Category Archives: Civil Rights

Looking Back for Black History Month

by Sarah Guy, Research Assistant

The Sonja Haynes Stone Center Library for Black Culture and History first opened its doors on September 7, 2004, but its history can be traced back many years prior. The library’s namesake, Sonja Haynes Stone, served as the director of UNC’s Curriculum for Afro-American Studies from 1974 until 1979; she then continued as a professor until her unexpected passing on August 10, 1991. Stone won multiple awards during her time as a professor, including the Black Student Movement Faculty Award from one of the organizations that she advised, and she also served on numerous committees as a faculty member.  

One committee that Stone served on was the Black Cultural Center planning committee, which advocated for a center for black culture on campus.  In 1988, the committee’s planning came to fruition when the Black Cultural Center was established at UNC, housed in the Franklin Porter Graham Student Union. After Stone’s death in 1991, the BCC was renamed the Sonja Haynes Stone Black Cultural Center. Soon after, students began a campaign to provide the growing center with a stand-alone building to accommodate its work and programming.  

In the summer of 1992, four African American football players founded the Black Awareness Council (BAC),  aimed at improving the treatment of African Americans on campus by several means, including the construction of a free-standing Black Cultural Center. The creation of the BAC  helped spark one of the largest student movements in the university’s history, which was chronicled by many newspapers, including the student-run Daily Tar Heel  and Black Ink. Student organizations were actively protesting Chancellor Paul Hardin’s lack of support for the Black Cultural Center outside of South Building as early as March 1992.  

A digitized Daily Tar Heel front page from September 9, 1992, with headline "BCC supporters give Hardin ultimatum"

The front page of the Daily Tar Heel on September 11, 1992 detailed the march to the Chancellor’s office in South Building. Articles and documents related to the Black Awareness Council can be found in the Wilson Library Special Collections.

The protests and rallies became more frequent, however, during the 1992-1993 school year, particularly with the activity of the BAC. On the night of September 3, 1992, 300 students marched from campus to the residence of Chancellor Paul Hardin to give him a list of demands, but he wasn’t at home. A week later, students marched from the Student Stores to the chancellor’s on-campus office and delivered their letter with their demands, which included an ultimatum demanding that he take action by November 13.  

On September 17, 1992, filmmaker and activist Spike Lee visited the Dean Smith Center and spoke at a rally of 5,000 people. In response to these events and the students’ ultimatum, Chancellor Hardin endorsed a free-standing center in a press conference on October 15, 1992.  

A digitized September 1992 article from the Daily Tar Heel with the headline "About 5,000 rally in support of free standing BCC"

Another Daily Tar Heel article covered the rally at the Dean Smith Center.

The UNC Board of Trustees approved the building of a free-standing center almost eight months after the Chancellor’s endorsement on July 23, 1993. Although the proposal for the center listed an open tract of land near Wilson Library and Dey Hall as their preferred location, the Board of Trustees said that it would be better placed at one of the alternate locations across from Coker Hall.  

Among the original plans for facilities to be housed in the Stone Center were a dance studio, an auditorium, and a library. The library was originally conceived as a non-circulating, browsing collection, which would be open for anyone to read its materials but not to check them out. However, by the time the building opened its doors in 2004, librarians in Davis had been developing the Stone Center Library’s collections for months, and it opened as the newest branch of UNC Libraries. The collection has grown from around 6,000 books to nearly 12,000 volumes over the course of almost 15 years.    

A page from the plan for the Stone Center

This page from the architecture firm’s proposal lists the plan for the library to go in the Stone Center.

Currently, the Stone Center Library’s shelves are near capacity, filled with books covering a wide range of topics, from encyclopedias of black culture to the works of African American historians and great works of African American literature. As part of the Stone Center, the library seeks to further its mission to serve the population of UNC-Chapel Hill with information about African, African American, and African Diaspora Studies. The Stone Center Library would be unable to accomplish that goal without the untiring efforts of people like Sonja Haynes Stone and the students who many years ago fought for the existence of a center for black culture.  

 

 

IAAR Brown Bag – “The Voter Education Project and the Financing of the Black Freedom Movement: The Case of Monroe, Louisiana, 1963-1966”

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of African American Research (IAAR) begins its 2015-2016 series of graduate student brown bag lectures with a presentation by Evan Faulkenbury, PhD candidate in the UNC-CH Department of History.  The talk will be held on Monday, September 21, 2015 at 12:00pm in Room 309C of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.

