Sixty years ago, local high school students and community members led a series of marches and demonstrations in downtown Chapel Hill in protest of racial segregation in local businesses. The Wilson Library digital production staff has recently completed digitization of five color photos showing Civil Rights marches on Franklin Street in 1963.
The University of North Carolina enforced racial segregation in campus buildings well into the mid 20th century. There is clear evidence of this in documents, publications, and in the recollections of people who studied and worked at Carolina. However, photographs of segregated spaces at UNC are often hard to find. Recently we found a couple of photos from the UNC Photo Lab collection that provide clear evidence of how public spaces on campus continued to be segregated by race into the 1950s.
These photos are from a series taken by university photographers to publicize the opening of the new dental school building at Carolina. The new dental building (now known as “First Dental”) was a significant milestone in dental education and service at Carolina — in addition to teaching and learning facilities, the new building marked the beginning of patient services offered by the School of Dentistry. Dentistry faculty and students offered clinical services to patients from the local community and across North Carolina. A memo about the opening of the new building states: “There are separate, complete facilities for white and for Negro patients.” (Records of UNC President Gordon Gray, collection 4008, folder 383). The description of separate facilities was repeated in a Daily Tar Heel story about the dental building in December 1952.
The note about facilities for Black patients was intentional. The University clearly wanted to highlight the fact that it would be offering dental services to Black patients who might otherwise rightly have assumed that they would not be admitted to medical facilities at Carolina. However, the announcement was also clear to specify that the spaces would be segregated by race.
The publicity photos also included two showing patients in the separate waiting rooms. It’s hard to tell whether or not these photos represent typical conditions in the waiting rooms, but the differences are striking. The waiting room for white patients is spacious and shows just two people waiting. The waiting room for Black patients is significantly more crowded, with every seat full and one of the patients having to stand.
It is noteworthy that the University established segregated patient spaces in 1952, just over a year after UNC was forced to begin admitting Black students to graduate programs. In the summer of 1951, Black students entered Carolina for the first time, enrolling in the School of Law, the College of Arts and Sciences, and the School of Medicine, which was adjacent to the new dental building.
It’s not clear, at least from our initial research, how long the facility continued to operate separate waiting rooms for Black and white patients. When local high school students began challenging segregated businesses in Chapel Hill in February 1960, the protests soon spread to UNC buildings. In April 1963, the UNC chapter of the NAACP picketed North Carolina Memorial Hospital in protest of continued racial segregation of some hospital patients. Most likely racial segregation in the hospital and dental facilities continued in some form until the passage of the federal Civil Rights Act in 1964.
In the 1980s, UNC-Chapel Hill students organized to protest on-campus recruiting by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). Citing the CIA’s involvement in conflicts in Central America and the Middle East and drawing attention to the agency’s increased role under President Ronald Regan, student protesters objected to the presence of CIA recruiters on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus. Carolina students led anti-CIA protests as early as 1983, and the movement gained significant momentum when the student-run CIA Action Committee (CIAAC) led several protests between 1987 and 1989. The photos shown in this post are from the Durham Herald Co. Newspaper Photograph Collection in Wilson Library.
Timeline of Anti-CIA Protests at UNC-Chapel Hill
October 29 1987: Six members of the CIAAC were arrested during a protest in Hanes Hall. Graham Entwistle, Keith Griffler, Dale McKinley, Joey Templeton, Mary Lisa Pories, and Katherine Taaffe (the only non-student) chained themselves together in order to block the entrance to Hanes Hall where CIA interviews were being held. These activists were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct, but the judge in the case did not pursue criminal charges against any of the members. Daily Tar Heel, October 30, 1987.
February 24, 1988: Members of the CIAAC went to the University Inn where a CIA recruiter was holding interviews and protested outside his door. The recruiter left Chapel Hill without conducting interviews after CIAAC members followed him down Interstate 40 making sure he did not enter campus. Daily Tar Heel, July 14, 1988.
April 15, 1988: CIAAC protesters lay on the floor of the Career Planning and Placement Services work area in Hanes Hall. During the protest, CIAAC members sang protest songs and held hands. After refusing to leave the area, eight students were carried out of the building and arrested for trespassing. During this event, senior Graham Entwistle, junior Lisa House, junior Jerry Jones, junior Kasey Jones, graduate student Dale McKinley, evening college student Steve Sullivan, sophomore Joey Templeton, and senior Amy Thompson were arrested. This protest was intentionally held at the Career Planning office due to the office’s role in connecting CIA members with UNC students to discuss possible careers. Daily Tar Heel, April 18, 1988.
