The UNC “White Phantoms”?

The UNC men’s basketball team was known informally as the “White Phantoms” from the 1920s through 1950s. It wasn’t an official nickname — they’ve always been the Tar Heels — but White Phantoms was a popular term for the team, … Continue reading

Daily Tar Heel, 5 February 1933.

Daily Tar Heel, 5 February 1933.

The UNC men’s basketball team was known informally as the “White Phantoms” from the 1920s through 1950s. It wasn’t an official nickname — they’ve always been the Tar Heels — but White Phantoms was a popular term for the team, especially among sportswriters.

The origins of the nickname are not entirely clear. A Daily Tar Heel article from 1965 attributed the nickname to Atlanta sportswriter Morgan Blake, who first used it after witnessing the quiet, quick play of the team in a tournament. At the time, the team also wore all-white uniforms, which probably contributed to the nickname.

Daily Tar Heel, 25 March 1941.

Daily Tar Heel, 25 March 1941.

The name originated in an era when sportswriters were known for their colorful language and creative headlines. UNC was not the only team with an unofficial sports-section nickname: N.C. State was the “Red Terrors,” Duke was the “Blue Imps,” and the Carolina freshman team was known as the “Tar Babies.” Most of these informal names have now faded from use, though a few have remained (like the “Wahoos” of the University of Virginia).

Daily Tar Heel, 11 February 1928.

Daily Tar Heel, 11 February 1928.

Daily Tar Heel, 12 February 1927.

Daily Tar Heel, 12 February 1927.

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to pin down exact dates for when the nickname was used, but a keyword search of the digitized Daily Tar Heel archives gives us a good idea. The first use appears in late 1925, around the time that UNC won the Southern Conference tournament in Atlanta (which supports the idea that it originated with an Atlanta sportswriter). It appears to have faded from use by 1951, possibly under the encouragement of the athletic department, which wanted to promote the consistent use of Tar Heels for all of the UNC teams.

 

1982 — UNC’s First Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration

In 1982, UNC held its first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day Celebration. The multi-day celebration included a variety of events honoring Dr. King and his legacy. The featured speaker at the University-wide celebration was Dr. Prezell R. Robinson, president of … Continue reading

In 1982, UNC held its first annual Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Day Celebration. The multi-day celebration included a variety of events honoring Dr. King and his legacy. The featured speaker at the University-wide celebration was Dr. Prezell R. Robinson, president of St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh and of the United Negro College Fund.  Originally scheduled for January 15, the celebration was postponed due to snow and ice in Chapel Hill. The event featuring Dr. Robinson was held on January 28, 1982.

Program cover
Inside of program, p. 1
Inside of program, p. 2
Back cover of program

Program from the Records of the Office of Chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Christopher C. Fordham, 1980-1988 (40024).

First Black Female FBI Agent was UNC-Chapel Hill Alumna

The Carolina Times, February 21, 1976
The Carolina Times, February 21, 1976

The first black woman FBI agent in the United States was UNC-Chapel Hill’s Sylvia Elizabeth Mathis (J.D., 1975). Hers was a life framed by a commitment to service, a dedication to family, and marked by numerous accomplishments.

In May 1975, Mathis graduated from UNC School of Law and soon thereafter passed the North Carolina Bar. But her accomplishments did not start or stop there; before her time in Chapel Hill, Mathis had also attended Fisk (1968-69) and then New York University (1969-72), where she received a Bachelor’s in Political Science. Right after law school, she stayed in North Carolina and worked for the Department of Cultural Resources.

At age 26, Mathis became the first black female FBI agent, beginning her training at Quantico in February 1976. She was also the very first female agent recruited in the state of North Carolina. At the time, only 41 agents out of a total of 8,500 in the country were women. Quoted in the February 7, 1976 issue of the Virginian Pilot newspaper, Mathis explained, “…I am interested in delving into the relation of defending of rights and enforcement of rights. Going into the FBI seemed like a natural step.”

Mathis was assigned to the New York office of the FBI where she worked as a special agent and then as an advisor to the Office of Legal Counsel (1979-80). She then returned to Jacksonville, Florida to care for her parents in 1982. Accounts vary as to whether Mathis was a Florida or North Carolina native, but while the family may have had Durham connections, Jacksonville was where her parents had called home for many years, and Sylvia had attended Bishop Kenny High School in the city.

Just the next year, in 1983, Sylvia’s life was tragically cut short by a car accident at age 34. At the time of her death, she worked as the Director of the Jacksonville Downtown Ecumenical Service Council, providing support to homeless and unemployed residents of the city. Shortly before her death, she was awarded “Ms. Metro” by the Jacksonville weekly newspaper, The Metropolis. A volunteer who worked with Mathis was quoted in the October 19, 1983 issue of the paper that, “She is a very caring person and has given a lot of her time to those who need help.” In a 1984 letter to the UNC publication University Report, Law School professor James B. Craven III remembered that she was a “rare and unforgettable” student, that he “was always proud of her and miss her now.”

North Carolina Governors Who Went to UNC

When Roy Cooper was sworn in as Governor of North Carolina on January 1st, he became the 32nd North Carolina Governor to have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here’s the full list. William Miller Attended 1802 … Continue reading

When Roy Cooper was sworn in as Governor of North Carolina on January 1st, he became the 32nd North Carolina Governor to have attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Here’s the full list.

William Miller Attended 1802 In office 1814- 1817
John Branch Class of 1801 In office 1817-1820
John Owen Attended 1804 In office 1828-1830
David Lowry Swain Attended 1821-1822 In office 1832-1835
Richard Dobbs Spaight Class of 1815 In office 1835-1836
John Motley Morehead Class of 1817 In office 1841-1845
William Alexander Graham Attended 1882-1884 In office 1845-1849
Charles Manly Class of 1814 In office 1849-1851
Warren Winslow Class of 1827 In office 1854-1855
John Willis Ellis Class of 1841 In office 1859-1861
Henry Toole Clark Class of 1826 In office 1861-1862
Zebulon Vance Attended 1851-1852 In office 1862-1865;       1877-1879
Tod Robinson Caldwell Class of 1840 In office 1871-1874
Alfred Moore Scales Attended 1888-1890 In office 1885-1889
Thomas Michael Holt Attended 1849-1850 In office 1891-1893
Elias Carr Attended 1855-1857 In office 1893-1897
Daniel Lindsay Russell Attended 1860-1862 (honorary degree given 1911) In office 1897-1901
Charles Brantley Aycock Class of 1880 In office 1901-1905
William Walton Kitchin School of Law, Class of 1910 In office 1909-1913
Locke Craig Class of 1880 In office 1913-1917
Angus Wilton McLean Attended the School of Law 1890-1892 In office 1925-1929
O. Max Gardner Attended 1905-1906 In office 1929-1933
John C.B. Ehringhaus Class of 1901 In office 1933-1937
Clyde R. Hoey Attended the School of Law 1899 In office 1937-1941
William B. Umstead Class of 1916 In office 1953-1954
Luther H. Hodges Class of 1919 In office 1954-1961
Terry Sanford Class of 1941 In office 1961-1965
Dan K. Moore Class of 1927 In office 1965-1969
James Holshouser School of Law, Class of 1960 In office 1973-1977
James B. Hunt, Jr. School of Law, Class of 1964 In office 1977-1985;      1993-2001
Mike Easley Class of 1972 In office 2001-2009
Roy Cooper Class of 1979 Currently in office