Faulkenbury’s talk is titled “The Voter Education Project and the Financing of the Black Freedom Movement: The Case of Monroe, Louisiana, 1963-1966” and all are welcome to attend.

The Stone Center Library staff has prepared a bibliography to accompany this lecture, the PDF of which can be found here.

IAAR Brown Bag – “Student Perspectives on Resegregation in NC Public Schools”

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of African American Research (IAAR) wraps up their spring 2015 series of brown bag lectures with a presentation by Shelby Dawkins-Law, UNC School of Education, titled “Student Perspectives on Resegregation in NC Public Schools”.

The talk will be held on Monday, April 13 2015 at 12:00pm in Room 309C of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.

The Stone Center Library staff has prepared a bibliography to accompany this lecture, the PDF of which can be found here.

2015 UNC-CH African American History Month lecture – Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad

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Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad will deliver the 11th Annual African American History Month Lecture on February 17, 2015, in the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Auditorium.

In addition to being the Director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Research and a sought-after speaker, Dr. Muhammad has published extensively, including his book The Condemnation of Blackness: race, crime, and the making of modern urban America, and several articles. Links to published articles, audio, and video interviews are included below.

ARTICLES
Muhammad, Khalil G. “White may be might, but it’s Not always Right.” The Washington Post Dec 09 2007. ProQuest. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
Muhammad, Khalil G. “”Negro Stranger in our Midst”: Origins of African American Criminality in the Urban North, 1900–1940.” Order No. 3117624 Rutgers The State University of New Jersey – New Brunswick, 2004. Ann Arbor: ProQuest. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
Muhammad, Khalil Gibran. “Where did all the White Criminals Go? Reconfiguring Race and Crime on the Road to Mass Incarceration.” Souls 13.1 (2011): 72-90. ProQuest. 14 Jan. 2015.
Muhammad, Khalil G. “Playing the Violence Card.” New York Times Apr 06 2012, Late Edition (East Coast) ed. ProQuest. 14 Jan. 2015.

VIDEO INTERVIEWS
Tavis Smiley Interview: Incoming director of the city’s famed Schomburg Center
The Root Interview: The Schomburg’s Khalil Gibran Muhammad
New York Times: Historian Will Direct Schomburg Center in Harlem
Moyers and Company: Confronting the Contradictions of America’s Past Jun 29 2012 (Video

AUDIO INTERVIEWS
Lake Effect’s Mitch Teich interviews author Khalil Gibran Muhammad on his book “The Condemnation of Blackness.”

 

IAAR Brown Bag – “Brazilian Quilombos: Historical & Contemporary Struggles”

The UNC-Chapel Hill Institute of African American Research (IAAR) will be holding the first in their spring 2015 series of brown bag lectures –  “Brazilian Quilombos: Historical & Contemporary Struggles” presented by Adam Bledsoe, UNC-CH Department of Geography – on January 12, 2015 at 12:00pm in Room 309C of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center.

The Stone Center Library staff has prepared a bibliography to accompany this lecture, the PDF of which can be found here.

 

SCL Picks: Oscars Edition

The 84th annual Academy Awards will take place this Sunday and among this year’s contenders is The Help, which has been nominated for four awards, including nods for Viola Davis (Best Actress) and Octavia Spencer (Best Supporting Actress). This film takes place in 1960s Mississippi and chronicles the intersecting lives of white women and their African-American maids against the backdrop of major social upheaval nationwide. Of course, before it was an Oscar-nominated film, The Help was a best-selling book, as reviewed by Stone Center Librarian Shauna Collier in a previous SCL blog post, and available here at the Library.

Interested in learning more about African Americans and the film industry? Here, in no particular order, are ten titles to get you started:

The books listed above are but a sampling of related items available here at the Stone Center Library. Come by and check us out!

Black History Month Profile: James Weldon Johnson (1831-1938)

First performed publicly in February of 1900, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” was composed by brothers James Weldon (text) and J. Rosamand Johnson (music). Originally conceived as a poem to commemorate Lincoln’s birthday, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” as a musical work has become a powerful symbol of the U.S. Civil Rights movement. Termed “the Black National Anthem” by some, this song also inspired a short-lived sculpture (“The Harp”) commissioned for the 1939 New York World’s Fair and created by Augusta Savage Jefferson. Given its cultural significance, and in honor of Black History Month, here at the Library we thought we would briefly spotlight the poet, educator, and activist behind the poem: James Weldon Johnson.

