Race & Demographics

Perry Aycock, AP

One of the largest Ku Klux Klan demonstrations in North Carolina was in the summer of 1966.  That’s when Klansmen marched in full regalia through downtown Raleigh. That day was also historic because the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was in the capital city.

photo of writer David Zucchino
Becca Fox

 

Pulitzer Prize winner David Zucchino tackles Wilmington’s big lie in his latest book. Often called the Wilmington Massacre, early history described it as an unfortunate event where blacks were planning a race riot to overthrow whites. What history uncovered was a highly structured, highly coordinated coup planned by white supremacists to strip blacks of their newly-gained political power.

Historical sign
Flickr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/taedc/31557195515

The term “Underground Railroad” evokes the image of the legendary Harriet Tubman engineering daring escapes in a false-bottomed carriage or slaves following the North Star through dark woods. Researcher and longtime history professor Adrienne Israel says those popular images only tell a sliver of the story.

Woman stands in front of the Code The Dream office.
Courtesy of Dan Rearick

Part of the American dream includes a solid education with the promise of a lucrative job down the road. For students in North Carolina who are undocumented or recipients of DACA, that dream is elusive. These facts were part of the impetus for Code the Dream, a nonprofit organization that teaches immigrant and minority youth the art and science of coding.

The statue before activists toppled it.
Don McCullough / flickr, Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/fvHbD4

New documents released from the University of North Carolina System reveal some of what happened behind closed doors as UNC Board of Governors negotiated its $2.5 million settlement with the North Carolina Sons of Confederate Veterans over the controversial Silent Sam statue.

Hope in her cap and gown after graduation from Smith College.
Courtesy of Elan Hope

Elan Hope grew up in one of the wealthiest majority-African American counties in the United States: Prince George’s County, Maryland. She went to talented and gifted schools and attended a STEM-focused magnet high school.

Screen grab from an old nontheatrical film showing a young African American athlete on a field with white peers.
Courtesy of Duke University Press

Do you remember watching educational movies in elementary school? Older generations might think of the teacher setting up the 16 mm projector, while younger folks were assigned YouTube videos to watch at home.

Headshot of Judith Ruderman
Courtesy of Judith Ruderman

What does it mean to be Jewish in America? For some it is the observance of particular high holy days, while for others it is much more of a cultural identity than a religious one.

Chatham Confederate Monument
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

Traffic moved slowly but orderly through Pittsboro, in Chatham County, on a recent day. Karen Howard, the driver, reached the traffic circle that can't be avoided. It's the circle around the Old Chatham courthouse.

Old Oberlin Road schoolhouse archive photo.
Albert Barden Collection, State Archives of North Carolina

Oberlin Village is an important part of Raleigh’s history — but there is not much of the historic African American community left.

News & Record file

As a law student in 1969, Flint Taylor wanted to make a difference in the fight for civil and human rights. He and other young lawyers teamed up and formed a law practice that went on to represent clients in high profile fights, including a civil suit that challenged the official story of slain Black Panther Party Chairman Fred Hampton and a case that uncovered systemic use of torture by the Chicago Police Department to coerce confessions from African American men.

Holmes with a tennis racket.
Courtesy of Meredythe Holmes

Irwin Holmes had the early makings of an all-around star. He graduated third in his class at Hillside High School in 1956 at the age of 15. In addition to his academic prowess, Holmes was also a champion on the tennis court.

Warren County, Community Health, Medicaid
Leoneda Inge / WUNC

People seeking health care in rural Warren County have waited a long time for good news. Now they're celebrating.

Cummings headshot.
(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

In a time of great political upheaval, the country has lost a formidable force. Maryland Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings passed away last week at the age of 68.

Newkirk headshot
Joe Hanson

In the 1960s, President Lyndon B. Johnson ushered in new legislation meant to help level the playing field for African Americans who were being largely left behind because of poverty, lack of education and lack of political power. The efforts began to work, but nearly 60 years later newsrooms remain mostly white, tenured university professors remain mostly white, and Hollywood and fashion industries remain mostly white.

