Category Archives: Civil Rights

NEW SCL DISPLAY!

Have you been by the Stone Center Library lately? If so, you’ve hopefully noticed our new display:

Our latest selection of recently acquired books features titles related to African Americans in American culture, in keeping with our recent event with UNC history professor “Fitz” Brundage:

All titles are available here at the library and we encourage you to come by and check them out. Happy reading, and have a great weekend!

Save the date: Tuesday, Nov. 1st @5pm, African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture

Save the date! On Tuesday, November 1st, UNC history professor Fitzhugh Brundage will deliver a lecture on the history of African Americans in American popular culture. The talk will will take place at 5:30pm in the Wilson Special Collections Library, with a reception at 5:00pm. This event is FREE  and open to the PUBLIC

Brundage is the editor of the UNC Press book Beyond Blackface: African Americans and the Creation of American Popular Culture, 1890-1930, a collection of essays from sixteen scholars in various disciplines that “address the complex roles of black performers, entrepreneurs, and consumers in American mass culture during the early twentieth century.” This book is currently available at Davis Library and the North Carolina Collection (library use only) – check for availability here.

Brundage is also the William Umstead Distinguished Professor of history at UNC, and his books include The Southern Past : A Clash of Race and Memory(2005), A Socialist Utopia in the New South: The Ruskin Colonies in Tennessee and Georgia, 1894-1901 (1996) and Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930.  (1993) 

In 2006, he was awarded the Lillian Smith Award from the Southern Regional Council and the Southern Historical Association’s Charles S. Sydnor Award for a distinguished book in southern history for The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory.

This event is sponsored by the Friends of the Library and the Stone Center Library for Black Culture & History. For more information, contact: Liza TerllFriends of the Library at (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu.

Hope to see you there!  


Opening TODAY @7pm: “The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany”

Opening TONIGHT at the Stone Center, this event is FREE and OPEN to the PUBLIC:

“The Civil Rights Struggle, African American GIs and Germany” exhibition will open at the Robert and Sallie Brown Gallery and Museum, Thursday, September 8, at 7pm.

“The exhibition, on display thru October 28, features photos, cartoons and political posters that tell an intriguing story of how American and German history became intertwined in the struggle for civil rights.

The exhibition was curated by Maria Hoehn, Professor of History at Vassar College and Dr. Martin Klimke, Research Fellow at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C.  This project expands the boundaries of the African American Freedom Struggle beyond the U.S. and depicts African American GIs as active participants in the victory over Nazism, the democratization of Germany after WWII, and in the advancement of civil rights in their own country and beyond.

The opening reception is set for 7pm on September 8 and is free and open to the public.   Professor Maria Hoehn will give a brief presentation at the reception.  Local representatives from the National Association of Black Veterans, Tuskegee Airmen, Montford Point Marines, and Buffalo Soldiers will attend the reception as special guests.”

More details about this exhibit are available HERE.

Interested in learning more? Come by the Stone Center Library and check out our latest display of related books. For example:

SCL Boredom-Buster #17: “The Help,” by Kathryn Stockett

Readers, you are in for a treat today! SCL Boredom-Buster #17 features a review by none other than Stone Center Librarian Shauna Collier, with a personal and lively discussion of best-selling novel The Help, by Kathryn Stockett. This book may be requested from UNC’s Davis Library or Undergraduate Library. Check out the review below:

At first, I wasn’t sure that I wanted to read the novel The Help.  It was one of my book club’s selections and although I admit I was a little intrigued when I saw it was set in my home state of Mississippi, I also noted that the setting was the 1960s;  a period when racism, hatred and extreme violence were sadly prevalent.  So when I first picked it up and read the premise I couldn’t help but groan and think, “here we go again.”  Don’t get me wrong, I am quite familiar with the events that unfortunately did happen during that time in the state and across the South (I remember some of them from my childhood), but I’m reluctant to read fiction that will downright depress me.  Boy, was I in for a surprise!  Author Kathryn Stockett does an excellent job of balancing the severity of the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi with a surprisingly uplifting tone that doesn’t distract from the seriousness of the time period.

The Help is about the complex relationships that existed at the time between White housewives and their African-American maids and just how complicated and silly the relationships and rules could be.  The novel does include some of the major events of the time, such as the death of Medgar Evers, and Stockett gives these real-life events a respectful treatment, while at the same time knowing when and where to adeptly inject humor. As a result I often found myself literally laughing out loud on several occasions, often before I could dry away tears.  In other words, I simply couldn’t put it down.

