Category Archives: Civil Rights

A brief history of the “Wilmington Ten”

On Wednesday, we posted an upcoming event commemorating the Wilmington Ten.  But just who were the Wilmington Ten?

On February 6, 1971 racial tensions in downtown Wilmington, NC came to a head when several local businesses were set on fire.  Firemen responding to the call then came under attack, as shots were fired from the roof of the Gregory Congregational Church, which housed several students and protesters.  There were two deaths and several injuries over the next couple of days.  Based on evidence that was later called to question in court, ten individuals were convicted and sentenced: Benjamin Chavis, Connie Tindall, Marvin “Chili” Patrick, Wayne Moore, Reginald Epps, Jerry Jacobs, James “Bun” McKoy, Willie Earl Vereen, William “Joe” Wright, Jr, and Ann Shepard.

Coming to be known as the “Wilmington Ten,” their situation garnered international attention when Amnesty International took up their case 1976, believing them to be persecuted for their beliefs rather than proven ties to the events of February 1971.  Eventually, the conviction was overturned in 1980 and Benjamin Chavis, who at the time of his arrest was a minister and community organizer, went on to hold various positions of leadership within the African American civil rights community.  On Tuesday (6:30pm in the Stone Center Auditorium), Dr. Chavis will offer reflections on the lessons of the Wilmington Ten as part of a commemorative program hosted by UNC’s Institute of African American Research.

For more details on the history of the Wilmington Ten, check out this UNC Libraries blog post.  Interested in learning more about keynote speaker Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr?  Come browse our reference collection!  For example, the items below contain biographical sketches of his life and career:

Or if you’re looking for online resources, check out this biography published by The History Makers.  In addition, Dr. Chavis maintains a website, where he has posted an autobiography and you can find him on facebook.

Happy reading!

EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT: Commemorating the Wilmington 10, February 2nd at 6:30pm, Stone Center Auditorium

February marks the 40th anniversary of the events that led to the case of the Wilmington 10.  In commemoration, UNC’s Institute of African American Research is sponsoring a program next week featuring several members of the Wilmington 10, including a keynote address by Dr. Benjamin Chavis, Jr.



Feb 2, 2011

6:30 pm

UNC Stone Center Auditorium


Wilmington 10 Program

Hope to see you there!

Opening this FRIDAY: “To Buy The Sun: The Challenge of Pauli Murray”

This Friday, the Pauli Murray Project’s Centennial Celebration continues, with the inauguration of “To Buy The Sun: The Challenge of Pauli Murray,” a play about the life and legacy of this trailblazing Durham native.  The play is written by Lynden Harris, directed by Kathryn Hunter-Williams and features Chaunesti Webb Lyon and Brie Nash.

“Fifteen years before Rosa Parks refused to stand, Pauli Murray refused to sit in the back of the bus; 20 years before the Greensboro sit-ins, she organized restaurant sit-downs in the nation’s capital.  Durham native Pauli Murray not only lived on the edge of history, she seemingly “pulled it along with her.”  One hundred twenty-three years after her enslaved grandmother was baptized at Chapel of the Cross Episcopal Church in Chapel Hill, Pauli Murray returned as America’s first female African-American Episcopal priest to celebrate her groundbreaking Eucharist there.  A lifelong champion for human rights, Pauli Murray’s struggles and insights resonate powerfully in our times.  Celebrate her history; create our future.”


  • January 28-30, 2011 (DURHAM)
  • February 4-5, 2011 (CARRBORO)
  • February 13, 2011 (CHAPEL HILL)
  • February 18, 2011 (HILLSBOROUGH)

Tickets are $10 and information on purchasing for each venue is available here.  For Performance Sponsorships and Group Tickets, contact: Barbara Lau at 919/613-6167 or

This project is supported by grants from the Paul Green Foundation and a mini grant from Imagine Durham: Durham’s Results Based Accountability Initiative (

MLK Jr Day 2011: Stone Center Library Resources

This Monday, we celebrate the life and legacy of a seminal figure of the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, a tireless champion of nonviolence and social justice whose efforts made him – at age 35 – the youngest recipient of a Nobel Peace Prize (1964).

If UNC’s MLK Jr Birthday Celebration activities next week leave you curious for further information, be sure to check out some of the holdings here at The Stone Center Library

Questions?  Contact us!  You can also find us on chat – our buddy name is: StonecenterRef.  Happy reading, and stay warm! 🙂

MLK Jr Day 2011: UNC events

Martin Luther King Jr Day is just around the corner!  This Monday evening, the Stone Center & the Carolina Black Caucus will be co-sponsoring the annual “He Was a Poem, He Was a Song” event, which explores Martin Luther King, Jr.’s legacy through music, poetry and spoken word.  FREE AND OPEN TO ALL.  For more info, click here.

