Monday, February 12, 2018

NBS at Risk: The 1973 Challenge of Neo-Black Society's Funding

In last week's Spartan Stories post, we looked at the 1967 Black Power Forum and its impact on the founding of UNCG's Neo-Black Society (NBS) in 1968. The founding of the NBS, however, did not come without controversy. Some students accused the NBS of "reverse racism," claiming that they refused to admit white students to the organization.

In February 1973, six white UNCG students filed a complaint with the Student Government Association's Committee on Classification of Organizations, calling for the revocation of NBS's standing as a financially-supported student organization. At the time, NBS had a membership of approximately 145 students. This petition cited two major complaints from those students regarding NBS membership and activities. At least four of the six petitioners were current Student Government Association (SGA) senators.

Two students in the NBS Lounge, 1973
The bulk of the petition focused on a claim that NBS was in violation of SGA bylaws due to "a direct link between NBS and YOBU -- a Black Separatist, anti-White group." YOBU (the Youth Organization for Black Unity, previously the Student Organization for Black Unity) was a Greensboro-based group that formed in 1969, growing out of the Black Power Movement. The petitioners claimed that YOBU "is limited to Black persons only," and, due to their alleged affiliation, NBS would limit its membership too. The petitioners noted that this violated SGA bylaws requiring organizations to "be open to any and all undergraduates." It also claims that UNCG's support of the NBS "placed both UNC-G and NBS very possibly in violation of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, given NBS's association with YOBU."

On Sunday, February 25, 1973, a hearing was held by the SGA Committee on Classification of Organizations to investigate the claims made in the petition. The Committee determined that the petitioners statements did not meet the burden for reclassifying NBS and revoking its funding. Specifically in regards to affiliation with YOBU, the Committee stated that "no direct link has been proven to exist between the NBS and YOBU for the 1972-1973 school year," noting that the only evidence that the petitioners brought forth in support of this claim was that an NBS member "had her way paid to a YOBU open state conference with funds provided for her by NBS."

The Committee also found that additional claims of membership limitations based on race did not violate SGA bylaws. The Committee did suggest a small wording change for the NBS constitution to clarify the organization's intent, noting that the current wording of the NBS constitution "might induce misapprehension in the minds of those uninitiated in the intricacies of constitutional legality." Specifically, the Committee recommended replacing the sentence "Members and their invited guests may attend" to "Meetings must be open to the entire student body unless business pertinent only to NBS membership is being considered." You can read the full decision by the Committee here.

A full meeting of the Student Senate was held on March 20 to discuss the Neo-Black Society. Additionally, "open" and "executive" Senate sessions took place on March 26 and 27. In these sessions, SGA "heard appeals, rebuttals, and counter-rebuttals from delegations representing both the Neo-Black Society and the Senate." A Senate vote was taken over the NBS funding, and, acting counter to the findings of the Committee on Classifications of Organizations, the Senate voted to reclassify the NBS, removing its funding and rights to use university facilities.

A scuffle ensued in the Senate chambers after the decision was handed down. At least one student received treatment at a hospital after the incident. One Neo-Black Society member was later found guilty of assault by the Greensboro District Court. On the night of March 27, hundreds of students gathered at the Mossman Building for a sit-in demonstration to protest the Student Senate's decision. Estimates of student participation on that first night of demonstration are as high as 750 (including both black and white students).

Letter from Ferguson to NBS Coordinator Leon Chestnut
stating his decision to invalidate the SGA decision, Mach 31, 1973
Chancellor James Ferguson immediately convened a faculty committee to investigate the Senate's actions. An official report from the committee was filed with Chancellor Ferguson on March 31, advising "that the reclassification of the Neo-Black Society by the Student Senate was not justified. The Committee finds that the evidence presented did not establish the validity of the substantive charges. Furthermore, the Senate's procedure in dealing with the charges against the Neo-Black Society involved such serious improprieties as to limit the rights of the Society under rules of due process and fairness." Specifically, the report found that "new evidence of a substantial nature was introduced during the executive session, beyond the scrutiny of the NBS representative." It also reported that the Senate questionably chose to exclude NBS and Senate member Donna Benson from voting on the issue, while allowing four other Senators who had been original petitioners to vote.

