#TrueInclusion

The Division of North Carolina State Historic sites is committed to saying the names of African Americans whose lives have intersected with our historic sites. We have launched the #TrueInclusion initiative to highlight the broad interpretive work already happening at our sites and emphasize our continued goal of sharing an inclusive narrative from the mountains to the coast. 

Memory Keepers’ Aim to Tell NC’s Full History

North Carolina Historic Sites Director Michelle Lanier spoke with Coastal Review Online about the #TrueInclusion initiative and the division's work to reach all audiences. If you are interested in reading more check out Coastal Review Online- Memory Keepers’ Aim to Tell NC’s Full History   

For more information on the thoughts behind the #TrueInclusion project, please see this open letter from our director, Michelle Lanier. An Open Letter for These Times: Black Lives and Historic Sites

 

 

 

Historic Stagville - Betty Belle Holman Hayes

Betty Belle Holman Hayes was a descendant of the Holman family, whose ancestors were enslaved by the Bennehan-Cameron family and became sharecroppers after emancipation. Stagville sharecroppers were bound in a restrictive contract and paid with a share of their own crop. If you've visited Stagville, you've toured the Holman House, one of their family homes.

In a 1986 interview, Betty Belle Holman Hayes discussed the complicated origins of her name: Her mother named her Belle Holman after Isabelle Cameron, the daughter of the white landowner. Isabelle Cameron wanted the child named after her and brought toys and clothing to the Holmans.

Betty Belle's grandfather wanted to name her in memory of his wife, Betty. While her birth certificate states her name as Belle Holman, she was called Betty Belle to appease both her grandfather and the white landowning family.

In the decades following emancipation, families like the Holmans endured an unfair sharecropping system that was deepened by societal racism. Betty Belle's name story is a striking example of how sharecroppers navigated power inequalities and oppression.

Pictured is Betty Belle Holman Hayes during an interview at Horton Grove likely taken in the 1980s. 

Historic Stagville:
Instagram: @historicstagville
Facebook: @Stagville
Twitter: @HistStagville

 

Fort Dobbs State Historic Site - Native Americans, historical reenactment more than just playing a role

"We are still here as a people. We're composed of many different tribal nations, with distinct and unique cultures, and we're still here. It's important that the people living on our land know who we are and where we came from."

November #NativeAmericanHeritageMonth. Fort Dobbs had the privilege to have tribally enrolled Native Americans take part in our annual Military Timeline program.

History has many perspectives, and we are committed to being a site where the stories of Native Americans can be shared BY Native Americans. Learn more:  Statesville Record & Landmark - Native Americans, historical reenactment more than just playing a role

Pictured is Malaciah G. Taylor an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  

Fort Dobbs State Historic Site:
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Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site - Wilmington On Fire

As a part of North Carolina Historic Sites' True Inclusion initiative, the Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site hosted an online screening and discussion of the award-winning documentary “Wilmington On Fire.” 

The film, directed by Christopher Everett, describes the Wilmington Race Riot of 1898 -- the only successful coup d’état in the U.S. -- and its long-lasting effects on the port city’s African American population. “Wilmington On Fire” features interviews with descendants of Alexander Manly, whose newspaper office was destroyed; Thomas Miller, who was a prominent businessman and property owner in Wilmington and was forced to leave the city; and Isham Quick, who was a coal and wood dealer and was also a board member of the Metropolitan Trust Company in Wilmington.

Aycock Birthplace State Historic Site:
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Historic Halifax - Miles Howard

For the Historic Halifax #TrueInclusion campaign, would like to share more information about Miles Howard. Miles Howard was born enslaved around 1800. He was sold as a child in 1811 to Halifax Attorney Thomas Burgess for $295 by Benjamin Marriner. Miles trained as a barber and a musician, and was emancipated in 1818, becoming a Free Person of Color. Also around 1818, Miles married his first wife, Matilda, who was enslaved at the time. Miles was forced to purchase his wife from a “Mr. Burt”, in order to marry her. According to law, because Matilda was enslaved, so too were her children, although their father was free. The Howards remained in Halifax, and Miles was finally able to emancipate three of his children in 1838. By the time Howard passed away in 1857, he owned multiple real estate plots and town lots. His holdings included briefly owning the Burgess Law Office, now a restored building at Historic Halifax.

Pictured is Burgess Law Office.

