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News Release

For immediate use

Jan. 2, 2007

Note: Events connected to the exhibit are listed below.

Photo: To download a photo, see end of story.

1960s student activism subject of
exhibit, programs at UNC Library

CHAPEL HILL - Newly available photographs of desegregation protests and sit-ins at Chapel Hill businesses will be among more than 100 items on display soon in Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“I Raised My Hand to Volunteer: Students Protest in 1960’s Chapel Hill,” an exhibit from Jan. 23 through May 31 in the manuscripts department, will examine the political ferment of the 1960s on campus and in the community.

A 1964 letter written on a paper towel by a protester locked in the county jail in Hillsborough and a 1965 letter from J. Edgar Hoover, which described the FBI’s stance regarding communists on college campuses, also will be among the documents, photographs and artifacts on display.

The exhibit and related programs, free and open to the public, are supported by a grant from UNC’s Diversity Incentive Fund, administered by Diversity and Multicultural Affairs in the Office of the Provost. Exhibit hours will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays.

A Jan. 23 lecture and three panel discussions, sponsored by the manuscripts department and Friends of the Library, will shed further light on this turbulent period in national and university history.

Panelists will include Julius Chambers, longtime civil rights attorney and director of the UNC School of Law’s Center for Civil Rights; William Friday, president of the 16-campus University of North Carolina during the 1960s; Karen Parker, the first black female to graduate from UNC; and others who participated in events of the time. Current UNC undergraduates will comment on parallels they see with student activism today.

Tim West, manuscripts curator and director of the Southern Historical Collection in Wilson, said the exhibit will be organized around the following four critical issues that mobilized students in the ’60s:

West said the depth of activity about racial issues was “highly unusual for a flagship public university in the South.”

Dr. Peter Filene, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term Professor in the UNC history department, said that enduring changes in sexual culture and racial attitudes date to this period, as do students’ expectation that they should have a voice in campus decisions. Filene will speak at the exhibit opening on Jan. 23.

Student demonstrations helped inspire passage of the Speaker Ban Law; later actions by students, who invited communist Herbert Aptheker to campus in 1966, led to the judicial overturning of the law in 1968.

West said he wanted to focus of the exhibit and programs on the role of students. “Standing up and taking action is a real legacy of this university,” he said. “Ordinary people on both sides of these issues did courageous things to support the causes they believed in. That still goes on today, even if the issues have changed.”

Because this type of activism is an integral part of the university’s identity, said West, UNC’s library should archive and elucidate that history. An endowment to help the library document social change was established in 2003 under the leadership of UNC alumna Faryl Sims Moss of Atlanta, who graduated in 1966.

Augmented by gifts from the Oregon-based Kuse Foundation and private donors, the endowment is being used to identify and bring to UNC’s libraries materials that can help students and scholars understand the 1960s and the phenomenon of citizen activism. The library is interested in diaries, correspondence and photos that provide unique or rare perspectives on the era, West said.

The initiative is unusual among research libraries, he said, but UNC is unusual in its history. “A lot of people got their start as activists right here,” he said. “We hope this exhibit and the programs around it will get people thinking about that past, how we can preserve it and what we can learn from it.”

Tim McMillan, professor of African and Afro-American studies at UNC, will assign students in his “Blacks in North Carolina” class to view the exhibit and attend panel discussions.

“I hope they learn that UNC is not just a place to study and research, but also a place to be studied and researched,” he said. “The university and the town of Chapel Hill were active participants, for good and bad, in the history of North Carolina.”

For information about the exhibit, call (919) 962-1345. Information also is online at http://www.lib.unc.edu/mss/exhibits/protests/. For information about programs, contact Liza Terll (919) 962-4207 or liza_terll@unc.edu).

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Events for “I Raised my Hand to Volunteer: Students Protest in 1960s Chapel Hill”

Jan. 23, 5 p.m. Wilson Library. Reception and exhibit opening.

Jan. 23, 6 p.m., Wilson Library. “Personally Authentic: Carolina Student Protesters in the Sixties,” lecture by Dr. Peter Filene, Bowman and Gordon Gray Distinguished Term professor, UNC history department. Filene, who began teaching at UNC in 1967, will draw on his own experiences as well as his research and teaching about the political movements of the era and student activism in general.

Jan. 30,  5:30-7 p.m. Wilson Library. “Pressing the Hold-Outs: The Desegregation Sit-Ins of 1963-64,” panel discussion moderated by Sally Greene, Chapel Hill Town Council Member and UNC adjunct law professor. Panelists will be:

Feb. 6,  5:30-7 p.m., Wilson Library. “Speaking Out-of-Bounds: Communism, Race, Intellectual Freedom and the Speaker Ban Controversy of the Mid-Sixties,” panel discussion moderated by Ferrel Guillory, director, UNC Program on Public Life. Panelists will be:

Feb. 13, 5:30-7 p.m., seminar room, Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History. “Stomping Down: The Food Workers Strike of 1969 and the Black Student Movement,” sponsored by the UNC Library and the Stone Center. Panel discussion moderated by Dr. Archie Ervin, associate provost for diversity and multicultural affairs at UNC. Panelists will be:

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Photo URL: http://www.unc.edu/news/pics/desegregation.JPG
Cutline: Students, faculty, and townspeople picket in front of Colonial Drug on West Franklin St., summer, 1963. Photo by Jim Wallace, UNC class of 1964. John Ehle Papers, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Library contacts: Tim West, (919) 962-1345, timwest@email.unc.edu; Judith Panitch, (919) 962-1301, panitch@email.unc.edu
News Services contact: L.J. Toler, (919) 962-8589; broadcast, Karen Moon, (919) 962-8595