The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Law, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2022-05-05 01:33Z by Steven

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts

University of Georgia Press
2022-05-01
224 pages
Illustrations: 11 b&w
Trim size: 6.000in x 9.000in
Hardcover ISBN: 9-780-8203-6192-5
Paperback ISBN: 9-780-8203-6193-2

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

This book explores the life and contributions of groundbreaking attorney, Elreta Melton Alexander Ralston (1919-98). In 1945 Alexander became the first African American woman to graduate from Columbia Law School. In 1947 she was the first African American woman to practice law in the state of North Carolina, and in 1968 she became the first African American woman to become an elected district court judge. Despite her accomplishments, Alexander is little known to scholars outside of her hometown of Greensboro, North Carolina. Her life and career deserve recognition, however, not just because of her impressive lists of “firsts,” but also owing to her accomplishments during the civil rights movement in the U.S. South.

While Alexander did not actively participate in civil rights marches and demonstrations, she used her professional achievements and middle-class status to advocate for individuals who lacked a voice in the southern legal system. Virginia L. Summey argues that Alexander was integral to the civil rights movement in North Carolina as she, and women like her, worked to change discriminatory laws while opening professional doors for other minority women. Using her professional status, Alexander combatted segregation by demonstrating that Black women were worthy and capable of achieving careers alongside white men, thereby creating environments in which other African Americans could succeed. Her legal expertise and ability to reach across racial boundaries made her an important figure in Greensboro history.

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Jennifer A. Jones: Afro-Mexicans, Migration, and the Permutations of Race

Posted in Audio, Caribbean/Latin America, Media Archive, Social Science, United States on 2022-03-25 21:21Z by Steven

Jennifer A. Jones: Afro-Mexicans, Migration, and the Permutations of Race

Dialogues in Afrolatinidad
Season 1, Episode 3
2021-05-31

Michele Reid-Vazquez, Host and Associate Professor
Department of Africana Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Dialogues in Afrolatinidad explores history, culture, and contemporary issues in Afro-Latin America and U.S.-Afro-Latinx communities. The podcast features interviews with scholars, writers, educators, artists, and community leaders who share their passion for Afro-Latin American and Afro-Latinx Studies, the significance of their intellectual, creative, or community engagement, and resources for learning more.

This episode features Dr. Jennifer A. Jones, a native of Chicago and a sociologist specializing in contemporary transnational Afro-Mexican studies. She discusses the way race is made in Latin America through her experiences in both Cuba and Mexico, as well as the broader impact of space, politics, and mobility on racial constructions throughout the U.S. She also highlights her recent book, The Browning of the New South, which explores blackness and anti-blackness in Mexico, the current migration of Afro-Mexicans to North Carolina, and their reformulations of race in the U.S. South.

Listen to the episode (00:34:06) here. Download the episode here.

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Descendant of Alex Manly talks about modern impact of 1898 Massacre

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States, Videos on 2022-02-22 03:38Z by Steven

Descendant of Alex Manly talks about modern impact of 1898 Massacre

WECT News 6
Wilmington, North Carolina
2021-11-10

Mara McJilton, Multimedia Journalist

Alex Manly was the owner of The Daily Record newspaper in 1898 when it was burned down by white supremacists

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) –Alex Manly was the owner of The Daily Record newspaper in 1898 when it was burned down by white supremacists.

Now, 123 years later, descendants of Manly are still trying to piece together what happened on November 10, 1898.

“The real, real granular details, the real truth of it — it’s been an ongoing experience and process,” said Alex Manly’s great-great-grandson Kieran Haile.

Haile has had a vague understanding of the 1898 Massacre since he was a teenager, but it wasn’t until about five years ago when he was nearing his 30′s that he really started to take a deep dive into history and learn more about this horrific day…

Read and watch the entire story here.

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Abraham Galloway is the Black figure from the Civil War you should know about

Posted in Articles, Audio, Biography, History, Media Archive, Slavery, United States, Videos on 2022-02-13 02:46Z by Steven

Abraham Galloway is the Black figure from the Civil War you should know about

All Things Considered
National Public Radio
2022-02-08

Elizabeth Blair, Senior Producer/Reporter, Arts Desk

Engraved portrait of Abraham Galloway from William Still’s The Underground Railroad, published in 1872.
William Still’s ‘The Underground Railroad,’ 1872

He has been compared to James Bond and Malcolm X, though his name has largely been left out of the history books.

Abraham Galloway was an African American who escaped enslavement in North Carolina, became a Union spy during the Civil War and recruited Black soldiers to fight with the North. That’s the short version. The fuller picture would include his work as a revolutionary and being one of the first African Americans elected to the North Carolina Senate.

