The Secret Game tells the incredible story of a Sunday morning in 1944 when the all-white Duke University military team from the Medical School traveled across town to North Carolina Central College for Negroes (now North Carolina Central University) and played a secret interracial basketball game. Under legendary coach John McLendon, the NCCU Eagles won the match-up. The players then continued to socialize and play a pick-up game that mixed players from each team.
Against the backdrop of World War II and the Jim Crow South, Ellsworth explores the way this extraordinary game came about, what it meant for the players involved, and how the details of this game were forgotten—and remembered. Ellsworth conducted research in the Duke University Archives, Duke University Medical Center Archives, and NCCU archives in writing the book.
Ellsworth will be introduced by Timothy B. Tyson, Duke University faculty member and author of Blood Done Sign My Name. The event will be followed by a book signing and reception in the Edge Lounge. Copies of The Secret Game will be available for sale by the Gothic Bookshop.
Charles “Chuck” Stone Jr. died on April 6 at the age of 89. Stone was a pioneering journalist, a long-time columnist with the Philadelphia Daily News, and co-founder and first president of the National Association of Black Journalists.
Among his notable career accomplishments, Stone was a Tuskegee Airmen during World War II, served as special assistant to Congressman Adam Clayton Powell Jr. from 1965-67, and was a key mediator between alleged criminals and the Philadelphia Police Department. Stone served as Walter Spearman Professor of Journalism at the University of Carolina-Chapel Hill from 1991-2005.
The Chuck Stone Papers were donated to the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture in 2004.
Post contributed by John Gartrell, Director of the John Hope Franklin Research Center for African and African American History and Culture.
Each Tuesday, PBS is showing the next installment of a six-part series,The African Americans: Many Rivers to Cross. Written and narrated by Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the documentary traces African American history from the shores of West Africa to the election of Barack Obama. Join us each week as we feature documents from the John Hope Franklin Research Center that resonate with the previous week’s episode.
Episode 3: Into the Fire (1861 – 1896) traced the tumultuous journeys of African Americans from slavery to freedom in the second half of the nineteenth century. The Civil War opened as a battle to preserve the Union, but as enslaved men and women flocked to Union lines searching for freedom, their actions transformed the war into one for emancipation.
Kate Foster, a white woman from Adams County, Mississippi, kept a diary during the Civil War. In this entry from July 16th, 1863, she writes about the slaves who abandoned their masters in pursuit of freedom with the union army.
At the conclusion of the war, freed black men and women set out to build new lives learning to read, buying land, building institutions, and raising families.
In this 1869 letter, African American minister Charles R. Edwardes introduces the Colored Men of the Mechanics and Laboring Men Association to John Emory Bryant, editor of radical Republican newspaper in Georgia. Rev. Edwardes explains how the organization wanted to help freed people buy land and homes.
After the 15th Amendment guaranteed black citizens’ right to vote, they used the ballot to elect African American city councilmen, state legislators, and congressmen to office. But white southern Democrats swiftly retaliated against these challenges through lynch mobs and violence at the ballot box, eroding African Americans’ newfound citizenship.
Mr. P. Joiner writes to Editor John Bryant in 1868 reporting the shooting of a black man by white democrats near Albany, Georgia. The white mob then continued on a rampage through the countryside, warning African Americans that it was “their country and they was going to rule it.” (John Emory Bryant Papers)
The 1890s brought a wave of state constitutional conventions across the South, aimed at systematically disfranchising black residents. These actions were buttressed by the Supreme Court’s Plessy v. Ferguson 1896 decision, supporting the principal of a separate but equal society and paving the way for legal racial segregation. As the twentieth century dawned, the full citizenship black Americans had so briefly experienced seemed like a distant hope.
Charles Hunter was born a slave in Raleigh in 1851 and spent his life pushing for the advancement of African Americans. In 1889, Hunter writes to the Postmaster General in Washington, D.C., protesting the white Raleigh postmaster’s refusal to appoint Hunter due to his race.
Exhibit Dates: October 24-December 20, 2013 Opening Reception: October 24, 2013, 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Location: The Porch of the Center for Documentary Studies, 1317 West Pettigrew Street, Durham (directions) Contact: John B. Gartrell, john.gartrell(at)duke.edu
Reflections Unheard: Black Women in Civil Rights focuses on black women activists and their marginalization within the Black Power and Feminist movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Filmmaker Nevline Nnaji looks at how each movement failed to fully recognize black women’s overlapping identities and include them as both African Americans and women. Through interviews and archival footage, Reflections Unheard tells the story of these black female activists’ political mobilization and fight for recognition.
The screening will be followed by a discussion with producer and director, Nevline Nnaji.
Part 1 of 2 in the Women in the Movement series is co-sponsored by John Hope Franklin Research Center, the Department of African & African American Studies, the Center for Documentary Studies, the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture, the Center for African and African American Research, the Franklin Humanities Institute, and the Program in Women’s Studies.
As the nation pauses and acknowledges the 50th anniversary of the August 28, 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, it is important to remember that this was not the first African American organized mass march movement on the National Mall. The leaders of the March on Washington of ’63, Bayard Rustin, Andrew Young, Roy Wilkins, and others, used a blueprint established by another notable African American leader, A. Phillip Randolph, only a generation before them.