Historic Halifax:
Instagram: @halifaxnc1776
Facebook: @historichalifaxnc
Twitter: @HalifaxNC1776

 

Historic Halifax - John Chavis

Little is known for certain about John Chavis’s early years. His name appears as an indentured servant on the 1773 inventory of Halifax, North Carolina attorney James Milner. We do not have record of the terms of his indenture, as such, the particulars of exactly how Chavis entered into the status of Free Man of Color remains unclear. During the American Revolution, the State of Virginia required all free born males, over the age of 16 to sign an Oath of Allegiance to Virginia and the United States; indentured servants were excluded from this requirement. On December 20th 1778, John Chavis took the Oath of Allegiance in Mecklenburg, Virginia. He would enlist in the 5th Virginia Regiment of the Continental Army and served three years in the American Revolution.

After the war, Chavis attended Princeton University, then Washington University (later Washington and Lee University). Chavis became arguably the first African American Presbyterian minister in the United States and served as a minister in Virginia and North Carolina. He would go on to open an integrated school in Raleigh that taught both black and white students in the same classroom. John Chavis would serve as a teacher to many of Raleigh’s prominent families. Students attributed to Chavis include Priestly H. Mangum (brother of former North Carolina State Senator Willie P. Mangum); Charles Manly (former North Carolina Governor), the sons of former North Carolina Supreme Court Chief Justice Leonard Henderson; and Abram Rencher (former United States Congressman and New Mexico Territorial Governor). Chavis would receive pressure from the parents of some of his white students to segregate the school, and in 1808 he put an ad in the Raleigh Register announcing that he would began teaching white students during the day and black students at night.

In response to the 1831 Nat Turner's Rebellion, North Carolina placed additional restrictions on African Americans. New laws stripped free African Americans of their right to vote, teach, receive an education, meet in public, and minister without the presence of a white supervisor. Despite having served as a teacher for the leading families of Raleigh, John Chavis would be forced to close his school and leave the ministry. The Presbyterian Church provided Chavis $50.00, a kind of quasi-retirement payment, until his death in 1838. Chavis Park and Chavis Heights, both in Raleigh, pay homage to John Chavis, African American preacher, educator, and Revolutionary War soldier.

Historic Halifax:
Instagram: @halifaxnc1776
Facebook: @historichalifaxnc
Twitter: @HalifaxNC1776

Bentonville Battlefield - Lucy, Alexander, and Clarsie

The Harper House, home of John and Amy Harper, built in the late 1850s, played a key role in the Battle of Bentonville, March 19-21, 1865.

Today, Bentonville Battlefield brings you the names of Lucy, Alexander, and Clarsie, people enslaved at the Harper farm who were likely witness to the battle of Bentonville and who impacted the history of North Carolina. 

Bentonville Battlefield:
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Historic Stagville - An enslaved man called Scrub

An enslaved man called Scrub fled Stagville to gain freedom in 1784. Richard Bennehan mounted a campaign to apprehend him, offering a reward for Scrub’s capture and return.

Richard Bennehan placed an advert that gives insight into Scrubs experience and his journey to freedom. It states, “I expect he will attempt to get to Norfolk (where he was raised), and pass as a free man by the name of Charles Thompson, or Charles Fry.” How did Bennehan know these names? Had Scrub used these pseudonyms before?

Based on the archival record, it seems that Scrub was never captured and returned to Stagville. Unfortunately, researchers have not been able to trace Scrub’s life as a free person, likely due to his name change. While Richard Bennehan believed he may have called himself Charles Thompson or Charles Fry, Scrub could have chosen a different name in order to evade his pursuers. Changing his name was one way Scrub ensured and protected his life as a freeperson.

Pictured is the 1784 advert placed by Richard Bennehan for the capture and return of Scrub.

Historic Stagville:
Instagram: @historicstagville
Facebook: @Stagville
Twitter: @HistStagville

Somerset Place State Historic Site - Dave Phelps (b. 1812)

As we continue to say the names of African Americans associated with Somerset Place, we wanted to share more information about Dave Phelps (b. 1812). Dave was documented as living in the second two-story slave dwelling at Somerset Place in 1843. Two years later, Dave married widow Dinah Baum and they started a family of their own.  

Tragically, each of their three children passed away at or before the age of 2. The heartbreak of losing young children was all-too familiar to the enslaved families at Somerset Place. Between 1839 and 1862, the chapel register recorded the deaths of 144 children under 9 years old. 

Somerset Place State Historic Site:
Instagram: @somersetplaceshs
Facebook: @somersetplace
Twitter: @somersetplacehs
YouTube: @SomersetPlaceHS      

 

Somerset Place State Historic Site - Wellington Roberts

As a part of Somerset Place State Historic Site's  #TrueInclusion campaign, we would like to share more information about Wellington Roberts (1815-1866). Wellington was born in Edenton in 1815 and arrived at Somerset Place about 15 years later with Josiah III and Mary Collins. He served as their personal coachman and drove the Collins’ large barouche, or family carriage. On July 8, 1841, Wellington married Maria, a granddaughter of Suckey Davis. Together they eventually had seven children. 