October 28, 1988: Members of another activist group, the Chapel Hill Coalition for the Freedom to Dissent (CFD), confronted the UNC-Chapel Hill Board of Trustees regarding their choice to stay silent regarding the case of Dale McKinley (his arrest and jail sentence). During this meeting, Ken Sandler, a graduate student and CFD member, read a letter condemning the Board of Trustees and their alleged attempts to stifle freedom of expression on campus. At this time, McKinley was serving a 21-day sentence in Orange County Jail for his actions on campus. Daily Tar Heel, October 31, 1988.
November 2, 1988: Following a rally in the Pit, around 20 students took part in another demonstration outside Hanes Hall, staging what they called the “CIA Café.” Students acting as waiters carried plates containing plastic limbs and other symbols of violence to illustrate their accusations against the CIA. As people walked by, the waiters offered the plates, asking, “Did you order the CIA atrocities?” Daily Tar Heel, November 3, 1988.
November 6, 1989: The CIAAC created a “symbolic graveyard” on Polk Place in front of South Building. This was accompanied by a mock funeral procession. The protesters carried their symbolic coffins inside the building and left them at Chancellor Paul Hardin’s desk. Hardin was not present for the protest. Daily Tar Heel, November 7, 1989.
Although the UNC campus has changed and grown significantly over the past half century, one thing has remained exactly the same: it can be tough to find a place to park. Students, visitors, and employees all know the struggle of searching campus lots for open spots or else paying for a space that is often nowhere near your final destination.
In the University Archives, folders labeled “Traffic” or “Parking” are common in administrative collections, usually filled with letters complaining about campus parking challenges. We found one of these folders, labeled “Parking, 1967” in the records of Chancellor J. Carlyle Sitterson. One of the letters it contained seemed similar to so many others, until we noticed the name of the writer: Doris Betts, the acclaimed novelist and longtime UNC faculty member in the Department of English.
In September 1967, after receiving a $1 parking ticket for failing to display her parking sticker, Betts wrote to the Chapel Hill Police Department, with a copy of her letter to Chancellor Sitterson. “Having paid the dollar,” she wrote, “I now feel entitled to complain.”
In what is easily the most literary parking complaint we’ve ever read, Betts addressed the absurdity of receiving a ticket while parking in order to pick up her faculty parking permit. Betts compares the campus parking regulations to scenes from Alice in Wonderland, with the police department in the “position of the gardeners in Wonderland who—discovering that they had planted a white rose bush in the spot the queen has ordered a red one—were busily coating the blooms with red paint.”
Betts also raises an important point that is likely even more relevant today: the burden of long commutes and parking challenges falls largely on those students and staff who cannot afford to live near campus. The full letter, transcribed below, is worth reading in its entirety.
September 28, 1967
Chapel Hill Police Department Chapel Hill, North Carolina
I enclose my fine of $1.00 for the parking ticket issued yesterday by Officer 3 for my car . . . parked in a faculty zone while I was teaching classes but not yet marked with the new permit sticker. Having paid the dollar, I now feel entitled to complain.
I commute to teach classes in the University English Department, and since I am not on-campus between Wednesday and Monday, there is an inevitable time-lag in the receipt of red-tape requests and the compliance with red-tape requests. I have paid my parking permit fee for the new sticker, to replace last year’s F. sticker for which Officer #3 must have noted on the bumper, but in order to go to the department and obtain this sticker on my next teaching day, it was necessary—oddly enough—to leave the car in a parking space. I was so enchanted to find one in time, for a change, to be in the office at the time set for student conferences, that I scooted right in and parked in it without considering this hazard of time-lag. The sticker will be on the bumper next time your officers pass my car. Whether it will be PARKED anywhere is, of course, a very different and more complex question.
On my first day of classes, having driven over from Sanford, I then put nearly and equal amount of mileage on the car by motoring up and down the lanes and lots of the U.N.C. campus in search of some place to be rid of the thing. When I finally did park and hike some distance to my department office, I encountered both my department chairman and the provost, who responded to my grumbling by saying all would be different as soon as I paid the new fee and obtained the new parking permit.
