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Why the recurring preoccupation with [Black Mountain College], a short-lived, unaccredited school at the back of beyond, which never had enough students to pay its way? It could be the school’s believe-it-or-not story and how, the more you learn about it, the more unlikely it seems….

Between Black Mountain and most of today’s universities (and art schools), there lies an unbridgeable gap between teachers willing and able to make a full commitment to students who would do the same, and institutions staffed by poorly paid adjuncts who’d be mad to invest any more care in their fleeting charges than Uber drivers do in their next fare. It’s the gap between a society of members who take responsibility for the whole, and bloated administrations and boards that imagine schools can be run like corporations. It’s the gap between the desire to live and work together as a community day and night, and the fantasy that massive open online courses will allow fewer teachers to impart information to ever more numerous and ever more atomized recipients. It’s the gap between a desire for equality, on the one hand, and the bottom line of profit-making corporations, on the other….”

— From The Weirdness and Joy of Black Mountain College” by Barry Schwabsky in the Nation (Feb. 24, 2016)

 

Services for the poor in the early 20th century were often rooted in church organizations in most parts of North Carolina. The basic social safety nets that exist now were yet to be in those early decades, and welfare programs in many parts of the country were grassroots efforts led by a few well-intentioned humanitarians.

Captain David G. Coy and his wife were career charity workers. Their story draws from an array of local news stories in historic newspapers in and around North Carolina documenting their efforts. After years in service of the Salvation Army in multiple locations, Captain Coy came to work with the Volunteers of America – a group doing similar work to the Salvation Army – in Hickory. The Coys established a Volunteers’ Home in Hickory in 1916. The Volunteers’ Home had ten rooms that the Coys used to provide shelter for the less fortunate. Coy was able to raise the rent of the house from local churches, and fund the remainder of the expenses through community fundraising.

The Hickory Daily Record documented and celebrated the Coys’ efforts in its pages, and played an active role in promoting the charity work. Coy received a donation of a carload of coal from Mr. Otis Mouser, the vice-president of the Stonega Coke and Coal Company (Big Stone Gap, Virginia).  Captain Coy convinced the city of Hickory to cover the freight cost to bring the coal to town. The Hickory Ice and Coal Company offered space for storage, and coal came to needy families in wagons owned by Mr. Eubert Lyerly.

Captain Coy had been active with the Salvation Army in Johnson City, Tennessee, as early as 1910. The Coys took leave of Johnson City for Silver City, New Mexico in the spring of 1911. “The Captain goes there for his health,” explained The Comet. They again left Tennessee for Cincinnati in 1912, but returned to Johnson City in September of that year, again taking charge of the Salvation Army’s efforts.

In Hickory, the Volunteers raised over $300 in 1916 for their Empty Stocking Fund, providing for a Christmas tree in the town, as well as 58 Christmas baskets distributed to families, each containing foodstuffs for a Christmas feast. The Hickory Daily Record supported this effort with a donation certificate run in its pages through the holiday season. Announcements came out every few days on the Daily Record’s front page, calling for more donations and praising local residents who had given a few dollars.

Captain Coy managed to gather resources to host a married couple, Mr. and Mrs. George Bradley, who had given up their children and suffered from tuberculosis. The couple received shelter in the form of a tent set up outside the Volunteers’ Home. The Hickory Daily Record ran personalized stories such as this (“Tent Is Needed For Young Married Couple,” Hickory Daily Record, January 27, 1917) to promote and draw support for the Coys’ efforts.

In 1917, just months after his Christmas season success, there was a public call for Captain Coy to abandon his efforts in Hickory. City residents discovered that Coy and a friend had spent a few days in Atlanta, and gone through around $200 of the charity funds raised from the public. The Coys later went on to work with the Volunteers of America in Jackson, Tennessee.

A charity coupon for Captain Coy’s Volunteers of America; from the Hickory Daily Record, November 25, 1916.