Wellington's position meant that the Roberts family was at the top of the enslaved community’s social hierarchy, as determined by the Collins family. This is why they were recorded in 1843 as living by themselves in one of the first-floor houses of the third two-story slave dwelling when usually more than one family unit occupied each home. As a result of his social status, Wellington also wore high-quality, fancy clothing, including a top hat with a large plume on the side, and he once received a Christmas pass to visit family in Edenton. 

However, Wellington was often away from his family for long periods of time because the Collinses traveled frequently. This continued during the Civil War when he accompanied the Collins family to Hillsborough while Maria and their five surviving children were sent to Franklin County. Tragically, Maria passed away in 1863. When Mary Collins could no longer afford the luxury of a coachmen, she hired out Wellington as a teamster to the Confederate Army for the following two years.

After emancipation, Wellington and his children returned to Somerset Place where he continued to work as the family driver until his death on October 16, 1866. Due to their closer association with the Collins family, the Roberts were communicants of the Episcopal Church both before and after emancipation. Wellington's son Theodore and other members of his immediate family were founding members of St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Edenton in the late 19th century. Additionally, like other formerly enslaved people, Wellington’s family quickly took advantage of educational opportunities previously denied to them under slavery. Two of his grandchildren were enrolled in school by 1870, and later generations became public school teachers. 

Somerset Place State Historic Site:
Instagram: @somersetplaceshs
Facebook: @somersetplace
Twitter: @somersetplacehs
YouTube: @SomersetPlaceHS      

 

North Carolina State Capitol - Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper

As we continue to say the names of African Americans associated with the NC State Capitol, we wanted to share more about Dr. Anna Julia Haywood Cooper. Cooper was born enslaved on August 10, 1858, in Raleigh, NC. Her mother was Hannah Stanley, an enslaved Black woman, and her father was most likely George Washington Haywood, her mother’s enslaver. Cooper was freed from enslavement in 1865, when the 13th Amendment was ratified by the North Carolina State Legislature at the Capitol. At an early age, she showed extraordinary promise and intellect. By the age of eight Cooper was a “pupil teacher” at Raleigh’s St. Augustine’s Normal and Collegiate Institute, a school opened for the education of free Black people. In 1881 Cooper, who already knew Greek, Latin, and mathematics, was admitted to Oberlin College, where she earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees.

In 1892, Cooper founded the Colored Women’s League of Washington. Later, she helped open the first branch of the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA) that catered to Black women. In the 1890s, she wrote and published her landmark text A Voice From The South, in which she argued that the moral, political, and economic advancement of Black women would aid in advancing American society as a whole. Cooper eloquently stated that “a bridge is no stronger than its weakest part, and a cause is not worthier than its weakest element. Least of all can woman’s cause afford to decry the weak. We want, then, as toilers for the universal triumph of justice and human rights, to go to our homes from this Congress demanding an entrance not through a gateway for ourselves, our race, our sex, or our sect, but a grand highway for humanity.” As an American folklorist, Cooper observed society and the intersecting issues of race and gender. At the age of 67, Cooper earned her Ph.D. from the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Dr. Cooper spent her life as an educator, an activist, and an outspoken feminist. She died in 1964 at the age of 105. Her funeral service was held at St. Augustine’s Chapel, and she was laid to rest in Raleigh’s City Cemetery, a half mile east of the State Capitol.

North Carolina State Capitol:
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North Carolina State Capitol - Ella Baker

In the next installment of our True Inclusion campaign, we wanted to share more information about Ella Baker. Baker was born on December 13, 1903 in Virginia and moved to North Carolina at the age of eight. When she was fifteen, Baker began attending Shaw University in Raleigh, just blocks from the Capitol. She graduated from both high school and college at Shaw.

Baker moved to New York City and then worked for the Works Progress Administration. In 1938, she began working with the national office of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), starting as a field secretary and eventually rising to the position of a director of NAACP branches. In 1957, Baker moved to Atlanta to help organize the newly formed Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and their voter registration program.