Part of the uplifting tone comes from the three main characters who take turns narrating the novel. Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan is a 22 year old recent graduate of Ole Miss who aspires to be a writer, at a time when women were expected to marry well and have babies. In my opinion she is the “co-hero” of the story, along with Abileen, one of the African American maids who finds the courage to help “Miss Skeeter” tell the story of the maids. Last but not least is Minny, one of the maids who is best described as “mouthy” but also quite hilarious.  Together these three women help start a movement of their own.

There are also a host of other characters who range from compassionate to ridiculous who help to tell this multilayered story that touched me in so many ways, and compelled me to write this very personal review of the novel.

However, there’s also another reason I wanted to put a personal stamp on this review. You may be aware that a film version of The Help is coming out on August 10th, but I learned of the movie being in production long before many others. How? Last year my mom called to tell me about a movie being filmed in my hometown near her job, where she had met a “nice gentleman.” This gentleman turned out to be Steven Spielberg himself, and the movie turned out to be… well, you guessed it. 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #13: “Nobody Called Me Charlie,” by Charles Preston

Good morning, y’all! Today’s Boredom-Buster is:

Nobody called me Charlie: the story of a radical white journalist writing for a Black newspaper in the Civil Rights era, by Charles Preston.

  • In the 1940s, at the height of segregation, Charles Preston became the unlikely newest worker at a black owned-and-operated newspaper. Preston, a white man and, unbeknownst to most of his colleagues, a member of the Communist Party, quickly came face to face with issues of race and injustice that would profoundly impact his life and change the way he understood United States society. This fictionalized account . . . takes on the central question of this nation’s history: can a truly human and humane society be built on a foundation of profound and pervasive racial inequality? Of course, the answer is no. Yet how do we make such a society? Or put another way, how must white people try to live their lives and how must they connect with their black brothers and sisters, personally and politically, to make a world in which the horrible scars of racism are healed once and for all? The answer that shines through Preston’s book–whether he is writing (and reporting) about work, local politics, the civil rights struggle, housing, education, entertainment,travel, sports, business, child-rearing, friendship, or intimate relationships–is that whites must do what he did: give up their whiteness. This is a book you will not forget.” (Source Syndetic Solutions)

Enjoy! And don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for our next pick! 🙂

SCL Boredom-Buster #11: “The pecan orchard: journey of a sharecropper’s daughter,” by Peggy Vonsherie Allen

This week the SCL Boredom-Busters series continues with summer reading recommendations in non-fiction, as a complement to the fiction and poetry titles we’ve highlighted thus far. Today’s pick is:

The pecan orchard: journey of a sharecropper’s daughter, by Peggy Vonsherie Allen.

  • “This is a true story of the struggle, survival, and ultimate success of a large black family in south Alabama who, in the middle decades of the 20th century, lifted themselves out of poverty to achieve the American dream of property ownership. Descended from slaves and sharecroppers in the Black Belt region, this family of hard-working parents and their thirteen children is mentored by its matriarch, Moa, the author’s beloved great grandmother, who passes on to the family, along with other cultural wealth, her recipe for moonshine. . . Told in clean, straightforward prose, the story radiates the suffocating midday heat of summertime cotton fields and the biting winter wind sifting through porous shanty walls. It conveys the implicit shame in “Colored Only” restrooms, drinking fountains, and eating areas; the beaming satisfaction of a job well done recognized by others; the “yessum” manners required of southern society; and the joyful moments, shared memories, and loving bonds that sustain-and even raise-a proud family.” (Source: Syndetic Solutions)

Happy reading! 🙂

New display at the Stone Center Library!

Come by the library and check out our newly updated display! Featuring recent acquisitions in literature, history, politics, women’s studies, and music. Selections include Young Mandela, Cooking in Other Women’s Kitchens, Terry McMillan’s Getting to Happy, and Jay-Z’s memoir, Decoded.

Juneteenth: An introduction & UNC resources

On June 19, 1865 – two years after the Emancipation Proclamation – Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, TX to enforce the previously declared abolition of slavery.

In recognition of this landmark event, Juneteenth was first established as a state holiday in Texas in 1980 and celebrates slavery’s end in the United States. Juneteenth is now celebrated in most states, including North Carolina, and it “celebrates African American freedom and achievement, while encouraging continuous self-development and respect for all cultures.”

Here at the Stone Center Library, we encourage you to learn more about this holiday, the events surrounding emancipation, and African-American celebrations in general by recommending a few books to get you started:

Interested in learning more? Don’t forget our Guide to the Web, which includes a list of resources on Emancipation and Reconstruction. Happy reading!

