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Celebrating African American History Month: New in NCpedia

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Celebrating African American History Month: New in NCpedia

NCpedia has new entries to celebrate North Carolina’s African American heritage. These entries were shared with NCpedia by a number of our valued content partners and collaborators: the North Carolina Arts Council, North Carolina State University Libraries, and the State Archives of North Carolina. Visit NCpedia to learn more — and if you have a comment, question or personal story to share about these biographies and historical moments, please let us know by contributing a comment on the article page!  We love to hear from viewers!

African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina: Kinston Area: This article introduces viewers to Kinston’s musical heritage and serves as a launch point for a collection of related biographies and stories:

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Lieutenant J. Tim Brymn, director of the U.S. 350th Field Artillery Band. Image provided by University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries, Special Collections and University Archives.

John Henry Fortescue: Becoming Guitar Shorty — an entry about a one-of-a-kind, self-taught blues musician from Elm City.

Maceo and Melvin Parker: Early Influences — legendary brothers from Kinston, the Parkers both performed with James Brown and went on to their own solo careers. Maceo Parker received the North Carolina Heritage Award in 2016.

James Brown Band: “Almost Like a Kinston Band”— shares the legendary musician’s influence on and discovery of Kinston musicians.

Geneva Perry: From the International Sweethearts of Rhythm to Adkin High — Geneva Perry, a member of the 1940s all-women, multi-racial big band the International Sweethearts, taught music at Kinston’s Adkin High School.

Adkin High School Walkout 1951, Kinston, NC — shares the historical moment in 1951 when students of Kinston’s racially segregated high school staged a walkout to protest after their plea to the school board for educational resources was denied.

James Timothy Brymn — a Kinston musical legacy and early Jazz composer, Brymn studied at Shaw University and then went on National Conservatory of Music of America. His legendary compositions of the early decades of the 20th century were among the first to use the word “jazz.”

Dazelle Foster Lowe — shares the story of a leader in the establishment of home demostration for the state’s black communities beginning in World War I.

John William Mitchell — Mitchell, a pioneer in the establishment of extension service support for African Americans in North Carolina in the early decades of the 20th century became the first head of the newly created extension service office at N.C. A&T in 1922.

James William Alston — shares the life of a North Carolinian who served in the U.S. Army, worked at the State Museum (today’s Museum of Natural Sciences) and was among the first class of African Americans to be trained as military officers at the all-African American officers training school at Fort Dodge, IA on the eve of World War I.

— Kelly Agan, Government & Heritage Library

November is Native American Heritage Month!

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North Carolina Museum of History American Indian Heritage Celebration website. Click here for more information, schedule of events, and videos from previous years.

North Carolina Museum of History American Indian Heritage Celebration website. Click here for more information, schedule of events, and videos from previous years.

November is Native American Heritage Month.  And if you happen to be near Raleigh this weekend, visit the North Carolina Museum of History’s 21st Annual American Indian Heritage Celebration. The festival includes musicians, dancers, artists, storytellers, and authors from North Carolina’s tribal communities.  Visit and learn about the state’s American Indian culture! To see a schedule of the day’s events (and a preview from photos and video of past years’ celebrations), visit this page: http://ncmuseumofhistory.org/events/AIHC-2016/photos-and-videos.

Efforts to honor American Indians with a national commemoration began more than a century ago. Arthur Caswell Parker, an historian, anthropologist and member of the Seneca Nation, was the first American Indian to hold the post of Commissioner of Indian Affairs in the U.S. Department of the Interior, and he was a vocal advocate of citizenship rights for Native Americans and the adoption of national commemorative day.  Parker was a founder of the Society of American Indians and the National Congress of American Indians.  At Parker’s urging, the Boy Scouts of America observed a day for American Indians for a few years during the early decades of the 20th century.

And then in 1915, the National Congress of American Indians approved a plan to authorize its president, the Rev. Sherman Coolidge, a member of the Arapahoe Nation, to ask the U.S. Congress to honor an American Indian Day. President Calvin Coolidge issued a proclamation on September 28, 1915 declaring the second Saturday of May as American Indian Day. The following year, New York proclaimed the second Saturday in May as American Indian Day.  Other states joined the effort at various times throughout the 20th century, designating a special day, although not always in May, to celebrate the heritage and contributions to the nation of American Indians.

In 1976, the U.S. Congress authorized President Gerald Ford to proclaim a week in October as Native American Awareness Week.  Since that time, the President and Congress have issued annual proclamations for the observance.  In 1990, President George H. W. Bush approved a joint Congressional resolution designating November as National American Indian Heritage Month, and similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.  This year, on October 31, President Obama declared November as National Native American Heritage Month.

Today, the state of North Carolina is home to more than 100,000 persons who are American Indians.  You can learn about North Carolina’s tribal communities by visiting the North Carolina Commission of Indians Affairs at: http://ncadmin.nc.gov/citizens/american-indians/nc-tribal-communities.