While serving as head of the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters, Randolph proposed a March on Washington on July 1, 1941 to protest the lack of opportunities given to African Americans in a recovering American economy. As World War II waged in Europe and Asia, American industry saw remarkable growth as suppliers of arms and supplies to their diplomatic allies, but African Americans were largely shut out of both federal and private jobs. Randolph believed that a march on the nation’s capital would provide a stage to give voice to African Americans suffering from both economic and social prejudice. As the March on Washington movement grew, Randolph threatened President Franklin Roosevelt that close to 100,000 people would descend on the nation’s capital if change did not occur. The March was ultimately called off by Randolph after Roosevelt passed Executive Order 8801, ordering the prohibition of discrimination in defense industries.
Albert Parker’s Negroes March on Washington (1941) and The March on Washington, One Year After (1942), recount the MOW movement from that time. Parker, a staunch socialist, was indeed excited at the prospects of the March in 1941 and continual organization of African Americans against the federal government. But his 1942 publication reflected disappointment with Randolph’s actions in cancelling the march and acceptance of the Executive Order that was slow to desegregate the military and open jobs in the private sector.
Post contributed by John Gartrell, John Hope Franklin Research Center Director.
The Dykes Family Letters are an intimate exchange of correspondence between two African American servicemen during World War II. Nearly 40 letters from Private Leo Dykes, 5th Marine Ammunition Company to his brother Lawyer Dykes of Akron, Ohio describe his experiences serving from Camp Lejeune, NC to San Francisco to the Asian Pacific Islands from 1943-1945. The collection is augmented by a separate batch of 26 letters from Corporal Benjamin Peavy, 51st Aviation Squadron, to his sister Hattie Dykes, wife of Lawyer Dykes, while stationed at the Greenville Army Flying School in Greenville, MS from 1942-1944.
The letters are an exceptional display of the close familial ties shared by both men to their relatives back at home during a time of war. Though neither Dykes nor Peavy saw active duty during the war, the two share their experiences serving as African Americans in a still segregated military.
Post contributed by John Gartrell, Director, John Hope Franklin Research Center.
This year, Duke commemorates the 50th anniversary of racial integration at the university, when in 1963 five African American students matriculated into the undergraduate program. Also in 1963, Pepsi sponsored the production of a record album, “Adventures in Negro History,” recently acquired by the John W. Hartman Center as part of the Douglass Alligood Papers. Alligood was one of the first black executives in the advertising industry, and is currently a Senior Vice President at BBDO agency. Long a champion for minority inclusion in the advertising business, Alligood chairs the BBDO’s Diversity Council, which advises management on diversity policies. He has also worked at RCA and for the minority-owned agency UniWorld Group. The record album contains dramatic readings by Detroit-based actors, including Jerry Blocker, Burniece Avery and Jiam Desjardins, which depicts the contributions of people of color to American history. Included are both the famous (Crispus Attucks, Phyllis Wheatley, Ralphe Bunche) and lesser known figures: Christopher Columbus’s pilot, Pedro Nino; Revolutionary War hero Salem Poor; and philanthropist Paul Cuffe.
Post contributed by Rick Collier, Technical Services Archivist.
Marley Braun recently contacted the Rubenstein Library because she wanted to find a proper home for a very peculiar “letter” that belonged to her great-grandmother, Mrs. Edna Balderston. Perhaps Mrs. Balderston was shocked when she opened the “letter” envelope to find that it actually contained two bills of sale for 3 slaves in Baltimore dated October 11, 1805. The slaves listed in the bills were named Elizabeth, age 20, Harriet (her daughter), 6 months, and Delilah, age 14, for a total of $493.
The slave bills stayed in the family for a few generations behind glass until Marley, a former 10-year Duke employee, and her husband Andy, ’92 Duke alum, decided the bill deserved a place where it could not only be cared for but shared with people interested in its history. Marley and her son Jason came to the Rubenstein this past week to donate the bill of sale and view other bills of sale currently held by the Rubenstein in the African American Miscellany Collection. The bills within this collection span from 1757-1863 and this new addition will further help document the experience of African Americans during the era of slavery; thanks to the Braun family, Marley, Andy, Jason, and Hayley for this fascinating addition to our collections.
Post contributed by John Gartrell, John Hope Franklin Research Center Director.
The Picture File is a collection that covers an expansive scope of visual history. With over 6,000 items spanning the 17th to 20th centuries, it is the kind of collection that makes mining the African American experience both exhaustive and exciting. This reality is best exemplified by the presence of this photograph located in the Geographic Series.
At first glance, the photograph is rather striking, if not disturbing. An African American man standing with hands shackled, surrounded by four uniformed white men. The back of the photo however describes a different story, “Members of the Georgia Hussars with [unidentified African American man] at Clyo, GA in 1908(?) to prevent lynching of prisoner.” The inscription further notes, “This negro afterward died of tuberculosis and syphilis in Chatham County Jail while awaiting a new trial on appeal.”
The historical record of local protection against the lynching of African Americans is indeed a controversial one. But this interesting image at least captures the actual presence of authorities standing guard against violence against this incarcerated man.