James Weldon Johnson (1831-1938) was born in Jacksonville, FL and went on to attend Atlanta University. The son of a schoolteacher, he returned to his alma mater Stanton Elementary School as principal. Concurrently, he purused legal studies and became the first African-American to pass the bar exam in the state of Florida. In addition to his significant contribution to the fields of education and law, Johnson was a prolific writer of poems, song texts, and fiction such as The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Active in the political arena as well, in 1920 he was appointed executive secretary of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), which ultimately adopted “Lift Every Voice and Sing” as its official song.

For a sampling James Weldon Johnson’s poetry available here at the Library, we recommend checking out:

For more on the artwork inspired by “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” consider this book, also available here at the Library:

And for a full list of books authored by James Weldon Johnson and available here at the SCL, check out the following list in the online catalog. Happy reading!

Sources consulted:

SCL Pick: “The Curse of Caste, or, the Slave Bride: a rediscovered African American novel”

Today marks the anniversary of the start of the Greensboro sit-ins in 1960 (and we encourage you to take a look at last year’s blog post about the history of the movement here).

Today also marks the start of Black History Month 2012, which was founded by the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH). This year’s theme is “Black Women in American Culture and History” and the ASALH has kindly prepared a summary of this topic which is available here.

Here at the Stone Center Library, we thought we’d jump-start this month with a little-known gem in our collection:

The Curse of Caste,or, the Slave Bride: a rediscovered African American novel, by Julia C. Collins

Considered “the first novel by an African American woman,” it takes place in antebellum Louisiana and Connecticut “and focuses on the lives of a beautiful mixed-race mother and daughter whose opportunities for fulfillment through love and marriage are threatened by slavery and caste prejudice.”

Take a look at the full summary here, or come by the library and check it out!

SCL Picks: MLK Day Edition!

Happy MLK Day, everyone! In commemoration of this day of service and reflection, here’s a quick list of recent books related to the path-breaking Martin Luther King Jr. All titles are available here at the Stone Center Library and we encourage you to come by and check them out!

All Labor Has Dignity: “An unprecedented and timely collection of Dr. King’s speeches on labor rights and economic justice”

Behind the dream : the making of the speech that transformed a nation: “a thrilling, behind-the-scenes account of the weeks leading up to the great event, as told by Clarence Jones, a co-writer of the speech and close confidant to King himself.”

Burial for a King : Martin Luther King Jr.’s funeral and the week that transformed Atlanta and rocked the nation: “Compelling and original, Burial for a King captures a defining moment in America’s history. It encapsulates King’s legacy, America’s shifting attitude toward race, and the emergence of Atlanta as a new kind of Southern city.”

Interested in U.S. Civil Rights more generally? Check out these recent SCL acquisitions:

For even more resources available here at the Library, take a look at last year’s MLK Day post, as well as the Civil Rights section of the Stone Center Library’s Guide to the Web. Happy reading!

UNC Chapel Hill 2012 Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

Reposted from UNC’s office of Diversity and Multicultural Affairs, here’s a listing of activities taking place on campus next week in celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday. 

Join us at Carolina for a week of cooperatively planned events to commemorate the ideals of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public. For more information, contact UNC-Chapel Hill Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at (919) 962-6962 or by email.

Click on a date in the list below to see details, times, and locations for all events.

2012 UNC-Chapel Hill MLK Celebration Schedule

SUNDAY, JANUARY 15

TWENTY SEVENTH ANNUAL UNIVERSITY/COMMUNITY MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. MEMORIAL BANQUET

MONDAY, JANUARY 16

DAY FOR SERVICE
MLK YOUTH LEADERSHIP PROGRAM
RALLY, MARCH, SERVICE
UNITY DINNER
HE WAS A POEM, HE WAS A SONG

TUESDAY, JANUARY 17

CANDLELIGHT VIGIL

WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 18

KAPPA OMICRON CHAPTER OF DELTA SIGMA THETA SORORITY, INC.’S ANNUAL MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. ORATORICAL CONTEST

THURSDAY, JANUARY 19

QUIZ BOWL
POPULAR MOVEMENTS: A PANEL DISCUSSION

FRIDAY, JANUARY 20

SCREENING AND DISCUSSION OF DOCUMENTART “PRECIOUS KNOWLEDGE”
“I, TOO, SING AMERICA”