— Kay Tillotson, Genealogical Research Librarian, Government & Heritage Library

For more information on the history of honoring American Indians, American Indian tribes, and North Carolina’s American Indian tribes and heritage, visit these resources:

Women’s History Month 2016: “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government”

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"The Suffragists' Calendar, a Year-Book for Every Thinking Woman," P.F. Vollard & Co., 1916. From the the Gertrude Weil Papers, State Archives of North Carolina. Online at NC Digital Collections.

“The Suffragists’ Calendar, a Year-Book for Every Thinking Woman,” P.F. Vollard & Co., 1916. From the the Gertrude Weil Papers, State Archives of North Carolina. Online at NC Digital Collections.

March is Women’s History Month!  And the selection of March for the commemoration is no co-incidence.  On March 8, 1908 amidst a police presence, female garment workers took to the streets of New York City to commemorate the march of their needle-worker forebears on March 8, 1857.  Both marches demanded better working conditions, shorter days, and equal rights.  The 1908 march also demanded the vote.

The following year, 1909, the Socialist Party was in full-swing advocating the cause of women, and the first National Women’s Day in the U.S. was designated by the Socialist Party of America to remember the march of the prior year.  By 1911, as an outgrowth of the second International Conference of Working Women held in Copenhagen the year before, International Women’s Day was celebrated on the last Sunday in February for the first time in a number of European countries.  In 1913, March 8 became firmly established as the annual celebration of International Women’s Day.  Sixty years later, the United Nations would designate 1975 as the International Women’s Year.

Although these events were celebrated in the U.S. with increasing advocacy for equality and the illumination of women’s history, it was not until 1981 that Congress authorized the president to proclaim the week of March 7, 1982 as “Women’s History Week.”  The year before, President Jimmy Carter issued a proclamation marking the week of March 8, 1980 as National Women’s History Week.  From then until 1987, Congress passed annual resolutions marking the week each year until a petition in 1987 by the National Women’s History Project succeeded in securing Congressional approval for March as National Women’s History Month.  All presidents since have issued proclamations for Women’s History Month in March.

This year’s theme for the national celebration — “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government” — is opportunity to share the extraordinary work of North Carolina’s women in the history of the women’s movement and in working to improve the lives of others. Throughout the month, we’ll share biographies, images, historical collections, and books that help tell these stories.

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Celebrating African American History Month: New NCpedia biographies

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Celebrating African American History Month: new NCpedia biographies

 February is African American History Month and this year’s theme for the national observance is “Hallowed Grounds: Sites of African American Memories”.

Photo of Willie Otey (Willie Kay), ca. 1910, by Manly W. Tyree. Copy courtesy of Ralph Campbell, Jr. Item N_93_9_66, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina.

Photo of Willie Otey (Willie Kay), ca. 1910, by Manly W. Tyree. Copy courtesy of Ralph Campbell, Jr. Item N_93_9_66, collection of the State Archives of North Carolina.

This week NCpedia added two new resources that share two memories for African American history in North Carolina.  These stories are available thanks to collaboration with North Carolina curators and librarians.

Willie Otey Kay:  The first is a biographical essay on Willie Otey Kay — Raleigh dressmaker par excellence — written with Diana Bell-Kite, a curator at the North Carolina Museum of History who developed a new exhibit at the Museum, “Made Especially for You by Willie Kay”. If you haven’t visited the exhibit, do! It’s a wonderful window into the life and art of an amazing woman whose work transcended racially segregated society in Raleigh during the 20th century. Her life, work and legacy were featured in numerous publications, including McCall’s, Life, and the News & Observer. That legacy included both her enduring creations as well her descendents’ impact in the push for civil rights both locally in Raleigh and beyond.  The NCpedia article also includes images shared by the Museum of History and the State Archives of North Carolina.

 

Dr. C. B. Smith (left) and J.W. Mitchell, at the Negro 4-H Short Course at A & T College, Greensboro. From the "Annual Report of Agricultural Extension Work in North Carolina 1938." NCSU Libraries’ Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials.

Dr. C. B. Smith (left) and J.W. Mitchell, at the Negro 4-H Short Course at A & T College, Greensboro. From the “Annual Report of Agricultural Extension Work in North Carolina 1938.” NCSU Libraries’ Digital Collections: Rare and Unique Materials.

John W. Mitchell:  The second entry shares the life and work of John W. Mitchell, a “pioneering African American extension agent and educator who became one of the most well known Cooperative Extension agents in the nation.” Mitchell came to the state’s cooperative extension service in 1922 and became the head of the district office at A&T State University in an era when 4-H clubs and extension services were segregated, along with many aspects of life and opportunties for African Americans. He later went on to the U.S. Agricultural Extension Service and became one of the nation’s top agricultural experts.

This biography was contributed to NCpedia by James Stewart, a digital projects librarian at NC State University.  James works on projects in the “Better Living” collection at NCSU Libraries.  This is the first contribution to NCpedia from a new collaboration with NCSU Libraries!!

 

Kelly Agan, North Carolina Government & Heritage Library

 

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