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Recognizing Carolina’s black pioneers

The Black Pioneers Project brought the stories and challenges of the first black students at Carolina back to life.

The stories and challenges of the first black students to attend the Carolina were brought back to life this month with a performance of the Black Pioneers Project on Feb. 9.

Black Pioneers was based on personal accounts recorded by the Southern Oral History Program. The interviews reveal remarkable stories of individuals overcoming discrimination to effect lasting change at Carolina.

Performed by professional actors, Black Pioneers highlighted individuals including Karen Parker, who was the first African-American women to enroll at Carolina, and John Sellars, an early member of the Black Student Movement who participated in the cafeteria worker’s strike to protest the working conditions, low pay and lack of benefits for the black cafeteria workers at the time.

For Aaron Epps, a Carolina senior and president of the Black Student Movement, the performance was emotional.

“We see the progress that we have made, yes, but we also see the ways we still have to go,” he said.

The performance was hosted by the Black Student Movement and the University’s Arts Everywhere initiative. In addition to Black Pioneers, the evening also included performances by student groups including the Harmonyx and a step group.