This, however, did not end the question of funding and status for the Neo-Black Society at UNCG. Check back next week to learn more about the SGA reactions to Ferguson's faculty committee report and the ensuing legal procedures.

Monday, February 5, 2018

The Founding Years of UNCG's Neo-Black Society, 1968-1973

In November 1967, UNCG hosted a Black Power Forum, organized in large part by the UNCG Student Government Association to "inform students and faculty members of this movement and its actions and to give us a chance to discuss Black Power, its history, its political and social implications for us and the nation." The forum was organized around three topics: "Black Power past and present," "the ghetto," and "Black Power and the self-image of the Negro." Speakers from across the country were brought in for presentations and discussions held in Cone Ballroom.


This event on UNCG's campus took place in the midst of major national protests, riots, and changes. African American students at UNCG began discussing the need for a formally-recognized student organization to represent their needs and issues. As Marie Darr Scott (class of 1970) noted in her 2011 oral history interview, "this Black Power Forum was just—I mean, it just opened up a whole new thought and mind for the black students at UNCG ... Not everyone got involved but almost all of the black students were interested in forming a black student organization on campus."

At the start of the 1968-1969 academic year, students officially petitioned for and received university recognition for the Neo-Black Society (NBS). The NBS stated three major goals of the organization: "1) to help in voter registration drives, 2) to work with the Greensboro United Tutorial Service (a community group aimed at connecting college students with community educational efforts), and 3) to try to help establish an Afro-American history course on this campus." An October 18, 1968, editorial article in The Carolinian student newspaper reported that the organization was "a group of students who are willing to work within the framework of our society to bring about constructive and much-needed change."

From the outset, there were tensions; some students accused the NBS of "reverse racism." But the NBS continued pushing towards its stated goals and mission of working for change. In 1968, the NBS was recognized by UNCG's Student Government Association (SGA), meaning it was able to acquire funding from the university to support its work and events.

In 1971, the NBS received lounge space in Elliott Hall following a petition drive which garnered 106 signatures. The petition itself stated that "the lounge can serve the following three basic functions: a) the lounge will provide an atmosphere conducive for a united effort towards educating ourselves in respect to those elements of our culture that are beyond the traditional realms of the university curriculum, b) it will develop a cultural awareness of those artistic accomplishments of Black people that should be used to further the cultural enrichment of this campus, and c) it will provide a positive atmosphere that will enable Black students to enter into meaningful relationships which we believe will alleviate the following problems of Black students on this campus: 1) the lack of social activities that are appealing to Black students, 2) the lack of appeal to prospective and incoming Black students, and 3) the lack of an atmosphere that is beneficial in alleviating the tensions and the apprehensions caused by our position as a minority group on this campus."

Two students in the NBS lounge in late 1971

By 1973, however, the allocation of student funds to NBS was questioned by several white students who claimed that the organization was in violation of the SGA constitution and by-laws because it "discouraged white membership" and was allegedly affiliated with a "national militant organization." In next week's Spartan Stories blog post, we will explore this challenge to the NBS's funding.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Campus Maps Part II

In an earlier blog post, we looked at maps drawn by students and alumnae of The Woman's College of the University of North Carolina (now UNCG). In this blog post, we'll look at some more diverse campus maps found within our collections!

