Last year, NC Miscellany noted that despite its status as the largest African American managed financial institution in the United States, there was no Wikipedia article about the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company.
An article about the company has since been created, but it needs more work. And it’s just one of many weak areas in Wikipedia’s coverage of topics related to African American history in North Carolina.
On Sunday, March 30, the North Carolina Collection will host its second Wikipedia edit-a-thon, from 1:00 to 4:30.
Participants will create, expand, and improve Wikipedia articles about African American history, culture, people, events, and institutions in North Carolina. All are welcome — no special topical knowledge or Wikipedia experience is needed. Bring a laptop and we’ll help you do the rest!
In honor of Women’s History Month, the North Carolina Collection looks back at 1944 — which was an interesting year to be a woman at UNC.
Women’s enrollment numbers climbed while men left the classroom in unprecedented numbers to serve in the military. Women’s athletics flourished, with “coeds” playing soccer, volleyball, tennis, basketball, and badminton. And for the first time, UNC held what the 1944 yearbook, the Yackety Yack, calls a “unique ‘beauty’ dance,” in which thirty-two Carolina women vied for eight beauty queen titles.
They were complicated times to be sure. To offer a more personal window into coed life that year, we offer our March Artifacts of the Month: two charms that belonged to Jean Holmes Lochridge, Class of 1944.
The charms represent the Women’s Council and the University Club. According to the description accompanying her senior photo in the Yackety Yack, Lochridge was a member of both, in addition to the Alderman House Council, the Phi Assembly, the Executive Committee, the Senate, and the Intramural Volleyball and Badminton teams.
Lochridge’s daughter donated these charms to the NCC Gallery, and we’re honored to be charged with their stewardship. Not only are they a valuable reminder of the general student experience at UNC in 1944, but they also offer a unique slice of life from the perspective of one intriguing Carolina woman.
On this day in 1919: Professor Frederick Koch’s Carolina Playmakers debut with a trio of short plays in the Chapel Hill High School auditorium. Leading the bill: “The Return of Buck Gavin, A Tragedy of the Mountain People,” written by Thomas Wolfe, who also plays the part of Buck.
Among Prof Koch’s other notable early students: Paul Green, Jonathan Daniels and Frances Gray (Patton). By 1928 Brooks Atkinson of The New York Times will write that “what Professor Koch has accomplished, not only in Chapel Hill, but through the state, is nothing short of extraordinary.”
North Carolina Pulled pork Like Missouri’s barbecue ribs, pulled pork is cooked slowly on a grill. Like New Mexico’s carne adovada, pulled pork is fork-tender pork shoulder. Unlike either of those, North Carolina pulled pork is shredded by hand, doused with a vinegary sauce, and served with coleslaw. Pulled pork barbecue is an American treasure.
Now, I am aware that South Carolina also serves pulled pork. But South Carolina’s pulled pork is a mustard-based concoction, which pales in a side-by-side comparison with tangy, bracing North Carolina barbecue sauce.
On this day in 1966: University of North Carolina police prevent Herbert Aptheker, historian and member of the American Communist Party, from speaking on the Chapel Hill campus.
Aptheker first attempted to address students from the ledge of a campus landmark, the Confederate statue known as Silent Sam. Thwarted, he steps a few feet away, crosses a low stone wall onto town property and faces 2,000 students seated on the campus lawn. His speech proves less than incendiary; its main result is to focus national attention on the state’s 1963 Speaker Ban Law.
Legislators adopted the ban during a period of social unrest and at the height of the Cold War. Secretary of State Thad Eure drafted the law “to regulate visiting speakers at state-supported colleges and universities.” On the blacklist: any “known member of the Communist Party,” anyone who advocated the overthrow of the state or federal constitutions and anyone who had pleaded the Fifth Amendment about “subversive connections.”
In 1968 a federal court will declare the Speaker Ban Law unconstitutional.
On this day in 1974: Myrtle “Lulu Belle” Wiseman, twice voted America’s most popular female radio entertainer in the 1930s, is elected to the N.C. House.
Before retiring to Spruce Pine in 1958, she and her husband, Scotty, had performed for almost a quarter-century as the Hayloft Sweethearts on the “National Barn Dance” on Chicago’s WLS, hosted a daily TV show for eight years and made seven Hollywood movies.
The Wisemans wrote or co-wrote such classics as “Good Old Mountain Dew” (with Bascom Lamar Lunsford), “Remember Me” and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You?”
In her two terms in the legislature, Lulu Belle Wiseman will make her most dramatic impression when, arguing for the death penalty for rapists, she tells her stunned colleagues about her own rape 10 years earlier.
” ‘Southern whites,’ a Freedmen’s Bureau agent observed, ‘are quite indignant if they are not treated with the same deference that they were accustomed to’ under slavery, and behavior that departed from the etiquette of antebellum race relations frequently provoked violence….
“One North Carolina planter complained bitterly to a Union officer that a black soldier had ‘bowed to me and said good morning,’ insisting blacks must never address whites unless spoken to first.”