Now, however, time lags and all, this begins to sound more and more like Alice in Wonderland, like the Queen of Hearts passing sentence first and having a verdict second. I am not clear why a permit and a sticker ten feet high will manufacture a space where no space existed without said permit. In actuality, I have paid $5 for the privilege of driving around just as much and just as often and an extra dollar for the privilege of meeting the student conference on time and being delayed in picking up the sticker. While some students and lithe young faculty members, residing in Chapel Hill, may be able to reach classes on-foot, on-Honda, and on-Schwinn, those of us who commute must come in automobiles of necessity. I assure you, that if you drove on highway 15-501, behind school buses and brick trucks, behind trucks which showered your windshield with sand and poultry feathers, and cars full of nice old ladies who straddle the center-line in the interests of moderation and safety, sniffing your own burning gasoline in the air of Lee, Chatham, and Orange Counties—and THEN arrived, minus the cost of a permit and the cost of a traffic ticket unable to find a plain legal rectangle within reasonable distance of your duties, you’d be in a cross mood, too.
Gentlemen, the situation is not your fault; Officer 3 is doing his duty in abiding by understandable campus rules; I submit the fee fully understanding the justice of it. But the purpose of the letter, with its carbon to Dean Sitterson, is to relieve my feelings and find a more suitable outlet for them than Muttering Under One’s Own Breath.
I call your attention to the editorial in today’s Greensboro Daily News, which seems to be based on such common sense that it comes like the voice of Alice into the Queen’s croquet game and trial.
By the way, the student conference I met yesterday was also delayed. The student came out to his own car to find that HIS sticker had been neatly peeled off his bumper—either that, or the glue proved unreliable. He had been by to collect, he though a duplicate sticker, since he had paid a $10 registration fee and will actually be graduating in January. He was told that, for the coming 3½ months, he must buy a second sticker, at an additional $10. They are trying to discourage black market track in stickers, he said. The two of us had a difficult time getting off this subject and onto the purpose of our meeting, which had to do with literature and the rhetoric of fiction. Had I known that at that very time Ticket Number 40457 was even then nestling under my windshield wiper, I doubt we would have managed to deal with the short story form at all.
Gentlemen, you are in the position of the gardeners in Wonderland who—discovering that they had planted a white rose bush in the spot the queen has ordered a red one—were busily coating the blooms with red paint. As such, you have our sympathy. It is not much help to you, any more than my complaining is much help, but I hope it makes you feel better. I do.
The spring commencement ceremony has been a time for reflection and celebration since UNC’s first commencement in 1798. Commencement has traditionally included a featured speaker who provides insight and advice for the graduating students. These speakers have often included prominent people well known through their work in politics, arts, business, journalism, and public service. This list includes UNC-Chapel Hill’s featured spring commencement speakers from 1951-2022.
Role and Affiliation
Equal Justice Initiative
New York Times
Anthony Fauci and Kizzmekia Corbett (delivered virtually)
Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (Fauci), research fellow and scientific lead for the Coronaviruses Vaccines and Immunopathologies Team at the National Institutes of Health (Corbett)
Roy Williams (delayed until October 2020)
UNC Men’s Basketball Coach
CEO, Habitat for Humanity
Author, founder Carolina for Kibera
Foreign policy analyst
Former CEO, Hulu
Mayor of New York City
Author, Biodiversity scholar
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Anglican archbishop, Activist
Former U.S. Secretary of State
Founder, Teach for America
Rev. Peter Gomes
Theologian, Harvard University Divinity School
Attorney and Civil Rights activist
U.S. Senator, North Carolina
Stuart E. Eisenstat
Deputy Secretary, U.S. Treasury
Former basketball player, U.S. Senator
Marian Wright Edelman
Children’s Defense Fund
Erskine B. Bowles
White House Chief of Staff
Poet, Nobel Laureate
Johnnetta B. Cole
President, Spelman College
Director, National Human Genome Research Institute
Lawrence Douglas Wilder
Governor of Virginia
Hugh L. McColl
Bank of America
Roger H. Mudd
U.S. Senator, Arkansas
Peter V. Ueberroth
Commissioner, Major League Baseball
James G. Martin
Governor of North Carolina
CBS News reporter
UNC Professor of History
UNC Professor, Curriculum of Peace, War, and Defense
Martha Nell Hardy
UNC Professor, Department of Communications
J. Carlyle Sitterson
Former UNC Chancellor
UNC Professor, Creative Writing
Richard J. Richardson
Governor of North Carolina
President of EMB Research Economists
Former U.S. Senator, Missouri
Chancellor, N.C. State University
James Holshouser, Jr.
