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North Carolina

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Julius Chambers, a fighter for civil rights, dies at 76

    Julius L. Chambers, a civil rights lawyer who endured firebombings of his house, office and car in winning case after case against racial segregation, including one that led to a landmark Supreme Court decision allowing forced busing, died on Friday at his home in Charlotte, N.C. He was 76.Geraldine Sumter, a law partner, confirmed the death, saying Mr. Chambers had had a heart attack in April and had been in declining health.Mr. Chambers began championing civil rights well before he succeeded Thurgood Marshall and Jack Greenberg as president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund in 1984. Two decades earlier, he had left an internship at the fund to open a one-man law practice in Charlotte specializing in civil rights, its office in a cold-water walk-up. It grew to become North Carolina’s first integrated law firm....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    NC law ends pay raises for K-12 teachers with master's degrees

    A master’s degree in teaching costs about $6,400 a semester for a full-time North Carolina resident attending East Carolina University’s College of Education, meaning a four-semester program would cost about $26,000. But, according to the North Carolina state legislature, that doesn’t mean it’s worth anything.In the most recent state budget passed by the state legislature and signed by the governor last week, North Carolina lawmakers eliminated a provision – which exists in many states – that granted automatic pay raises to public school teachers who completed master’s degrees. It was one of several changes the budget made to teacher compensation and working conditions, including ending teacher tenure, but it is the one likely to have the largest impact on the state’s higher education institutions.The elimination of the benefit could have a significant effect on enrollment in education schools at North Carolina colleges and universities. And since many of those programs generate net revenues for the institutions, enrollment declines could affect their bottom lines....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Thalian curtain might be oldest in entire U.S.

    Thalian Hall houses what might be the oldest painted stage curtain in the United States, a theater historian told a Wilmington audience Thursday."These things were not meant to last," said David Rowland, president of Pennsylvania's Old York Road Historical Society. Most surviving examples of drop curtains in New England date from only the 1890s at the earliest, Rowland said.Thalian Hall, however, still has its original drop curtain, which hung onstage when the historic theater opened on Oct. 12, 1858....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Michael Gross recalls Moral Monday arrest

    Whatever happens in the next decade or two, East Carolina University professor Michael Gross said he did not want to look back and think he failed to stand up for something.A professor of German history with degrees from the University of Chicago, Columbia and Brown, Gross teaches his students about the effects of “fanatical, right-wing radicalism” and its effect on Germany in the 1920s and early 1930s.“One of the things we talk about is the responsibility we have to participate and protect democracy by speaking up,” Gross said. “If we don’t, it may very well collapse and be replaced by hypocrisy or a minority group that dictates its will. We’re in danger of letting others undermine our republic if we don’t educate ourselves.”...

  • Originally published 07/12/2013

    Lisa Levenstein: Public Deserves To Be Heard On Abortion Bill

    Lisa Levenstein is an associate professor of U.S. women’s history at UNCG.Proposed new regulations on abortion providers have nothing to do with protecting women’s health. Nothing demonstrates this quite like the tactics Republican leaders have used to try to ram the legislation through the N.C. General Assembly.At first, draconian abortion restrictions were placed into an anti-Sharia law bill. After public scrutiny began to gather momentum, the new regulations were put into — of all things — a motorcycle safety bill. If advocates are so convinced these new measures are justified, why all the secrecy? Why all the back-room tactics? Why the rush?GOP leaders argued that the legislation formerly known as House Bill 695, the “Family, Faith, and Freedom Protection Act,” would actually protect women by imposing strict new regulations on abortion providers....

  • Originally published 07/09/2013

    N.C. Museum of History Wins 2013 AASLH Award of Merit

    NASHVILLE, TN July 8, 2013 — The American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) proudly announces that the N.C. Museum of History in Raleigh is the recipient of an Award of Merit from the AASLH Leadership in History Awards for the permanent exhibit History in Every Direction: Tar Heel Junior Historian Association Discovery Gallery. The AASLH Leadership in History Awards, now in its 68th year, is the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history.The interactive exhibit History in Every Direction features hands-on activities related to exploring history through five kinds of primary sources: artifacts, documents, photographs, oral history, and buildings and sites. The exhibit also showcases award-winning projects by members of the Tar Heel Junior Historian Association, which is based at the N.C. Museum of History. THJHA’s many annual contests encourage students in grades four to 12 to discover and share the historical significance of people, places and events in their own communities. There are more than 5,000 Tar Heel junior historians in 47 counties across North Carolina....

  • Originally published 05/29/2013

    NC corrects Revolutionary War marker

    After nearly 75 years, a piece of local Revolutionary War history has been rewritten.On Friday, a state historical marker indicating a decisive Revolutionary War battleground in Alamance County was changed to reflect more accurate information unearthed by two historians.“Alamance County has been told the incorrect information since 1938,” Stewart Dunaway said to a Southern Campaigns of the American Revolution tour group, which had gathered at the fork of N.C. 49 and Anthony Road, south of Interstate 40/85....

  • Originally published 05/23/2013

    Mary C. Curtis: Is North Carolina Moving Backward on Civil Rights?