David Cecelski, author of The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War, calls him a “swashbuckling figure who wouldn’t take sass from Northern or Southern or Black or white, Union or Confederate.”

When Cecelski was doing research for another book about maritime slavery, he kept coming across Galloway’s name. “And the stories were sort of so different than what I had been taught about slavery or the Civil War, or the role of African Americans in the Civil War,” he says…

Read or listen to the story (00:05:07) here.

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The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War

Posted in Biography, Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs, Slavery, United States on 2022-02-13 02:37Z by Steven

The Fire of Freedom: Abraham Galloway and the Slaves’ Civil War

University of North Carolina Press
September 2012
352 pages
17 halftones, 4 maps, notes, bibl., index
6.125 x 9.25
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2190-6
eBook ISBN: 978-0-8078-3812-9

David S. Cecelski

AWARDS & DISTINCTIONS

  • 2012 North Caroliniana Book Award, The North Caroliniana Society
  • Ragan Old North State Award, North Carolina Literary and Historical Association

Abraham H. Galloway (1837-1870) was a fiery young slave rebel, radical abolitionist, and Union spy who rose out of bondage to become one of the most significant and stirring black leaders in the South during the Civil War. Throughout his brief, mercurial life, Galloway fought against slavery and injustice. He risked his life behind enemy lines, recruited black soldiers for the North, and fought racism in the Union army’s ranks. He also stood at the forefront of an African American political movement that flourished in the Union-occupied parts of North Carolina, even leading a historic delegation of black southerners to the White House to meet with President Lincoln and to demand the full rights of citizenship. He later became one of the first black men elected to the North Carolina legislature.

Long hidden from history, Galloway’s story reveals a war unfamiliar to most of us. As David Cecelski writes, “Galloway’s Civil War was a slave insurgency, a war of liberation that was the culmination of generations of perseverance and faith.” This riveting portrait illuminates Galloway’s life and deepens our insight into the Civil War and Reconstruction as experienced by African Americans in the South.

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Unsung hero: As a pioneering attorney and judge, Elreta Alexander-Ralston left indelible mark on civil rights, criminal justice reform

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2022-01-20 19:21Z by Steven

Unsung hero: As a pioneering attorney and judge, Elreta Alexander-Ralston left indelible mark on civil rights, criminal justice reform

The News & Record
Greensboro, North Carolina
2021-12-19

Nancy McLaughlin

Historian and UNCG professor Virginia Summey’s biography of Elreta Melton Alexander-Ralston goes back to the history-making judge’s childhood, including her years at Dudley High School and N.C. A&T.
News & Record archives

GREENSBORO — Former attorney and District Court Judge Elreta Alexander-Ralston was known for the sheer force of her personality and style.

Outspoken. Flamboyant. Fierce. Unforgettable. Bold. She had an air of authority about her that left no doubt who was in charge.

And oh the stories, said historian and UNCG fellow Virginia Summey, the author of a new biography of the history-making judge.

“I can’t imagine I will have as much fun on another book,” Summey said.

Summey was watching an oral-history interview with Alexander-Ralston when she heard the judge say she hired legendary attorney F. Lee Bailey to defend her over a judicial complaint.

“She would say something in her oral history and I could say, that could not be true,” Summey said. “But it was.”

With Bailey, it was the drama of her driving to Massachusetts and showing up at his front door, Summey said.

“I called him right before he died and he was like, ‘Oh yeah, Elreta…,” Summey said, of the story he would go on to tell about her hiring him.

The Life of Elreta Melton Alexander: Activism within the Courts” is available through pre-order from the University of Georgia Press and includes her years at Dudley High School and N.C. A&T. Alexander-Ralston built her legal reputation as Elreta Alexander.

Alexander-Ralston died in 1998 and is remembered for an unusual career pioneering legal reform among an impressive list of firsts, including the first Black woman in the nation to sit on the bench who was elected by voters…

Read the entire article here.

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Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

Posted in Books, History, Media Archive, Monographs on 2021-10-11 18:22Z by Steven

Beyond Slavery’s Shadow: Free People of Color in the South

University of North Carolina Press
October 2021
76 pages
6.125 x 9.25
14 halftones, notes, bibl., index
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-6439-2
Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-4696-6438-5

Warren Eugene Milteer Jr., Assistant Professor of History
University of North Carolina, Greensboro

On the eve of the Civil War, most people of color in the United States toiled in bondage. Yet nearly half a million of these individuals, including over 250,000 in the South, were free. In Beyond Slavery’s Shadow, Warren Eugene Milteer Jr. draws from a wide array of sources to demonstrate that from the colonial period through the Civil War, the growing influence of white supremacy and proslavery extremism created serious challenges for free persons categorized as “negroes,” “mulattoes,” “mustees,” “Indians,” or simply “free people of color” in the South. Segregation, exclusion, disfranchisement, and discriminatory punishment were ingrained in their collective experiences. Nevertheless, in the face of attempts to deny them the most basic privileges and rights, free people of color defended their families and established organizations and businesses.