Changes on campus can be traced by maps that show the university's relationship to the community and transportation. The following two parking maps show the growth of the campus and the increase in parking areas on campus.
1975 Campus Parking Map
It is also interesting to note that many former roads that cut through campus are now restricted and used primarily as pedestrian walkways- an example of changing campus policy in action reflected on maps!
2006-2007 Campus Parking Map
 The need for parking maps at school with a large commuter population is obvious and it's important for those maps to be accurate. But we also have maps that are more fanciful and even metaphorical!
Map from 1948 Pine Needles Yearbook
The map featured on the 1948 Pine Needles Yearbook endpapers contains a reasonable facsimile of campus at the time, but notice the scale used. "Four Years Equals One Degree" The first clue that this map may be a little more tongue-in-cheek than others is that it is labeled "A Curry Smoke-Stack View of Campus." There is, in fact, a student standing on the smoke stack with a spyglass, surveying the school. Fanciful descriptions are also used alongside typical names you might find on any campus map. The cars in front of Foust are labelled "Faculty Jalopies." An area near the athetic fields is labelled "W.C.'s Coney Island" and the area behind Weil-Winfield is labelled "The Country Club."
WCUNC Home Economics Club Campus Map, circa 1935
This whimsical map dating from around 1935 was drawn by Emma Lee Aderholt and sponsored by the Home Economics Club. It not only shows the buildings and grounds of the campus at the time, but also includes many clues as to campus activities. You will find the Botany class in front of the Foust Building (marked "Admin" on this map), as well as a depiction of some of the May Day activities. In front of Old McIver Memorial Building, you can just make out a "Freshie" (freshman student) washing the statue of Charles D. McIver. There is a P.J. party taking place in Peabody Park. UNCG Auditorium (Aycock Auditorium at that time) is the site of "The Saddest Day of All"- Graduation Day.
1911 Map from Carolinian Yearbook
Not all maps represent actual physical places. "The Pscientist's Progress" is a map that appeared in the 1911 Carolinian yearbook. This student drawn map shows the perilous journey of those brave students who ventured onto the path of Bachelor of Science degrees at the school. Courses and subjects are presented as dangerous milestones that must be transcended to achieve the student's final destination-their degree.

Monday, January 22, 2018

The Speaker Ban Law and the Controversy over Academic Freedom at North Carolina Universities

On June 26, 1963, just before session adjournment, the North Carolina legislature ratified H.B. 1395, titled "an act to regulate visiting speakers at state supported colleges and universities." This bill decreed that no college or university receiving state funding in North Carolina was allowed to host a speaker who "(A) is a known member of the Communist Party; (B) is known to advocate the overthrow of the constitution of the United States or the state of North Carolina; [or] (C) has pleaded the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States of America in refusing to answer any question, with respect to communist or subversive connections, or activities." The act required the Boards of Trustees at these schools to enforce these restrictions.


Carolinian article regarding Student Government's
stance on Speaker Ban, Nov. 1, 1963
According to many reports, the bill and its passage came as a surprise to many, including key administrators in and across the Consolidated University of North Carolina System (which at the time, consisted of the University at Chapel Hill, N.C. State in Raleigh, and Woman's College -- soon to be UNCG). As detailed in a speech by UNCG Student Government President Anne Prince in October 1963, UNC President William Friday "was first notified of the existence of the bill just after it was introduced on the floor of the House, and before he could get to Raleigh, just 31 minutes later, a new law had been passed."

Administrators, faculty, staff, and students at the UNC System schools lambasted the bill, known as the Speaker Ban Law, as an assault on academic freedom. At UNCG, the Student Government passed numerous resolutions condemning the bill. Chancellor Otis Singletary joined President Friday and the leaders of the other two UNC campuses to speak out against the Speaker Ban Law. Faculty and key administrators across campus wrote legislators demanding a repeal of the law.

In a November 15, 1963 letter to President Friday, Herman Middleton, head of UNCG's Department of Drama and Speech, wrote about how he was unable to bring playwright Arthur Miller on campus to speak on his play The Crucible, which was being performed by the National Repertory Theatre as part of their residency at UNCG. Miller pleaded the fifth amendment during Congressional hearings by the House Committee on Un-American Activities in 1957. Middleton wrote that "the educational experience would have been much greater if we could have had Mr. Miller on campus."



Farley Granger and Anne Meacham in the National
Repertory Theater's production of
Arthur Miller's The Crucible
Two years later, Mereb Mossman, dean of the faculty at UNCG, wrote North Carolina Governor Dan Moore regarding the impact of the Speaker Ban Law on faculty morale and recruitment. She wrote that "during the past two years, ... there have been many men whom we have sought to attract to positions on this campus who have questioned the Speaker Ban Law as an expression of lack of faith of the people of this State in its university." She also stresses the impact of the law on the national reputation and even its accreditation status (the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges was investigating possible violations of accreditation standards as a result of the law).