Headshot of Segrest.
Laura Flanders

Mab Segrest is a lesbian feminist who spent the ‘80s monitoring Ku Klux Klan rallies and tracking the activity of hate groups in North Carolina. But social activism was an unlikely career path for a woman whose grandfather was a klansman and whose parents who fought to keep schools segregated.

Courtesy of Cecilia Polanco

Cecilia Polanco’s parents did not dream of their daughter owning a food truck when they emigrated from El Salvador to the United States in the early 1980s. Their expectation was that she would get a respectable profession after college, or even better, a career, like her older sisters who work in law and insurance.

Archived illustrated image.
North Carolina State Archives

Even before the Lost Colony, great waves of emigration and migration were reshaping the region now known as North Carolina. As foreign empires invaded the land, new alliances and identities formed between the Tuscarora People along the coast and freed West Africans and Caribean Natives.

An afro-indigenous woman's face edited over the image of an indigenous young man.
Courtesy of Damola Akintunde and Crystal Cavalier-Keck

Indigenous Peoples’ Day reimagines Columbus Day to celebrate the other side of European “discovery.” These celebrations advance concrete political causes, such as the re-establishment of land rights in the Piedmont.

Andre Vann standing with a table of NCCU's history.
Courtesy of Andre Vann

Andre Vann has always been enchanted by the stories of others. He grew up in a small, tight-knit community in Henderson, N.C. that was founded by his great-great-grandmother. He was rooted to his family history in that neighborhood, surrounded by his relatives and close family friends.

I’ve lived in Chapel Hill my whole life. I live with my mom, dad, older brother Alex, two dogs, Rex and Bear, and my grandmother.

Cliff Parker
Elon University Office of Communications

Elon University joined other schools, community groups and law enforcement officials across the country for an inaugural National Day of Reconciliation. The idea was to improve relations between police and people of color.

Theseus and The Minotaur (The Black, Queer Version)

Sep 13, 2019
Allison Swaim / WUNC

When I started the summer, I wanted to write about the struggle of black LGBT youth in churches that didn’t approve of their lifestyle and persecuted them for their sexuality. 

Old photos of the massacre.
Courtesy of the General Negative Collection, North Carolina State Archives

Wilmington is the setting for some of North Carolina’s oldest history — including the only coup d’etat to ever take place in the United States. In 1898 a mob of armed, white supremacists torched the offices of the local black newspaper, killed many African American residents and overthrew the elected government.

Film poster showing an illustrated portrait of the lead singer angrily yelling
John Rash

Soon after moving to Mississippi, documentary filmmaker John Rash was looking for a way to fill his evenings. A lifelong member of the punk community, he had his eye out for show billings. One name grabbed his attention — Negro Terror. Once he heard the band's anti-fascist and Black Power politics combined seamlessly in their lyrics and followers, he knew there was a story to be explored.

Hundreds of protesters hold ant-white supremacy signs.
Anthony Crider

Hundreds showed up for “A March Against White Supremacy” in Hillsborough over the weekend in response to a klan rally held in the town the week before.

Monica White walks in a field with a farmer.
Courtesy of Monica White

It is difficult to disentangle agriculture from oppression in African American history. From slavery to sharecropping, farming for black Americans has frequently manifested in some form of exploitation. But scholar Monica White aims to reframe the history of black agriculture through examining moments of resistance and resilience.

Exonerated, When They See Us, Innocence PRoject
Netflix

Two exonerated members of what was known as the "Central Park Five," will speak at Duke University Monday night. The detailed story of the "Central Park Five" played out for all to see in the critically acclaimed Netflix mini series, "When They See Us." Netflix said the series, written and directed by Ava DuVernay, was their most-watched series.

Photo: North Carolina Supreme Court
Giant Sloth / Flickr

Four death row prisoners will argue to North Carolina's highest court that racial bias so infected their trials that they should be resentenced to life in prison as attorneys revive arguments about a repealed law on race and capital punishment.

Courtesy of Floyd McKissick Jr.

A University of Michigan study of North Carolina death penalty trials from 2012 showed that prosecutors on average struck black jurors at 2.5 times the rate of white jurors. Even though the U.S. Supreme Court forbid prosecutors from using the basis of race alone to reject jurors, racial bias is alive and well in North Carolina’s justice system.

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