April 4, 2008 marks the fortieth anniversary of the assassination of the Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Memphis, Tennessee. These images were taken in Burlington, North Carolina at a tribute to Dr. King’s life held just days after Dr. King was killed. They come from the Edward J. McCauley (b.1926–d.2003) Photographic Collection, in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. McCauley was a photographer at the Burlington Times–News (newspaper) from 1949 to 1974. The image at the top of this entry appeared in the April 8, 1968 edition of the Times–News accompanying a story about the tribute/march held on April 7, 1968.
According to the article, over 300 people participated in the mile long march from First Baptist Church (on Apple Street) to City Hall, which was led by First Baptist’s Pastor, Dr. Harold J. Cobb. When he spoke to the group assembled at City Hall after the march, he began by saying “This is not a march on City Hall but a march to City Hall to awaken both colored and white and to say there will be no disorder here.” He went on to praise King’s message of equality and non–violence; closing his remarks by stating “We will and shall overcome.”
The Burlington Police monitored the march and blocked traffic to accommodate the large number of people involved. Due to the violence and rioting that erupted in many cities across the country as a result of Dr. King’s assassination, the Burlington Police prepared for the worst, and were relieved by the “orderly and reverent” manner of those involved in the tribute.
This isn’t a recent picture of Falls Lake using a black and white setting; this is what the Burlington City Lake/Reservoir looked like in September of 1953. North Carolina was suffering from a multiple year drought that lasted until the extremely active hurricane seasons of 1954 and 1955 provided some relief. 1953 was a year that saw minimal amounts of rainfall and set a record for the longest consecutive 90+ degree days in a row, a record that stood until this past summer. Let me introduce myself and explain how I came across these images. My name is Patrick Cullom and I was hired last year as a Visual Materials Archivist in the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives. The first collection with which I have been working is a series of approximately 100,000 images taken by Mr. Edward J. McCauley, a photographer for the Burlington Times-News (Burlington, North Carolina), from 1949-1974.
These are the front pages from the September 1-3, 1953 editions of the Burlington Times-News (McCauley took all images used, note image from above).
As I processed images taken in 1950-1953, I noticed that there were multiple images depicting low levels in reservoirs, public conservation campaigns, and construction of water treatment facilities. Since the images with which I work contain almost no descriptive data, except for a year, the Times-News microfilm has been of great assistance as a reference tool as I continue to work with this collection. As I skimmed the Times-News from 1950-1953, I couldn’t help noticing that many of the articles related to the drought document some of the same strains (growth of business and population) and proposed solutions (conservation, importing water, expansion/development of new water sources) being discussed today as the state deals with another exceptional drought.
This is an image documenting one of Burlington’s public campaigns from 1951, early in the 1950’s drought.