New in the collection: Silent Vigil reunion pinback

Pinback with the words, "Sixty-eight silent vigil reunion eighty-eight."

“The largest student demonstration in Duke’s history, which came down to be known as the ‘Silent Vigil,’ developed over the period from April 4 to 12, 1968. They were eight days that changed Duke forever.

“Events began with the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis on Thursday, April 4, which created ‘a mixture of sadness, fear, guilt and frustration’ on campus, said one contemporary account. As riots erupted across the country, student leaders, principally from campus religious groups, and a growing number of radicals, immediately began to discuss a campus response. One group called for a vigil in front of the chapel; another called for a protest march….”

— From “The Silent Vigil, 1968”  by William E. King, university archivist (1997)

 

‘Chanteys moved up the Chesapeake…’

“[John Frye, author of  ‘The Men All Singing : the Story of Menhaden Fishing’] suggests that the menhaden chanteys originated in North Carolina, and later inspired regional variations. He quotes Charles E. Williams, a fisherman aboard the Stephen J. McKeever in 1929: ‘The chanteys moved up the Chesapeake Bay and on north.’

“It’s treacherous, of course, to romanticize labor—particularly labor that was often backbreaking, segregated, and poorly paid. But there is, nonetheless, real beauty in the chanteymen’s heavy, rhythmic singing, in the way the crew briefly blurred together, briefly becoming a single body. In a moment where we are looking for escape and communion wherever we can find it, #shanteytok, as it has come to be called, feels like a safe and welcome portal to anywhere but here.”

— From “The Delights of Sea-Chantey TikTok” by Amanda Petrusich in the New Yorker (Jan. 14)

New in the collection: Barry Farber campaign button

Pinback button with the words,"Barry Farber for Congress. Nineteen seventy."

Though Barry Farber, graduate of Greensboro High (’48) and UNC Chapel Hill (’52), would make his reputation as a radio talker, he also ventured into politics on occasion. Most memorable in his 1970 race for House of Representatives was who defeated him: Bella Abzug.

 

Black crime wave dubious but dangerous

“When it comes to actual crimes — real rapes — at the turn of the twentieth century, the record is full of silences. There seems not to have been any investigation into the alleged crime wave in eastern North Carolina at the end of the 19th century, even though supposed black crime furnished the rationale for a bloody attack on blacks in Wilmington and for subsequent disfranchisement….”

— From Southern History Across the Color Line by Nell Irvin Painter (2002)

New in the collection: Charlotte rodeo program

Cover of 1948 Southeast Championship Rodeo program. Features rider falling off horse.

Back cover of rodeo program with numerous signatures

The week-long Southeast Championship Rodeo and World’s Greatest Wildwest Show was held at Charlotte Memorial Stadium in April 1948. Curiously, the autographs printed on the program cover belong not to the visiting rodeo stars but to the sponsoring Jaycees.

Among events: a donkey-riding contest for kids. “Center donkey is for the girls,” the program explains. “End donkey is for little white boys, and the donkey in front of the colored section is for the little colored boys….”

Which port city wins I-40?

“From the first seeds planted in 1963 to its eventual completion in 1990, Interstate 40 would go from a nearly 20-year oversight to a statewide priority.  The I-40 saga…. would place the state’s two port cities — Morehead City and Wilmington — into a decade-long competition in which only one could win….”

— From “To The Shore! – North Carolina’s Struggle to Build Interstate 40 to the Atlantic Coast” by Adam Prince at gribblenation.org (Aug. 14, 2016)

New in the collection: Robin Hayes campaign washcloth

White wash cloth with words "Vote Hayes."

Did this distinctive if humble item spring from Robin Hayes’s campaign for Concord City Council? For N.C. House? For Congress? For governor?

Regardless, the Cannon Mills scion’s hortatory washcloth bears a Cannon Mills label (84 percent cotton, 16 percent polyester) — and even found its way to a booth at the mammoth antique mall now occupying the former Cannon-owned Gibson Mill in Concord.

Non-slaveholders reconsider war

“Some upcountry non-slaveholding whites had already become disillusioned fighting the slaveholders’ war.

Alexander H. Jones of eastern North Carolina helped organize the 10,000-man Heroes of America, which laid an ‘underground railroad’ for White Unionists in Confederate territory to escape.

“‘The fact is,’ Jones wrote in a secret antiracist circular referring to the rich planters, that ‘these bombastic, highfalutin aristocratic fools have been in the habit of driving negroes and poor helpless white people until they think…. that they themselves are superior….”

— From “Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America” by Ibram X. Kendi (2016)

New in the collection: Bull Durham watch charm

Watch charm featuring Bull Durham icon

“Send 5 cents and we will mail you pre-paid, anywhere in the U.S., a 5-cent sack of ‘Bull’ Durham, a Book of cigarette papers, and this 14K gold plated ‘Bull’ Watch Charm, Free….

“We will also send you an illustrated booklet showing how to ‘roll your own’ cigarettes….”

— From a full-page ad in Popular Mechanics magazine (May 1914)

The chain was probably added by an early owner.  

 

Newspaper cartoons sparked 1898 coup

“There was no reckoning with the [News & Observer’s] role in the Wilmington coup until 2006, when Timothy B. Tyson, a historian at Duke University, authored a sixteen-page special section detailing the events. The editorial board also issued an apology….

“Without the News & Observer’s stories — and especially the cartoons — a hostile takeover would not have been possible.  ‘You can’t underestimate the heat involved in these political cartoons,’ he said. ‘They were the cable news of their day. You didn’t even have to be literate to understand them.'”

— From “On Atonement: News outlets have apologized for past racism. That should only be the start.” by Alexandria Neason, Columbia Journalism Review (Jan. 28)