Governor of North Carolina
Professor of Economics, Duke University
Deputy Assistant Secretary, U.S. Department of Labor
J. Carlyle Sitterson
New York Times
James A. Shannon
Former director, National Institutes of Health
Chancellor, Vanderbilt University
President, Furman University
Frank Porter Graham
Former President, UNC
Douglas M. Knight
President, Duke University
Governor, North Carolina
President’s Special Assistant on the Arts
Publisher, Atlanta Journal Constitution
Governor of North Carolina
Vermont C. Royster
Editor, Saturday Review of Literature
Robert B. House
Barnaby C. Keeney
President, Brown University
Andrew J. Warren
Francis P. Gaines
President, Washington & Lee University
President, Consolidated University of North Carolina
March 1970: The student group Female Liberation issues a list of demands, one of which calls for “inclusion of courses for and about women in the curriculum.” [Source: Records of the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, 1920-2004, University Archives. Box 35: Female Liberation, 1969-1974 Demands.]
February 1973: The University Women for Affirmative Action organizes with the goal of ending discrimination based on gender at UNC. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection.Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]
November 1974: Joan Scott, a faculty member in the Department of History, asks the Faculty Council to investigate the possibility of establishing a Women’s Studies program. At the Council’s request, Chancellor Nelson Ferebee Taylor appoints a committee to explore the idea. [Source: Interview with Mary Turner Lane, 1986-1987. Southern Oral History Program Interviews, Southern Historical Collection]
April 1975: The Chancellor’s committee to explore the creation of a Women’s Studies program unanimously recommends the creation of such a program. [Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection.Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]
July 1976: Professor Mary Turner Lane agrees to serve as the first Director of the Women’s Studies Program. Dr. Lane, a professor in the School of Education, began as an instructor in 1954. During her time at the UNC, Lane worked to end social limitations for female students. Lane also helped found the Association for Women Faculty and Professionals and served as a chair of the Committee on the Status of Women.[Source: Margaret Anne O’Connor Papers, 1972-1989, Southern Historical Collection.Women’s Advisory Board 1973-74]
February 1988: The UNC Faculty Council approves a proposal to make the Women’s Studies Program an independent curriculum offering a bachelor’s degree. The change was not approved by the UNC System. [Source: Daily Tar Heel, 2/25/1988;Daily Tar Heel, 4/1/1992]
Have you heard the story that the Bell Tower was intentionally placed right behind Wilson Library so that, when viewed from South Building, the top of the tower looks like a dunce cap on the round dome of the library?
The dunce cap story has been one of the enduring campus legends for decades. The story originally told was that John Motley Morehead, angered that Louis Round Wilson wouldn’t let him put the tower on top of the new library building, put it right behind to make fun of Wilson. I’ve heard a slightly different version on campus recently, which attributes it to an ongoing battle between two of the university’s “founding families,” the Moreheads and the Wilsons, making them seem like UNC’s version of the Hatfields and McCoys.
As with many campus legends, this one is not true, though some of the stories hint at what really happened.
The Bell Tower was the idea of John Motley Morehead, the Carolina alumnus and industrialist who donated the Morehead Planetarium and established the Morehead scholarships. According to Louis Round Wilson, Morehead’s first proposal was made during the renovation of South Building in the 1920s. Morehead, who had been interested in bringing a tower with chimes to the campus, suggested funding the construction of a tower on top of South Building under the condition that it be renamed the Morehead Building. The Trustees refused, and Morehead looked for other sites.
Morehead turned his attention to the new library building planned for the opposite end of Polk Place, and suggested a bell tower on top of it. This was indeed rejected by librarian Louis Round Wilson. Wilson spoke from his knowledge of bell towers on top of buildings at Cornell University and the University of Illinois. He wrote that, while pleasing to the campus in general, “the ringing of bells and chimes immediately above the reading rooms of the libraries in working hours played havoc with mental concentration and quiet study.”
