you can apply for a library card and borrow items from our circulating collection. If your library is a member of the NC Cardinal Consortium, you may place a hold on circulating materials and they will be sent to your library.
  • State Library card holders can access many online research databases off site. Check our website  ( to determine access availability. Some databases are only available on site.

How it works:

  • Fill out a library card application and email it to us or bring it in. You will need to present a state issued identification card to complete your registration and receive your library card.

More information:

Additional information may be found in the North Carolina Administrative Code: 07 NCAC 02H .0100-.0109.

This blog is a service of the State Library of North Carolina, part of the NC Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. Blog comments and posts may be subject to Public Records Law and may be disclosed to third parties.