“[When “The Flintstones” first aired in the early ’60s] Winston was the main sponsor. Episodes ended with Fred and his pal Barney looking for a way to unwind after a long day and settling on sharing a smoke. Fred and Wilma then do the same. (You can watch the ad here.) The ad closed with Fred speaking Winston’s then-famous catchphrase: ‘Winston tastes good like a cigarette should.’

“And that’s where the controversy came in. No, not cartoon characters hawking cigs — while there were some who objected, the cartoon at the time was seen mostly as geared for grown-ups. And regardless, those complaints were dwarfed by the larger outcries: people complaining about Winston’s grammar….”

“In apt summary of his remarkable way of war,  [Nathanael]  Greene wrote, ‘There are few generals that have run oftener, or more lustily than I have done… But I have taken care not to run too far, and commonly have run as fast forward as backward, to convince our enemy that we were like a crab, that could run either way’….”

“In many ways Greene’s strategy and mindset anticipates that of another great self-taught soldier: Vietnam’s Vo Nguyen Giap. Like Greene, Giap had unshakable belief in the cause for which he fought, and was able to transmit that faith to his officers and men. And like Greene, Giap integrated the activities of local militia, guerrilla bands, and conventional army forces to wear down adversaries with greater military skill and strength than his own forces possessed. Giap, too, suffered many setbacks.

“But by the time the U.S. Army squared off against Giap in 1965, it had all but forgotten Greene’s extraordinary achievement in the South — and thus was largely tone deaf to the perils and possibilities of unconventional war.”

— From “Nathanael Greene: The Revolution’s Unconventional Mastermind” by James A. Warren at the Daily Beast (Nov. 27)

 

“The overwhelming victory [at Moores Creek in 1776]  provided an unmatched opportunity for North Carolina patriots to display their patriotism to the rest of the country….John Penn, who had recently left Congress to return home to North Carolina, updated his former colleague John Adams….North Carolinians, Penn concluded in his letter to Adams, ‘are quite spirited and unanimous; indeed, I hear nothing praised but Common Sense and Independence. [They] say they are determined to die hard.’ ”

— From The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution”  by Robert G. Parkinson (2016)

Despite Penn’s usage, the term “die hard” didn’t enter the idiom until 1811. 

 

The arrival of commencement weekend gives us a welcome opportunity to look back at spring traditions at UNC. The NCC Gallery honors those traditions with a display of Carolina traditions, including this Jubilee program and pinback button — our May Artifacts of the Month.

Jubilee program

Jubilee button

Jubilee was an annual concert that celebrated the end of the spring semester at Carolina from 1963 to 1971. What began as a small concert featuring a few acoustic performers in front of Graham Memorial in 1963 grew to become a can’t-miss festival-style rock show at Navy Field in 1971.

Over the years, Jubilee brought performers in a variety of genres to UNC, including Johnny Cash and June Carter, Neil Diamond, the Temptations, Joe Cocker, the Association, B.B. King, the Chambers Brothers, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Blood, Sweat, and Tears — as well as lesser-known (or less remembered) acts.

The 1969 UNC Yearbook, the Yackety Yack, called it “The biggest weekend of the year — of the past three years.”

The program from that year describes the event in these groovy terms:

Jubilee program close-up

Jubilee ’69 is not a series of concerts, but an environment for activity. The key ingredient is the creative energies of those who come to it. The concept behind this year’s planning is to encourage students to meet and mingle, to create their own experience out of an environment of color, form, and ideas.

Two years later, in 1971, Jubilee imploded under its own excess.

In advance of the ’71 event, the Daily Tar Heel reported that Jubilee would have a new, small stage in addition to the main stage. The small stage would provide “entertainment ranging from cartoons to concerts featuring standouts at the Union Grove Fiddlers Convention,” as well as the UNC Jazz Lab Band and Durham soul act Shamrock.

Headliners would include the Allman Brothers, Chuck Berry, Spirit, Cowboy, the J. Geils Band, Tom Rush, and Muddy Waters.

According to the article:

In addition to the major concerts and the entertainment on the small stage, Jubilee ’71 will include an Astro-bounce, a slip and slide, balloons, soap bubbles, three large foam rubber piles and all kinds of food.