These people were both privileged and victimized, both celebrated and despised, in a region characterized by social inconsistency. Milteer’s analysis of the way wealth, gender, and occupation intersected with ideas promoting white supremacy and discrimination reveals a wide range of social interactions and life outcomes for the South’s free people of color and helps to explain societal contradictions that continue to appear in the modern United States.

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Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Law, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2021-10-02 02:13Z by Steven

Ralston, Elreta Melton Alexander

NCPedia
State Library of North Carolina
Raleigh, North Carolina
2013

Virginia L. Summey, Historian, Author, and Faculty Fellow
Lloyd International Honors College, University of North Carolina at Greensboro

Elreta Melton Alexander was a pioneering African-American attorney from Greensboro, North Carolina. Born in Smithfield, North Carolina, she was the daughter of a Baptist minister and a teacher, and grew up comfortably as a part of the black middle class. Coming of age during the Jim Crow period of the South, she was raised by her educated, middle-class parents to be a leader in the community. The descendant of two white grandparents, her bi-racialism formed her early awareness of colorism within the African-American community…

Read the entire article here.

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Aaron’s Book

Posted in Articles, Biography, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-08-10 19:39Z by Steven

Aaron’s Book

The Devil’s Tale: Dispatches from the Davin M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
2021-07-27

Blake Hill-Saya


Above: Portrait in oils of Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore painted by his daughter Lyda Moore Merrick. Located in the North Carolina Collection, Stanford L. Warren Branch of the Durham County Library, Durham, N.C.

Too often we relegate the lives of our ancestors to the basket of nostalgia. We think that because our modern times have dressed us up in different clothes and surrounded us with technology that the lives and struggles of our ancestors can’t speak with any real directness to ours. It is easy in the rush and rattle of the present to allow seasoned historians to define us in macrocosm while overlooking the importance of our own more granular history; a thread waiting to be pulled in the warp and woof of who we think we are. Libraries and historical archives exist to help us pull that thread and expand our understanding of history and our place in it.

Eight years ago, I was chosen by the Durham Colored Library board of directors, led by chairperson C. Eileen Watts Welch, to follow my own ancestral thread and write a biography of my great- great-grandfather, Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore. The dream of this historical biography of Durham’s first Black physician far predates my involvement; it actually predates me. Dr. Moore’s daughter, my great-grandmother, Lyda Moore Merrick, dreamed of a book about her Papa. My grandfather, Dr. Charles DeWitt Watts, a legendary surgeon and healthcare activist in his own right, also dreamed of this book. His dream inspired his daughter, C. Eileen Watts Welch, to make this biography a reality. The Durham Colored Library, an organization founded by Dr. Moore himself in 1913 and now a non-profit focused on uplifting Black narratives, sponsored the project…

Read the entire article here.

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Marvin Jones’ Winton Triangle research a personal journey

Posted in Articles, History, Media Archive, United States on 2021-07-14 17:57Z by Steven

Marvin Jones’ Winton Triangle research a personal journey

Coastal Review: A Daily News Service of the North Carolina Coastal Federation
Newport, North Carolina
2021-07-06

Kip Tabb


The Pleasant Plains Baptist Church founded in 1851 is one of the oldest multiracial congregations in North Carolina. The brick church, built in 1951, replaced the original wooden church. Photo: Kip Tabb

Marvin Jones, Chowan Discovery Group executive director, has made it his life’s work to document the history of a northeastern North Carolina community of color.

NORTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA — In 1845, North Carolina passed a law prohibiting free people of color from selling liquor. Fourteen years later, the law was expanded banning the sale of liquor to “… any free person of color, for cash, or in exchange for articles delivered, or upon any consideration whatever, or as a gift …”

Almost immediately, 55 white men from Hertford County requested an exemption. There does not seem to be a record of why the exemption was requested, but in his University of North Carolina Chapel Hill 2012 doctoral dissertation, Warren Milteer points out that “by 1860, approximately 1,000 free people of color resided in Hertford County, giving the county one of the largest free non-white populations in the state.”

The law, specifically calling out free people of color, highlights how complex the story of race in America is.

Not every person of color in the South was enslaved.

It is a point Marvin Tupper Jones, the executive director of the nonprofit volunteer preservation and research organization Chowan Discovery Group, explains in detail. A native of what he describes as the Winton Triangle in Hertford County, Jones traces his heritage to the late 17th century.

“My oldest named ancestor was from India. William Weaver shows up around 1690,” he told Coastal Review. Weaver was the father of biracial children who were free…

Read the entire article here.

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