Morehead had yet another idea: when the university announced a plan to move the large flagpole on campus from McCorkle Place to its current location in the center of Polk Place, Morehead suggested this as the perfect site for the bell tower. The flagpole could be placed on top.
Finally, by 1930, a location was settled. Though initially appearing to be at the very southern end of the campus, long-range plans to expand the university to the south would put the bell tower at the center of the campus, which is where it stands today. The Morehead-Patterson Memorial Bell Tower was dedicated on Thanksgiving Day, 1931.
It’s not clear when the dunce cap story began. The earliest published reference to it that I could find was in a 1975 Daily Tar Heel article. The author of the story, Dan Fesperman, had the advantage at the time of being able to go straight to one of the sources: 99-year-old Louis Round Wilson was still living in Chapel Hill. Wilson reviewed the debate over the placement of the tower and then addressed the legend directly. “When Wilson was asked if there was even a speck of truth in the Bell Tower legend, he said, ‘It wasn’t designed for that purpose at all.’ He then added, ‘But it does look that way – like a fool’s cap.”
We are pleased to present this guest post from UNC-Chapel Hill student Autumn Linford. Autumn is a Park Fellow in the Hussman School of Journalism and Media.
Aros Coke Cecil’s photographs could be the work of any UNC undergrad of any era. Playing sports, the Old Well, friends goofing around, socializing with pretty co-eds: the images in Cecil’s 1917-1918 album wouldn’t seem out of place on a student’s Instagram page today. There are photos of students studying, photos of students procrastinating, and even one of Cecil and a friend clowning around with a classroom skeleton (see figure 1).
There is only one photo in the album that stands out. A young man, college-aged, stands in a dorm room holding a bucket and broom (see figure 2) Pennants and framed pictures are tacked to the wall behind him. It isn’t the scene that sets this photograph apart. It’s the fact that the young man, who looks at home casually leaning up against a desk with neatly stacked books, is black.
Black men and women weren’t allowed to attend the university as students until 1951, following a federal court order that led to the admission of black students to graduate programs. African American undergraduates were not admitted until 1955. There were blacks on campus in 1917, but it was strictly in the role of staff, cooking or doing maintenance jobs or, as was likely case of the young man pictured, cleaning. That this man was photographed by a white student is surprising. That his photograph was carefully preserved in a book alongside Cecil’s other college memories seems remarkable.
While we know something about the photographer, nothing was written down about the young man pictured other than the suggestion that he may have been a janitor for the university’s dorms. Was he friends with Cecil? Was he seen as a mascot to the men in the dorm? Did he appreciate being photographed, or dislike it? Was he important to Cecil, or was this a way to finish out a roll of film?
There is so much that we can never know about this man, but I wanted to try to identify him with however much information I could. Utilizing the resources available online and in the Wilson Library’s collections, I was able to identify the young man in question as Henry Patrick Merritt, Jr.
My process was systematic and replicable. I first confirmed the janitor was, in fact, standing in a dorm room by examining other photographs in the collection and finding other shots of the same room. I then went through each page of Chapel Hill’s 1920 census record and found all black men employed on campus. I narrowed the list down to those working in dormitories, and then again to janitors, leaving about 10 men. It is difficult to tell how old the man in the picture is, but a conservative guess suggests he was between the ages of 15 and 35 at the time of the photograph. By eliminating all men whose ages were outside that frame, I was left with only three names: Johnson Merritt, Jr., Lee Baldwin, and Henry Merritt, Jr.
Other photographs in Cecil’s collection showed the college men receiving their draft information for WWI in 1917. I thought it likely that the black men on campus had received their notices at the same time. I looked up all three men in the WWI databases and found each of their war registration cards. In 1917, Johnson Merritt, Jr. wrote in his occupation as gardener for the college. Lee Baldwin listed his occupation as a laborer. Henry Merritt, Jr., age 19, listed himself as a janitor for the dormitories at the University of North Carolina.
Merritt was born March 15, 1900 in Chapel Hill. His father, Henry Merritt, Sr. was a long-time janitor for the on-campus fraternity Kappa Sigma. Henry Jr. was the oldest of nine children: six sisters and two brothers. With so many younger siblings, the income Merritt made by working at the university would have been crucial to his family’s survival. At the time, janitors on campus were paid $14.93 a week, a wage that covered barely half of the average living expenses for blacks living in town at the time. Despite that, the wage was still considered “relatively high” for people of color at the time.
