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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. https://www.ncpedia.org/atwater-ann-george

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. https://www.ncpedia.org/parker-kellis-earl

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: https://www.ncpedia.org/eppes-henry

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. https://www.ncpedia.org/eppes-charles-montgomery

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. http://www.ncpedia.org/garrett-denison-dover

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.” https://www.ncpedia.org/sugg-herman-bryan

To learn more about history the history of African Americans in North Carolina, please visit this collection in NCpedia: https://www.ncpedia.org/exploring-north-carolina-african-american-history.

— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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New @NCpedia: Learn about local educational and civil rights leaders in Pitt County and read a new biography of Henry Eppes, member of the 1868 “Black Caucus”

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New @NCpedia: Learn about local educational and civil rights leaders in Pitt County and read a new biography of Henry Eppes, member of the 1868 “Black Caucus”

NCpedia is pleased to share some of its newest content. These are new biographical entries about education and civil rights leaders in Pitt County and a biographical entry on Henry Eppes.

W.H. Davenport standing in front of Greenville, N.C.'s C. M. Eppes High School, January 19, 1961. Item 741.26.a44, from the Daily Reflector Image Collection, East Carolina University Digital Collections.

W.H. Davenport standing in front of Greenville, N.C.’s C. M. Eppes High School, January 19, 1961. Item 741.26.a44, from the Daily Reflector Image Collection, East Carolina University Digital Collections.

Henry Eppes was a North Carolina state legislator who was a member of the 1868 “Black Caucus” as a delegate to the state constitutional convention. He was also a delegate to the Freedmen’s Convention of 1866.

These entries share stories specific to Greenville and Pitt County.  At the same time, the local history they provide illustrates many of the themes and currents of the history of North Carolina and the nation.

These entries appear in NCpedia thanks to one of our newest contributors, Steven Hill. Steven is a high school history teacher in Greenville, North Carolina public schools. He has  a passion for researching and sharing history, especially the educational and civil rights history of his home county. Thank you, Steven, for sharing your work and these important histories with NCpedia viewers!

New @Ncpedia: D.D. Garrett and his wife Clotea on December 5, 1988. Taking the oath of office as the first Black County Commissioner. From the Michael Garrett Family private collection. Used in NCpedia by permission.

New @Ncpedia: D.D. Garrett and his wife Clotea on December 5, 1988. Taking the oath of office as the first Black County Commissioner. From the Michael Garrett Family private collection. Used in NCpedia by permission.

Please visit these entries to learn more:

Willis Haynie Davenport — African American educational leader: http://www.ncpedia.org/davenport-willis-haynie

Henry Eppes — North Carolina state legislator and member of the 1868 “Black Caucus”:  http://www.ncpedia.org/eppes-henry

Charles Montgomery Eppes — noted African American educational leader and son of Henry Eppes: http://www.ncpedia.org/eppes-charles-montgomery

Denison Dover Garrett — African American civil rights pioneer, NCCAP leader, civic leader, and Greenville businessman: http://www.ncpedia.org/garrett-denison-dover

Junius Harris Rose — Superintendent of Greenville Schools 1920-1967: http://www.ncpedia.org/rose-junius-harris

Do you have a topic in North Carolina history whose story might fit in NCpedia?

Please let us know!  To learn how to contribute, visit NCpedia’s Contribute page: http://www.ncpedia.org/contribute. Or contact me!

— Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library

 

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What’s New about North Carolina in NCpedia?!

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New in NCpedia!

NCpedia has a number of fascinating new stories about North Carolina history and people. Check them out and share!

New in NCpedia: Aerial photograph of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), the former site of the NASA tracking station near Rosman, North Carolina. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Aerial photograph of the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), the former site of the NASA tracking station near Rosman, North Carolina. Image courtesy of the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

North Carolina in the era of space exploration

Did you know that North Carolina was home to a NASA satellite tracking facility during the peak years of the space program?  Yes, it’s true!  Check out this new entry on the site, located near Rosman, North Carolina: ncpedia.org/NASA-rosman-satellite-tracking-facility.  And on May 8 of this year, the site was recognized with the dedication of the state’s newest Highway Historical Marker (located just off NC Highway 64 near Rosman).

History of Nursing in North Carolina

NCpedia has been building a collection on the history of professional nursing in the state, along with some of the pioneering nurses that made ground-breaking history in the development of nursing education and in bringing modern healthcare to communities. Visit the collection here: ncpedia.org/category/subjects/nurses

New in NCpedia: Kellis Parker, senior year portrait, 1964. From the UNC-Chapel Hill student yearbook the <i>Yackety Yack</i>. Used by permission of University of North Carolina Libaries.

Kellis Parker, senior year portrait, 1964. From the UNC-Chapel Hill student yearbook the Yackety Yack. Used by permission of University of North Carolina Libraries.

Biography of Kellis Earl Parker, lawyer, activist, scholar, and musician

Learn about the life and accomplishments of Lenoir County native, Kellis Earl Parker.  With civil rights activism a central part of his life’s work, Parker was one of the first black students to enroll at the University of North Carolina and went on to become the first black law professor at Columbia University.  He was also an accomplished musician and brother to legendary saxophone player, Maceo Parker. ncpedia.org/parker-kellis-earl

Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library

New in NCpedia: North Carolina Women

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New in NCpedia:  North Carolina Women

North Carolina Women: Portrait of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Susie Marshall Sharp. From the Waller Collection, PhC.14, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

North Carolina Women: Portrait of North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Susie Marshall Sharp. From the Waller Collection, PhC.14, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina. Used with permission.

Women’s history month is rushing by!  Before it passes, NCpedia has new biographies to share on North Carolina women. These entries come us from our content partners at the University of North Carolina Libraries, the Research Branch of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, and the North Carolina Symphony.

If you’re in for a little browsing, visit this link to all NCpedia bios about women: http://www.ncpedia.org/biography/women

New NCpedia entries:

  • Marie Watters Colton — first female speaker Pro Tempore of the NC House of Representatives.
  • Elizabeth “Libba” Nevills Cotten — Carrboro native and key figure in the 1960s folk music revival.
  • Mary Claire Engstrom — long-time Hillsborough resident and instrumental in founding the town’s Historical Society and chronicling the history of Orange County.
  • Mary Nicholson — Early female commercial pilot from Greensboro, joined the British Air Transport Auxiliary during WWII.
  • Anne Penland — from Asheville, Penland became a pioneering nurse anesthetist and was the first women to serve as an anesthetist on the European front in WWI, in a British base hospital.
  • Susie Marshall Sharp — ground-breaking first female judge in the state’s history, first female member of the State Supreme Court and its first female Chief Justice.
  • Maxine Swallin — along with her husband, Benjamin Swallin, she helped revive the floundering North Carolina Symphony in the 1930s.

–Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

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