This program is also part of UNC-Chapel Hill’s MLK Jr Birthday Celebration, outlined below.  Unless otherwise noted, all events are free and open to the public, but some events require registration. For more information, contact UNC-Chapel Hill Diversity and Multicultural Affairs at (919) 962-6962 or by email (

Monday, January 17
Day for Service
MLK Youth Leadership Program
Rally, March, and Service
Unity Dinner
He Was a Poem, He Was a Song

Tuesday, January 18
Kappa Omicron chapter of Delta sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.’s Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Oratorical contest

Wednesday, January 19
Candlelight Vigil
30th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Lecture: Soledad O’Brien
Presentation of the 28th Annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship

Thursday, January 20
Lessons from Little Rock
MLK, Today: Aid and Development in Central and East Africa

Friday, January 21
Lessons from Little Rock
“I, Too, Sing America”

Hope to see you there!  And stay tuned… coming tomorrow: a list of related resources available here at the library.

Know your civil rights history: resources at the Stone Center Library

Today marks the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her bus seat to a white passenger.  Her eventual arrest set in motion the Montgomery Bus Boycott, and her lifetime of social activism marks her as a pioneer of the Civil Rights Movement.  For more insight into this important and complex period of U.S. history, we encourage our readers to come by the Stone Center Library and take advantage of our holdings as UNC’s Library for Black Culture & History. Here are a few titles to get things started:

And don’t forget, we’re always happy to provide reference help in person, or online via email or chat (our buddy name is: stonecenterref).  Best of luck!

TOMORROW: “Tell About the South”, talk by UNC Park Fellow Lorraine Ahearn

For interested faculty and graduate students, UNC’s School of Journalism & Mass Communication is hosting an interesting talk taking place TOMORROW at NOON dealing with little-known details about NC’s Civil Rights history.


“Tell About the South” with Lorraine Ahearn, doctoral Park Fellow at the UNC School of Journalism & Mass Communication
Wednesday, December 01 2010
Open to graduate students & faculty.  Lunch will be served.  Seating is limited so please RSVP ASAP to 962-5665 or

“In 1937, students from Bennett College for Women organized a boycott of white movie theaters in Greensboro, N.C., over Jim Crow-era censorship. Local theater owners were cutting movie scenes in which black actors played “non-traditional” roles that crossed the color line of segregation. What ensued was a media conflict on two fronts. First, white theater owners censored what they believed violated local custom, while African-American students organized the community to apply economic pressure for change.  On the second front, black newspapers including the Chicago Defender offered a narrative that clashed with the version the city’s white-owned newspaper told about the theater owners’ action. Ahearn’s research looks at the role of mass media imagery in early civil rights history, and how the two newspapers framed this incident in history.”

The full event announcement is available here.

Opening TODAY: “Strength from All My Roots: Textiles Honoring the Legacy of Pauli Murray”

If you attended the panel a couple of weeks ago on Pauli Murray‘s “wrestling with change in the Jim Crow South“, don’t forget that the Pauli Murray Project is coordinating several other events as part of their Pauli Murray Centennial Celebration.

Opening TODAY in Durham is the art exhibition “Strength from All My Roots: Textiles Honoring the Legacy of Pauli Murray,” with a reception from 6-9pm.  Even if you can’t make it out tonight, keep in mind the exhibit will remain throughout the end of the month.

“Strength from All My Roots: Textiles Honoring the Legacy of Pauli Murray”
Reception: November 19, 6-9 pm
Exhibit Ongoing throughout November
St. Phillip’s Episcopal Church – 403 East Main St., Durham
Sponsored by the Resource Center for Women in Ministry in the South

For further information, see:

And if you can’t make it, be sure to check out the Herald Sun’s piece about the exhibit here, which includes some pictures.

New online exhibit: 43rd Anniversary of Black Student Movement at Carolina

The Carolina Digital Library and Archives has published a new virtual exhibit, which chronicles the history of the Black Student Movement at Carolina.  Check it out here:  The Black Student Movement at Carolina marks its 43rd anniversary this November, making this a timely opportunity to get to know your UNC history.

This exhibit was a cooperative effort between Wilson Library, the CDLA, and the Center for the Study of the American South.  You can also keep up with the CDLA on Facebook, where they have posted a note about the exhibit as well.  Happy reading!

WEDNESDAY: “Pauli Murray v. UNC: Wrestling with Change in the Jim Crow South”

As part of the Pauli Murray Centennial Celebration initiated by Duke University’s Human Rights Center, UNC will be hosting the panel discussion “Pauli Murray v. UNC: Wrestling with Change in the Jim Crow South”, which highlights Murray’s attempts to gain admittance for graduate work at UNC in 1938-39.  This is an event that aims “to teach the university community about this history and to encourage reflection on the story of Murray’s activism: what kind of example does she offer in our own time?”

Event Information:

Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2010
5:15 p.m. reception | 6 p.m. program

Wilson Special Collections Library, Pleasants Family Assembly Room


Contact Information: Center for the Study of the American South, (919) 962-4433

Genna Rae McNeil, professor of history at UNC-Chapel Hill, will moderate the panel discussion, which includes the following participants:

The event will also feature a small exhibit of archival materials from the Southern Historical Collection in UNC’s Wilson Special Collections Library highlighting this historical moment.

Sponsored by UNC’s Center for the Study of the American South, the Southern Historical Collection, The Pauli Murray Project/Duke Human Rights Center, the Carolina Women’s Center, the UNC School of Information and Library Science (grad student assistance), and the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History at UNC (organizational and in-kind assistance).

Interested in learning more about the panelists?  Check out some of their books available at UNC libraries:

Hope to see you there!