After the war, Merritt worked for C. and P. Telephone Co. His father continued to work as a janitor at the university and features prominently in several editions of the Daily Tar Heel, including one with a four-column photograph in 1926 (see figure 3).
We don’t know why Cecil took his photograph of Merritt, or why it was important enough for him to keep. We can’t know what Merritt felt while he posed or what he was thinking as he cleaned up after men he wasn’t allowed to call peers. But we do now know his name. In conjunction with the archivists at the Wilson Library, I have already begun the process of updating the system to include Merritt’s name and basic information. It is by treating him with dignity that we can begin to reckon with the past’s efforts to erase him and others like him.
 Dorothy Fahs, report. “Income and expenditure in 28 Chapel Hill Negro Families,” University of North Carolina Wilson Library.
This post contains information about reproductive health that may be sensitive for some readers.
A decade of change in UNC’s student population sparked several changes in reproductive and sexual health dialogue on campus. From 1967 to 1977, women grew from 28.7% of the student body to 49.2%. Women were first allowed to enroll as freshman in most programs at the University in the early 1960s, and were admitted based on a higher academic standard until Title IX in 1972 (OIRA Fact Book, 1994).
In December 1970, in response to a recognized need for more open dialogue about reproductive health on campus, a student and a faculty member started “Elephants and Butterflies,” a weekly column in the Daily Tar Heel. Created by student-activist Lana Starnes and Dr. Takey Crist, activist and Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the column featured their responses to anonymous letters about health and sexuality.
Some of the reasons Starnes and Crist cited for the necessity of the column were the high rate of unwanted pregnancies and the high rate and danger of illegal abortion (Bobo, 1973). Starnes noted that about 25,000 women sought an illegal abortion in North Carolina annually (Starnes, 1971). A few years earlier, in 1968, campus research showed that 60% of sexually-active women surveyed had not used contraceptives (Morrow, 2006, p. 12). Around the time, UNC administration denied the prescription of birth control to unmarried women, fearing that access to birth control and information would increase sexual activity (Warren, 1967). To make matters more difficult, if a student were unmarried and pregnant or found to have sought an illegal abortion, she would not be permitted to continue school (Unwed Pregnant Student Policy, Collection # 40124).
The column grew out of the sexual health booklet titled “Elephants and Butterflies…and Contraceptives,” co-written by Dr. Crist and released in 1970. To combat stigma and help dymystify human sexuality, Starnes and Crist wrote of their column:
“It is not our purpose to cause embarrasment or fear or shame, but to allow students to examine their educational presuppositions and value judgments concerning human sexuality. We feel your questions are legitimate, necessary and should make us respond thoughtfully, adequately and honestly.” (Starnes & Crist, 1971)
The name of the booklet and column came from that same commitment to openness. It is a reference to the E.E. Cummings fairy tale, “The Elephant and The Butterfly”, a sweet, short story about love and dedication written for Cummings’ daughter (Popova, 2013). The story was printed in the beginning of the booklet, representing sexual relationships as ones that should be entered into with “caring and trust” (Cohen & Snyder, p. 201) In the health booklet, male physiology is described in the “Elephant” section and female physiology in the “Butterfly” section. (Starnes & Cheek, 1970)
Subjects covered in the column ranged from how smoking affects sexual functioning (Sept. 6, 1971) to pregnancy after having a miscarriage (March 5, 1973). Sometimes, in leui of questions, readers could match definitions to a reproductive organ diagram (Sept. 25, 1972) or read an informative guide on STDs (October 1, 1973).
In 1972, the March 6th column was left blank in memory of an 18-year old student who died seeking an illegal abortion. That day, a somber message from Starnes and Crist in place of their usual advice asked if her death could have been prevented with proper birth control and counseling, ending with “We mourn in silence.” (March 6, 1972)
The final column was the seventh in a series of columns about contraception (March 4, 1974). They omitted the recurring section requesting that students send in letters, but stated that the next essay (presumably the eighth) in the series would be on the future of birth control. They did not mention whether or not the column would return.
