Lumbee students protest busing out of county

On this day in 1960: Denied admission to white Dunn High School, seven Lumbee Indian students, along with several parents, stage a sit-in and are charged with trespassing.

A few N.C. counties operate separate school systems for whites, blacks and Indians. But Harnett County has no high school for Indians and instead buses them to East Carolina Indian Institute in Sampson County, a daily round-trip of 70 miles.

When it becomes clear that the Lumbees’ protest has failed, the American Friends Service Committee arranges for 11 of them to live with families and attend high schools in Raleigh, Greensboro and High Point.

Among contributors to their expense fund: Eleanor Roosevelt.

The next fall the Harnett County school board gives in and admits Lumbees to Dunn High.


Charlotte’s ‘cock-fight might better have been omitted’

Harper’s Weekly sent a correspondent and an artist to cover the 1875 centennial celebration of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence. Although it admitted skepticism about the document’s authenticity, Harper’s devoted a full page to the ambitious program of speeches, fireworks and banquets staged by the town of perhaps 5,000.

“The people are exhibiting an enterprise that will in time make Charlotte a centre of considerable trade and manufacture,” the paper astutely predicted.

It voiced less enthusiasm, however, for “one of the side-diversions of the day… a grand cock-fight between North Carolina and South Carolina birds which might better have been omitted from the programme.”


This time, blaming black for crime didn’t work

“It is unknown how many white men committed crimes for which mobs lynched African American men, but occasionally the community caught the white culprit. In Raleigh, North Carolina, Charles E. Davis, a ‘prominent Wake County farmer,’ claimed in 1920 that an unidentified black man had murdered his wife. After authorities began to doubt his story that a ‘lecherous looking black’ had killed her, they arrested Davis for killing his wife, and he hung himself in the county jail.”

— From “Raising Racists: The Socialization of White Children in the Jim Crow South” by Kristina DuRocher (2011)

It wasn’t just Carolina in James Taylor’s mind

“When [James] Taylor was three, in 1951, his family — led by his father, Isaac, a doctor educated in Boston, and his mother, Trudy — had returned to the state where Isaac was born, North Carolina. Isaac had accepted a job as an assistant professor at the University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

“On the surface, their new home in Chapel Hill was idyllic: eight rooms, 25 acres, a hammock in the backyard. Music was everywhere. An upright piano took up residence in the living room; in the kitchen, the Taylor kids — oldest brother Alex, followed by James, Livingston, Hugh, and Kate — would pull out cans from the cupboards and break spontaneously into the jingles for each product. The chil­dren would sing sea shanties, Woody Guthrie songs and sing-along favorites like ‘On Top of Old Smoky’ …  James took cello lessons, briefly played in Chapel Hill’s first Young People’s Orchestra and performed once with the North Carolina Symphony, playing the ballad ‘Blue Bells of Scotland’….

“The sense that they were in the South but ‘of the North,’ as James recalled, led him to feel isolated early; summers in Massachusetts only intensified those feelings.

“Even a hundred years after the Civil War, Taylor felt in his bones the difference between Southerners and, he re­called, ‘Yankees and outsiders,’ and he was caught between them.”

— From “Fire and Rain: The Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor, CSNY, and the Lost Story of 1970” by David Browne (2012) Hat tip, delanceyplacecom

Taylor is scheduled for two performances during Democratic National Convention week, the latter as President Obama’s warmup act at Bank of America Stadium.

‘Loco-Motion’ took Eva Narcissus Boyd to the top

On this day in 1962: Little Eva’s “The Loco-Motion” hits No. 1 on the charts, and doing the Loco-Motion becomes the latest dance fad.

Eva Narcissus Boyd was born about 1945 in Belhaven. She had moved to New York to get into music but was working as a babysitter for songwriters Carole King and Gerry Goffin when she got her big break — a chance to do a demo tape of her employers’ latest composition. The record’s fast rise catches all by surprise, and Little Eva has to improvise a dance to go with the record.