While many in academia fought the law, some North Carolina citizens encouraged legislators to continue the ban. A March 10, 1965 from a "P. Hastings" to Governor Moore declared that "any individual or group who refuses to come to the University of North Carolina or any other state supported college because Communists are not permitted to speak on the campus, indicates by their refusal that they are warped in their views to the extent that the students are better off by not hearing them." He continued, "I am positive beyond any doubt that if this matter was presented to the citizens of North Carolina and they be given an opportunity to express themselves, that 95% of them would be in favor of this law."

The North Carolina legislature, however, refused to repeal the law. In 1966, the UNC Chapel Hill chapter of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) invited two known communist speakers to campus. In accordance with the Speaker Ban Law, the Board of Trustees rescinded the speakers' invitations. Supported by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), the SDS filed suit in federal court challenging the Speaker Ban Law and its implementation. A three-judge federal court in Greensboro heard the arguments, and, in 1968, declared the Speaker Ban Law unconstitutional.


If you are interested in learning more about the speaker ban law in North Carolina (not just at UNCG), the State Archives has digitized a sampling of their archival records dealing with the Speaker Ban Study Commission.

Monday, January 15, 2018

The History of the College Yearbook Part I: 1902 – 1932

Drawing of a "State Normal" student
 The Carolinian, 1909
Perhaps more than any other campus publication, the school yearbook is the most reflective of the college’s physical environment, the interests of the students, the styles of the times, and even the social and political climate of the county. For the first ten years after the State Normal and Industrial School (now The University of North Carolina at Greensboro) opened in 1892, there was no official yearbook. This omission was rectified in 1902 when the Cornelian and Adelphian Literary Societies published a history of the first ten years of the college. The students named the publication The Decennial and dedicated it to the first president and founder of the college, Charles Duncan McIver. The Decennial listed the student classes from 1892, each with a class history. Images of students were also included, as well as academic and social clubs, athletic teams, dramatic organizations, and campus events. Student clubs echoed the young women’s interest in fun, but also in societal concerns as they established more socially-minded groups such as The Young Women’s Christian Temperance Union and the Women’s Association for the Betterment of Public School Houses in North Carolina.

By the end of the 19th century, women were not only increasingly involved with community issues, but they were also beginning to occupy significant roles in the workforce. This trend can be seen in The Decennial in which student essays titled “Thoughts and Experiences of a Business Woman” and “A Woman’s Opportunities in the Business World as I Have Found Them,” extolled the benefits of business training for women and hoping for the achievement of equal pay.

Senior basketball team, 1909 
In 1909, the first true annual, named The Carolinian, was published. It replicated the same basic format at The Decennial, and it was also dedicated to President McIver. Meant to give “a more appreciative knowledge and a more sympathetic understanding” of State Normal, the publication included photographs of the faculty and of each student class, with class histories, songs, toasts, and poems. The seniors had the privilege of choosing a special quotation and a current and childhood photograph. They also wrote a Class Prophecy, imagining what the students would be doing in the future, as well as a “Last Will and Testament,” passing along certain valued items and well wishes to the classes that followed.

The following pages included photographs of students who participated in academic and social clubs, athletics, dramatic organizations, and campus events. The last part of the yearbook contained essays penned by students from various classes; images of the campus; superlatives; and even jokes.

The State Toast
Pine Needles, 1920
The campus yearbook continued to be published annually, except for 1912 and 1916 when the funds were used instead to present elaborate campus May Day celebrations, and 1919 when the country was embroiled in World War I and the students created scrapbooks instead. The same year, the school started its own weekly student newspaper. Born from a creative writing class during the war years, students decided to name the new publication after the yearbook, The Carolinian. The yearbook needed another name. Inspired by the first lines of the state toast, “Here’s to the land of the long-leaf pine…,” the first edition of the new NCCW yearbook, published in 1920, took the name Pine Needles.
The yearbook continued to use the same format as in previous years, including photographs of students, campus grounds, and organizations; superlatives; and essays. Written tongue in cheek, the 1920 Pine Needles features the essay, “Confessions of a Dope Fiend,” tells the story of a Coca-Cola induced crazed dream during which a student saw her college friends in the future.