After witnessing the sit-ins led by North Carolina A&T University students in Greensboro, Baker recognized an urgent need to organize young people and students to engage in civil rights activism. In April of 1960, she returned to Shaw University to speak at a youth leadership conference. At this conference, Baker helped form the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), an organization designed to harness the power of student-led protests. With Baker’s assistance and direction, SNCC organized the Freedom Rides in the summer of 1961, sending activists into the South on interstate buses to challenge segregation. As Freedom Riders came through North Carolina, and as more sit-ins and voter registration drives were held in the state by SNCC and other groups, Governor Terry Sanford was pressured to reevaluate his formerly quiet stance on civil rights protests. In 1963, Sanford called 150 Black civic leaders to the State Capitol to discuss growing civil rights concerns.

Ella Baker spent her career - which spanned five decades - challenging racist, classist, and sexist notions about who should and could lead the Black freedom struggle. Her work organizing SNCC, coordinating voter registration drives, empowering community leaders, and building local grassroots movements increased the reach and impact of the Civil Rights Movement. By forcing Americans to confront racial injustices and pursue a more democratic nation, Baker and other activists compelled reluctant NC politicians to speak out on civil rights issues, leading to changes in legislation and increased Black [and/or minority] representation in government. Baker once said, “Remember, we are not fighting for the freedom of the Negro alone, but for the freedom of the human spirit, a larger freedom that encompasses all mankind.” Ella Baker died on December 13, 1986 in New York City.

North Carolina State Capitol:
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North Carolina State Capitol - Abraham Galloway

As we continue to say the names of African Americans associated with the NC State Capitol, we wanted to share more about Abraham Galloway. Galloway was born into slavery in 1837 in Brunswick County, NC, the son of Hester Hankins, a seventeen-year-old enslaved woman and John Wesley Galloway, a white ship captain. After escaping slavery in Canada in 1857, Galloway returned to North Carolina in 1862 to become a spy for the Union during the Civil War. By early 1863, Galloway had become eastern North Carolina’s most important spokesman for the rights of African Americans, and when the war ended, he traveled across North Carolina, advocating for equal rights and helping to organize the 1865 Freedmen’s Convention.

Known for his fiery oration and his passion when speaking on equality and political rights, in 1867 Galloway said, “There is a bright future before us - the day of rejoicing is at hand - Let us stand united - let there be no divisions. Let us shout that we are a people, and that our freedom is not a bar to our advancement. Let the work go on, and be hopeful, for the Great Jehovah still hears the prayers of the downtrodden.” New Hanover County chose him to attend the 1868 state Constitutional Convention and elected him to two consecutive terms in the North Carolina Senate, where he supported women’s suffrage and labor rights. He died unexpectedly of fever at the age of 33 in 1870 and was still serving in the state senate at the time of his death. Six thousand people attended Galloway’s funeral, an event the Christian Recorder, a newspaper, called “the largest ever known in this state.” #TrueInclusion

North Carolina State Capitol:
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North Carolina State Capitol - George Henry White

As we continue to say the names of African Americans associated with the NC State Capitol, we wanted to share more about George Henry White. White was born near present-day Rosindale, NC on December 18, 1852. It is possible that he was born enslaved and that his father, Wiley White, purchased his freedom, but evidence for this is contradictory. As a child, White attended a public school for free Black children and also studied under a teacher named David P. Allen at the Whitin Normal School in Lumberton, NC. White was encouraged to pursue his education and in 1874, began attending Howard University. After finishing school, he traveled to New Bern and became a teacher and lawyer. In 1880, he ran for a seat in the North Carolina House of Representatives, campaigning for increased spending on African American education. He served in the House for six years before being elected to the state’s senate.
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In 1896, North Carolinians elected White to the U.S. House of Representatives, where he became the last African American to be elected to that legislative body for forty years. In Congress, White fought against racial discrimination and tried without success to compel the federal government to enforce the Fourteenth Amendment in states like North Carolina, where African Americans were being denied the right to vote. In 1901, he proposed a bill making lynching a federal crime, arguing that the majority of lynchings in the Deep South were of African Americans. The House defeated the bill, and White’s outspoken position cost him his seat. He delivered his final speech to the House in 1901 saying, “This is perhaps the Negroes' temporary farewell to the American Congress, but let me say, Phoenix-like he will rise up some day and come again. These parting words are in behalf of an outraged, heart-broken, bruised and bleeding, but God-fearing people; faithful, industrious, loyal, rising people – full of potential force.”
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White moved with his family to Washington, D.C. and later to Philadelphia, where he practiced law and became involved in banking. He continued to fight for the rights of African Americans and was an early member of the NAACP, after that organization’s founding in 1909. White died in 1918 at his Philadelphia home.
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After George Henry White’s term, North Carolina would not elect another African American to Congress until Eva Clayton was elected to the House of Representatives in 1992. #TrueInclusion

North Carolina State Capitol:
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