    Mary C. Curtis, an award-winning multimedia journalist in Charlotte, N.C., has worked at The New York Times, Charlotte Observer and as national correspondent for Politics Daily. Follow her on Twitter: @mcurtisnc3CHARLOTTE – North Carolina has never had a problem bragging about its progressive history. In 1960, when George Wallace was formulating the hard-line segregationist stand that would propel him to multiple terms in the Alabama statehouse, North Carolina was electing as its governor Terry Sanford, who was an advocate of education, an opponent of capital punishment and took moderate but definite steps toward integration – at the time a risk in the South.In the early 1970′s, Mecklenburg County liked to contrast pictures of the relative calm that greeted its busing of students to achieve school integration with the violence and vandalism up North in Boston’s busing battles.And 50 years ago, in May 1963, a year before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 ended segregation in public accommodations, Charlotte leaders — black and white — paired up for two-by-two integration of restaurants, called “eat-ins,” a name that played off the “sit-ins” of three years before at a Greensboro, N.C., Woolworth’s counter....

  • Originally published 05/11/2013

    William Chafe, Jacquelyn Dowd Hall arrested at NC statehouse protest

    William Chafe is the Alice Mary Baldwin Professor of History, emeritus, at Duke University and the former dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences. Jacquelyn Dowd Hall is the Julia Cherry Spruill Professor of History at UNC-Chapel Hill.This week, we were arrested at the General Assembly. We chose the path of civil disobedience – along with 29 others – as a means of calling attention to the headlong assault on our state’s history by the governor and the state legislature.We are not radicals. Each of us has been president of the Organization of American Historians, the leading professional organization of all American historians. We cherish the history we have spent our lives studying. Yet now we see a new generation in Raleigh threatening to destroy the very history we have spent our lives celebrating....

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    A historic textile mill begins a new chapter

    After a complicated 20-year effort to save a redbrick mill in North Carolina that was once considered the largest in the world for textiles and that played a significant role in the South’s textile history, the plant is finally moving toward a new life as a multiuse complex.The Loray Mill, which for decades produced fabric for car tires, last month began a $40 million conversion project that will create 190 apartments in its six stories, as well as several floors of shops and restaurants. The mill, which was the site of an famous labor strike in the 1920s, is in the city of Gastonia, a former industrial hub outside of Charlotte.To the delight of preservationists, the development team of JBS Ventures, of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif., and Camden Management Partners, of Atlanta, will retain much of the original 600,000-square-feet structure of the complex. This first phase of the redevelopment will reinvent about 450,000 square feet of the mill, including the main section, which dates to 1902....

  • Originally published 04/03/2013

    State religion in NC?

    Raleigh, N.C. — A bill filed by Republican lawmakers would allow North Carolina to declare an official religion, in violation of the Establishment Clause of the U.S. Bill of Rights, and seeks to nullify any federal ruling against Christian prayer by public bodies statewide.The bill grew out of a federal lawsuit filed last month by the American Civil Liberties Union against the Rowan County Board of Commissioners. In the lawsuit, the ACLU says the board has opened 97 percent of its meetings since 2007 with explicitly Christian prayers.Overtly Christian prayers at government meetings are not rare in North Carolina. Since the Republican takeover in 2011, the state Senate chaplain has offered an explicitly Christian invocation virtually every day of session, despite the fact that some senators are not Christian....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    NC removing Confederate flag from capitol

    RALEIGH, N.C. –  A Confederate battle flag hung inside the old North Carolina State Capitol last week to mark the sesquicentennial of the Civil War is being taken down after civil rights leaders raised concerns.The decision was announced Friday evening, hours after the Associated Press published a story about the flag, which officials said was part of an historical display intended to replicate how the antebellum building appeared in 1863. The flag had been planned to hang in the House chamber until April 2015, the 150th anniversary of the arrival of federal troops in Raleigh."This is a temporary exhibit in an historic site, but I've learned the governor's administration is going to use the old House chamber as working space," Cultural Resources Secretary Susan Kluttz said Friday night. "Given that information, this display will end this weekend rather than April of 2015."...

  • Originally published 02/06/2013

    William J. Barber II amd Tim Tyson: McCrory’s Intellectual Dead End

    Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II is president and Dr. Tim Tyson is education chair of the N.C. State Conference of NAACP Branches. ...“You got to throw the corn down where the hogs can get to it,” Georgia race-baiter Gov. Eugene Talmadge used to crow. In much the same spirit, North Carolina’s new governor appeared on William Bennett’s nationally-syndicated radio program last week and sneered at the UNC system for “offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs.”Bennett seems an odd assistant to help McCrory toss those stale hushpuppies to the tea party. The former secretary of education usually bemoans the failure of today’s youth to read Aristotle. The author of “The Book of Virtues” admits to losing something like $10 million in the casinos and he once speculated that even though it would be wrong for America to abort all African American babies, “the crime rate would go down.”

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Lisa Levenstein: NC Governor McCrory’s Education Decree is Misguided

    Lisa Levenstein teaches history at UNC Greensboro.On Tuesday, Gov. Pat McCrory vowed to change the system of public higher education in North Carolina. Instead of educating students broadly in the liberal arts, he wants universities and community colleges to train students narrowly for existing jobs in fields such as “mechanics.”“We are offering courses that have no chance of getting people jobs,” McCrory told conservative radio talk-show host Bill Bennett, disparaging subjects such as philosophy for providing students with inadequate skills.Unlike the governor, many Americans value a liberal arts education for teaching critical-thinking and communication skills through the study of the arts, social sciences, natural sciences and humanities. As students read great literature, investigate scientific problems, learn foreign languages, analyze data, scrutinize historical artifacts and study global cultures, they acquire tools that foster lifelong learning and promote engaged and responsible citizenship....