After the war years, Pine Needles reflected the social changes that were being felt throughout the country.  Students bobbed their hair like popular actresses of the time and clothing became less constricting. Additionally, the college was undergoing tremendous growth, and the yearbook always included the many new buildings being constructed on campus.

The Toasters Club
Pine Needles, 1927
The 1920s also ushered in some of the most creative designs in the history of the publication. Two notable examples are the 1929 circus theme edition and the 1930 yearbook which featured images inspired by Carl Sandburg’s book of poems, “Good Morning, America.” The Sandburg-inspired edition encompassed colorful images of nature as well as striking cityscapes into the decorative treatment. As the college moved into the 1930s, it underwent important transformations.

Images from the circus themed 1929 Pine Needles and the Sandburg inspired 1930 edition

In 1932, the school officially consolidated with the University of North Carolina and North Carolina College of Agriculture and Engineering, and was renamed the North Carolina College for Women.  Part II of The History of the College’s Yearbook will cover how Pine Needles reflected these changes.


Monday, January 8, 2018

Tea-Kettle Talk

"We may live without poetry, music and art: 
We may live without conscience and live without heart;
We may live without friends and live without books,
But civilized man cannot live without cooks."

These lines from the Victorian-era poem "Lucile" by Owen Meredith (also known as Edward Robert Bulwer-Lytton) served as the preface to a 1924 cookbook published by the Alumnae Association of the North Carolina College for Women (now UNCG). The cookbook, titled Tea-Kettle Talk, was sold by the Alumnae Association for $1 per copy (an addition five cents for mailing). It collated recipes from the college's alumnae, faculty, and faculty wives alongside "suggestive menus for clubs," "simple table service suggestions," and "household suggestions." Many of the recipes hold titles that boast of being "my husband's favorite." Here are a few of the recipes that you might want to try for your next meal:

Banana Salad from Mrs. E.C. Durham (Roberta Womble) 
Select large, smooth bananas, wash and cut off one strip of skin. Lift out one banana, cut in small pieces and add equal parts of nuts, apples, and celery. Pour mayonnaise dressing over the mixture and fill banana skins. Serve on lettuce leaves.

French Toast from Kathleen E. Pettit 
Dip slices of bread in well-beaten eggs to which salt and pepper have been added. Drop the egg-covered bread in frying pan of hot lard. A cut of butter melted in the frying pan with the lard adds much to the taste. Turn the slices of bread at intervals until both sides are a golden brown. This is a good breakfast food.

Creamed Dates from Mary E. Coffey 
Break white of an egg into a glass, add an equal quantity of ice water and one teaspoon vanilla. Beat until light, add little at a time enough powdered sugar to make a smooth fondant. Remove seeds from dates and fill with mixture. Half a walnut may be stuck in side of dates if desired.

And finally, for those looking for guidelines on table settings, Tea-Kettle Talk offers this guidance:

Home Economics students practice tea service
   Cover the table with a silence-cloth and carefully spread the white linen over this. On an attractive centerpiece place a low jar or vase for cut flowers. Let the flowers be of one kind and color, as far as possible, without a heavy fragrance.
   Place the napkins, carefully folded, to the left of the plates. In placing the silver, arrange it so that each piece shall come in the order for use from the outside toward the plate. Knives, with blades turned in, to the right of the plates; spoons to the right; all forks to the left, unless an oyster fork is used, in which case it should be on the right, with the tines resting on the plate. The plates, knives, forks, spoons, and napkins should be placed one inch from the edge of the table. The glass should be at the end of the knife-blade, and the salt should be placed in front of the plate.
   The bread and butter plate should be at the end of the forks to the left. Soup ladles, bonbon spoons, and rest for carving set should be on the table.
   Olives, almonds, celery, and bonbons are placed on the table.

Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy Holidays!

The staff of the Martha Blakeney Hodges Special Collections and University Archives wishes everyone a happy holiday season! We're taking a break this week, but please join us on Monday, January 8th for a new Spartan Story.

Students building a snowman on campus in the 1940s