SCL Picks: Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities

This week, the Stone Center Library recommends yet another new arrival to our collection: Blackberries and Redbones: Critical Articulations of Black Hair/Body Politics in Africana Communities. This anthology seeks to respond to the following question: “As a text, how are Black bodies and Black hair read and understood in life, art, popular culture, mass media, or cross-cultural interactions?.”

With editors Regina E. Spellers and Kimberly R. Moffitt at the helm, Blackberries and Redbones is divided thematically into five areas:

  • Part I: Hair/Body Politics as Expression of the Life Cycle
  • Part II: Hair/Body as Power
  • Part III: Hair/Body in Art and Popular Culture
  • Part IV: Celebrations, Innovations, and Applications of Hair/Body Politics
  • Part V: Contradictions, Complications, and Complexities of Hair/Body Politics

An interdisciplinary mix of scholarly essays, poems, and other creative writing, each selection concludes with 2-3 discussion questions for further thought, making this a collection both academically rigorous and supremely accessible to the general public.

Writings include titles such as “From Air Jordan to Jumpman: The Black Male Body as Commodity” (Ingrid Banks); “Weaving Messages of Self-Esteem: Empowering Mothers and Daughters through Hair Braiding” (Tracey Y. Lewis-Elligan); “‘I am More than a Victim’: The Slave Woman Stereotype in Antebellum Narratives by Black Men” (Ellesia A. Blaque); “The Big Girl’s Chair: A Rhetorical Analysis of How Motions for Kids Markets Relaxers to African American Girls;” and “Sun Kissed or Sun Cursed?: Exploring Color Consciousness and Black Women’s Tanning Experiences” (Regina E. Spellers).

You can also check out their companion website www.blackberriesandredbones.com, which features a discussion board (registration required). Interested in learning more? Come by the library and check it out – Blackberries and Redbones is currently featured in our reading area display. Hope to see you soon!

SCL Picks: Call the Lost Dream Back (Essays on History, Race and Museums)

TGIF!  This week, the Stone Center Library recommends: Call The Lost Dream Back: Essays on History, Race and Museums (2010), written by Lonnie G. Bunch III and published by The AAM (American Association of Museums) Press.

“Lonnie G. Bunch, director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, is one of the museum profession’s leading writers and thinkers.  In this collection of his work from the mid-1980s to the present, including new chapters written for this book, Bunch presents a personal and passionate view of American history, ‘the Gordian knot’ of race relations, and the role of the museum in shaping the perspective of a nation.”

Essays include:

  • “Embracing Ambiguity: the Challenge of Interpreting African American History in Museums” (2005)
  • “Flies in the Buttermilk: Museums, Diversity, and the Will to Change” (2000)
  • “Curating the Recent Past: the Woolworth Lunch Counter, Greensboro, North Carolina” (1996)
  • “Embracing controversy: Museum Exhibitions and the Politics of Change” (1992)

All in all, this is an excellent collection for anyone interested in museum studies, the politics of representation, issues of collective memory, and the African American experience.  But don’t just take our word for it, here’s a sampling of what other reviewers have said….

“Lonnie Bunch is a national treasure. His collection of essays with the evocative title addresses a range of personal and professional issues dealing with history, race and the purpose of museums. Not only is the author an astute interpreter of episodes in our own nation’s history, but he is also an international traveler who takes the reader to Ghana, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and even the River Jordan. Bunch combines a lively and engaging writing style with a scholar’s sensibility to produce a must-read volume.” 
–Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States (2004-2008), visiting professor, University of Maryland

 “Call the Lost Dream Back is a powerful, thought-provoking journey through the life and professional career of a leading public historian. Lonnie Bunch’s essays are poignantly written and compel the reader to think in new and important ways about the power and possibilities of museums and history. The author reminds us of the importance of an open mind, sensitive observation, and the ability to embrace change for the continued evolution of both individuals and societies.” 
–Spencer R. Crew, Clarence J. Robinson Professor of American, African American and Public History, George Mason University

 “Lonnie Bunch’s moving experiences are told personally, yet convey universal values and lessons. As the founding CEO of the Japanese American National Museum for over 20 years, I believe that Call the Lost Dream Back captures the essence and importance of culturally-specific institutions. Its insights are a must-read for every museum professional and for all who are committed to a more inclusive America.” 
–Irene Hirano Inouye

Interested in learning more?  Check out the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture website.  You can also find more of Dr. Bunch’s writings online, such as this recent essay on museums and race.  Happy reading!

Summary and reviews from: The ALA Store.