“In September 1923, a white woman in Mitchell County, in the mountains of western North Carolina, reported that she had been raped by a black man.
“Within hours, a white mob began rounding up black residents. Drinking whiskey and carrying guns, the mob marched their hostages to the train depot, stopped a southbound train and loaded them onto the railcars.
“Nearly a century after the ethnic cleansing, Mitchell County remains one of the whitest counties in the state…. Close to 80 percent of voters supported Donald Trump in the 2016 election….
“All of which makes it more striking that Mitchell County and its neighbor, Yancey County, are home to a large, thriving branch of the NAACP. Formed in 2013, the Yancey/Mitchell County NAACP branch has around 140 members. Virtually all are white.”
— From “This North Carolina County Has a Thriving Branch of the NAACP—and It’s Mostly White” by Michael Schulson in The Nation (Oct. 31)
Mitchell County has been listed as a probable “sundown town.”
“[In 1958 in Monroe, North Carolina] two Negro boys aged seven and nine were playing house with a group of white kids their age…. One of the white girls and one of the Negro boys kissed. The little girl told her parents. Joined by his neighbors, the girl’s father went looking for the boy and his family with a gun. Both boys were arrested and sent to reform school indefinitely. As head of the local chapter of the NAACP, Robert Williams… called in the national office. There followed a classic case of alienation between the Negro middle class and the Negro poor….
“Since the boys were deemed illegitimate, the national office had reservations about involvement in their case, feeling that the boys’ families just weren’t the type of Negroes to shine a national limelight on….
“But an English reporter got wind of the case and decided to visit the boys in reform school. She brought along their mothers, and the photo of their reunion was shown in newspapers around the world. Demonstrations in support of the boys were held in Paris, Rome, Vienna and Rotterdam. … Fifteen thousand signatures demanding their release were… sent to President Eisenhower and [Gov. Luther Hodges]. The boys were released on February 13, 1959.”
— From “Shadow of the Panther: Huey Newton and the Price of Black Power in America” by Hugh Pearson (1994)