Learn more about Dr. Crist, Lana Starnes and “Elephants and Butterflies” in “Sexual Liberation at the University of North Carolina,” by Kelly Morrow, a chapter in Rebellion in Black and White: Southern Student Activism in the 1960s. (Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder, eds., Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2013). The article is based on Morrow’s 2006 master’s thesis, available in Carolina Digital Repository: https://cdr.lib.unc.edu/concern/dissertations/d504rm21k.
Morrow, K. (2006). Navigating the “sexual wilderness”: The sexual liberation movement at the University of North Carolina, 1969-1973.
Morrow, K. (2013) “Sexual Liberation at the University of North Carolina.” Rebellion in black and white: Southern student activism in the 1960s. Edited by Robert Cohen and David J. Snyder. The John Hopkins University Press: Baltimore.
Popova, M. (2013). Vintage illustrations for the fairy tales e.e. cummings wrote for his only daughter, whom he almost abandoned. Brain Pickings.
Starnes L. & Crist, T. (1973) Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1973-04-16/ed-1/seq-6/
Starnes L. & Crist, T. (1974) Elephants and Butterflies. The Daily Tar Heel.
Unwed Pregnant Student Policy, 1967, in the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40124, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Warren, V. (1967). Should university health services provide the pill?”. The Daily Tar Heel. http://newspapers.digitalnc.org/lccn/sn92073228/1966-02-03/ed-1/seq-1/
There are many forms of protest and one of them is the uninhibited celebration of your culture and the artistic achievements of your peers. Last month at the Project STAND (Student Activism Now Documented) symposium in Atlanta, one of the student panelists emphasized the necessity for uplifting depictions of black joy in addition to recognizing some of the struggles of activism. The Black Arts Festival, held by the Black Student Movement from 1972 to 1981, is an example of such joy.
Called by 1973 Cultural Coordinator Algenon Marbley, “soul-stirring events” that “exemplify our culture through song, dance and drama,” the Black Arts Festival was an explosion of performances, workshops and lectures that featured artists not only from on campus, but throughout the United States. (Marbley, 1973)
The annual festival happened from 1972 to 1981, and featured performances from Black Student Movement subgroups like The Readers (now The Ebony Readers/Onyx Theatre), Opeyo Dancers (now Opeyo! Dance Company) and the Black Student Movement Gospel Choir. The festival was lauded as an event where black students could come together and express themselves through performance.
The relationships and roots of Black American art in the African diaspora were consistent themes in the 1973 festival. While performance seems to be the dominant form of expression in each year’s festival, the week-long series of events also featured panel discussions and classes. The festival in 1973 included a conversation between Chapel Hill’s first black mayor, Howard Lee, and activist Owusu Saudaki (Mills, 1973). Often, the BSM reached out to communities near UNC and workshops were taught by Durham’s Ebony Dance Theatre and the Bowie State Dancers (Starr, 1979).
In 1975, students expressed concern for continuing the festival, and conversations were had about how a black student organization on a predominantly while campus could thrive in terms of funding and administrative support. The festival was put on hiatus between 1976 and 1978, during which time the organization focused on other concerns like recruitment of black faculty and students (Carolina Union Records).
Distressed by the lack of black artists coming to Chapel Hill, members of the BSM worked to revive the festival (Worsley, 1979). In 1979, black film and theater legend Cicely Tyson was invited to appear at Memorial Hall. That same year, co-sponsored by the Carolina Union, the award-winning and Grammy nominated New York Community Choir performed.
In 1980, the festival saw much less of an audience outside of the 300 audience members who came to support the Freshman Bloc, a skit-based variety show. The festival continued in 1981, with Wanda Montgomery as Cultural Coordinator. (Blossom, 1981). This is seemingly the last year, because in 1982, the BSM continued to fight for funding. The Black Arts Festival was under scrutiny, funding was cut and some of the events were added to Black History Month (Black Ink, 1982).
There are some occurrences of week-long events similar to the Black Arts festival after this. In 1991, an African American culture week called “African Americans in the Arts,” sponsored by the Black Cultural Centers Special Programming Committee, featured the Opeyo! Dancers (Mankowski, 1991). In the early 1990s, African American Culture Week is still mentioned in Black Ink. The Black Student Movement and its subgroups continue to produce, sponsor and curate performances, continuing their legacy as an organization that uplifts black joy.
Black Student Movement in the Carolina Union of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Records #40128, University Archives, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.