Little Eva’s stardom will prove short-lived. In 1971, broke, she returns to Belhaven, suffers depression, goes on welfare, waits on tables. In 1987, she tells People magazine, “I don’t loco-mote no more” — but her rediscovery results in her going full-time on the oldies concert circuit.

She will die of cancer in Kinston in 2003.


Gallery event: The Carolina Parakeet and Relatives


Next Wednesday, August 29, the North Carolina Collection Gallery will host two experts from the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences to talk about the Carolina Parakeet. The program is associated with the Gallery exhibit, “The Carolina Parakeet in Art: Images from the Powell Collection.” Details on the event are as follows:

The Carolina Paraket and Relatives: A Look at Some Natural, Un-natural, and Cultural Histories

How much do we know about the Carolina Parakeet? Very little, as it turns out. John Gerwin and Brian O’Shea of the NC Museum of Natural Sciences will describe what is known and not known about this extinct bird, and talk about some of the early explorers who had personal experiences with the Parakeet. They will also share some natural history highlights of related species and conservation stories of select, endangered parrots in the U.S. and abroad.

5:15 p.m.: Reception and viewing of exhibit, North Carolina Collection Gallery

5:45 p.m.: Program, Pleasants Family Assembly Room, Wilson Library

‘Flames licking up tall trunks was striking and beautiful’

“For some of Sherman’s men, like Daniel Oakey, scenes of burning forests verged on the sublime. Describing the army’s advance into ‘the wild regions of North Carolina,’ he wrote,

” ‘The resin pits were on fire, and great columns of black smoke rose high into the air, spreading and mingling together in gray clouds, and suggesting the roof and pillars of a vast temple. All traces of habitation were left behind, as we marched into the grand forest with its beautiful carpet of pine-needles….

” ‘As night came on, we found that the resinous sap in the cavities cut in the trees to receive it had been lighted by “bummers” in our advance. The effect of these peculiar watch-fires on every side, several feet above the ground, with flames licking their way up the tall trunks, was…  striking and beautiful.’

“Despite the scene’s allure, however, Oakey concluded that the ‘wanton’ destruction was ‘sad to see’….”

— From “War Upon the Land: Military Strategy and the Transformation of Southern Landscapes During the American Civil War” by Lisa M. Brady (2012)


Women urged to ‘deal death blow to King Alcohol’

“Dear Sisters: Constrained by the love we bear to our children, brothers, lovers, husbands, and for whose sake we wish to unite our influence, to save them from the terrible evils of Intemperance, we invite you to come out to the election at Flint Ridge, on the first Thursday in August [1881], so that, by our presence, we may encourage those we love to deal a death blow to King Alcohol, and free us from the misery, woe, wretchedness and ruin, caused by this demon, that ‘biteth like a serpent and stingeth like an adder.’ ”

— From a broadside inviting women, still almost 40 years from being able to vote, to bring their persuasion to bear at a Chatham County polling place for a referendum on prohibition.  (King Alcohol avoided a statewide ban by a margin of more than 3 to 1.)


Charlotte’s appeal to teams: ‘absence of temptation’

Despite its less-than-tropical Aprils, turn-of-the-century Charlotte provided spring training for at least two National League baseball teams.

After the Philadelphia Phillies trained there in 1899, Sporting Life magazine noted that “the place offers so many natural advantages for such work and there is such an absence of temptation in that inland city that Manager [William] Shettsline thinks the Quaker team could not do better than return to the Queen City.”

The Brooklyn Dodgers followed in 1901. “They have already learned that if they signal a street car between blocks and want to get on it, they have to race for it,” the Observer noted after the team’s first day in town. “And that is about as good as running bases.”

The Dodgers capped their week-long stay at Latta Park with a 30-13 exhibition victory over Raleigh of the Carolina-Virginia Inter-State League. Brooklyn right fielder “Wee Willie” Keeler, a future Hall of Famer, managed only a single in six at-bats.