Carolina Union President Richie Leonard was quoted by the DTH saying he hoped the activities “will keep as many people as possible involved at all times.”

Leonard got his wish: The crowds at Jubilee ’71 peaked at 23,000 on Saturday night.

The event, which had been getting larger and more unruly for a few years, had reached maximum mayhem. Gatecrashers tore down fences, the huge crowds damaged the grounds at Navy Field, and noise complaints multiplied.

A week afterward, the Student Union Activities Group called an end to Jubilee, recommending that it be replaced by smaller events spread throughout the year.


The University Archives holds a film from 1971 Jubilee in the Records of the Student Union. A short clip from the beginning of the film is available here:


For the next two years, students argued for Jubilee’s revival, with student government candidates making its reinstatement part of their election platforms.

The name Jubilee was eventually revived for a new annual spring concert — but not until 2015, when the Carolina Union Activities Board brought hip-hop act Rae Sremmurd to Hooker Fields. But the smaller, more contained 21st-century Jubilee resembles its wild namesake in title only… for now.

If you’re curious about other spring traditions at Carolina, stop by the Gallery and see our exhibit!

“Rumor mills went into overtime [during World War II], fabricating tales of violence in public transportation, warning that blacks intended to ‘take over’ white women and that they were ‘gathering ice picks’ for a mass insurrection…..

“In May 1943 fears of a black uprising increased when the Charlotte News published a letter from Leander Derr, a black insurance salesman from Monroe, N.C. Upset by attempts to disenfranchise blacks, Derr posed the question: ‘What are blacks fighting for?’  In his letter he alleged that blacks were ‘fighting to make it safe for the white man to take away our right to vote — to discriminate against us, to exploit us, to “keep the nigger in is place”….As for me, to hell with the USA’….Due to public outrage and threats on his life, Monroe police apprehended Derr and put him in protective custody…. [They] determined he was not a threat and released him….”

— From “Home Front: North Carolina during World War II” by Julian M. Pleasants (2017)

I haven’t found further information on Derr, but perhaps his protest — and white Monroe’s reaction — could be seen as foreshadowing the violent case of Robert Williams.

 

On this day in 1863: Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, the Confederacy’s master tactician, dies of pneumonia, eight days after being mistakenly shot by troops from the 18th N.C. regiment.

He was shot at nightfall while scouting ahead of the line near Chancellorsville, Va. His men mistook him for the enemy. As he lay wounded, doctors amputated his maimed arm. “He has lost his left arm,” says Robert E. Lee, “but I have lost my right arm.”

.

“Some States have allowed facts other than physical characteristics to be presumptive of race. Thus, it has been held in North Carolina that, if one was a slave in 1865 , it is to be presumed that he was a Negro.

“The fact that one usually associates with Negroes has been held in the same State proper evidence to go to the jury tending to show that he is a Negro….”

— From “Race Distinctions in American Law” by Gilbert Thomas Stephenson (1910) 

 

“Agriculture Commissioner W. Kerr Scott has urged that bakeries eliminate consignment selling of bread and thus save ‘untold thousands of bushels of wheat daily’ to help the emergency food situation [in Europe].

“Scott said in a wire to U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson that the bakeries’ practice of ‘crowding the market’ with consignment bread resulted in the loss of approximately 150,000 bushels of wheat annually in North Carolina alone, and he placed the estimated money value of the loss in this State at about $1,000,000 a year….

“Scott said he got his figures from Department of Agriculture field men in the Pure Food and Drugs Division. Their survey showed, he said, that thousands of loaves of bread were wasted daily in North Carolina through the consignment practice of taking day-old bread off store shelves.”

— From “Sound plan urged for saving grain” in the Sylva Herald and Ruralite (Oct. 20, 1947)

Two weeks earlier, in the first televised White House address, President Truman had called on Americans to help stockpile grain for Europe by forgoing meat on Tuesdays and poultry and eggs on Thursdays.

 

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