Golden Frinks, Charlotte Brown and Charles Hunter (select to enlarge)
(select to enlarge)
Tomorrow I will begin adding in Elreta Alexander and photographing a friend for David Walker. Seems like only yesterday that this diner had no patrons at all. The place is getting crowded these days. Food must be pretty good.
You can read the bio's of the recent three after the break:
Charles Norfleet Hunter (1852-1931)
Charles was a school teacher, journalist, and historian committed to improving social conditions and opportunities for the people of his race. Born into slavery, Hunter was the son of artisan Osborne Hunter. Their owner was William Dallas Haywood, a member of one of Raleigh’s most prominent families. Young Hunter’s mother died when he was three and he was raised by an aunt.
Golden Asro Frinks
With fists raised, members of the audience paid homage to “The Great Agitator” on July 24, 2004, as North Carolina laid to rest one of its greatest unsung heroes of the Civil Rights movement - Golden Asro Frinks. For most of his eighty-four years, Golden Frinks led generations of young and old, African American and American Indian to take a stand and demand their “equal part to enjoy the fruits of America.”
Who was this “Great Agitator” and “Mr. Civil Rights,” as those closest to him affectionately called him? Born in Horry County, South Carolina, on April 26, 1920, Golden Frinks grew up in Tabor City after his family moved to North Carolina. When he was seventeen, he moved to Edenton. Frinks was a United States Army veteran who served during World War II as a staff sergeant at Fort McCullough, Alabama. Following active duty, he returned to Edenton, eventually married Ruth Holley, and began the fight to obtain equal rights for the local population of African Americans.
Frinks’s career as a civil rights activist and organizer began in 1956 with a movement, which involved hundreds of people in Edenton, to desegregate public facilities such as the movie theater, stores, and restaurants in town. Over the next six years, Frinks spearheaded the struggle in Edenton to defeat the unjust practices of Jim Crow by using the tactics and strategies that would become his trademark. Through nonviolent acts of civil disobedience, such as sit-ins, protests, demonstrations, and marches (led mainly by young people), Frinks led dozens of communities throughout North Carolina toward freedom from the injustices of segregation and racial discrimination. In 1963 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. personally selected Frinks to become a field secretary for the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in North Carolina, a position he held until 1977.
Golden Frinks’s unique style of activism wore down racist political practices, earning him the nickname “The Great Agitator.” He led more than a dozen movements for civil rights for African Americans and American Indians throughout North Carolina, three of which rivaled well-known movements such as those in Birmingham and Montgomery, Alabama. The Hyde County School Boycott led to the desegregation of public schools and the preservation of historically black school buildings in that county. The Edenton, Williamston, Plymouth, and Greenville movements contributed to the desegregation of public facilities and the integration of public schools.
Frinks’s activities were not limited to North Carolina. He worked with SCLC throughout the Southeast to fight for racial equality. He also spearheaded individual cases of alleged racial injustice, such as that of Joann Little, an African American woman accused of killing her jailer after he had assaulted her in a North Carolina prison during the early 1970s. In 1973 Frinks marched to the state capital of Raleigh along with the Tuscarora Indians to support their struggle to gain tribal recognition and representation on the Robeson County school board.
Jailed eighty-seven times for his civil rights activities in North Carolina and throughout the Southeast, Golden Frinks remained a passionate advocate for racial justice during the course of his life. Frinks delivered a poignant speech in the late 1970s that included the passage below. (The entire speech has been recorded in a commemorative booklet titled The Great Agitator: “We Shall Overcome Someday.”) In the passage, Frinks recalls the many turbulent and tragic incidents from the Civil Rights movement.
Charlotte Eugenia Hawkins Brown (1883-1961)
Born Lottie Hawkins in Henderson, North Carolina, in 1883, her family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, early in her childhood to avoid racial discrimination in their home state. In Cambridge, she attended Allston Grammar School, Cambridge English High School and Salem State Normal School in Salem, Massachusetts.
During her senior year at Cambridge High School Hawkins met Alice Freeman Palmer, who in 1882 was named the first woman president of Wellesley College. Palmer would become a role-model, mentor and influence in Hawkins’s life. Hawkins became Palmer’s protégé as the two women developed a life long bond. Palmer assisted Hawkins financially in attending Salem State Normal School, a teachers college.
In 1901 eighteen year old Hawkins accepted a teaching position in North Carolina offered by the American Missionary Association. Although she did not graduate from Salem State, she decided to take the post anyway knowing that since there were few educational opportunities for black children she would do what she could to address the problem.
In her first year back in her native state, Hawkins taught rural black children at Bethany Congregational Church in Sedalia, North Carolina. In 1902, however, after the school was closed due to financial problems, Hawkins, with the assistance of her mentor Alice Freeman Palmer, established the Alice Freeman Palmer Institute. This school, located in Sedalia, instructed children between the elementary and junior college level. It would operate through the late 1950s. In 1911 Charlotte Hawkins married fellow Institute teacher Edward S. Brown. Although the marriage was brief, she retained his surname and became Charlotte Hawkins Brown.
Initially Brown followed the vocational curriculum of Booker T. Washington’s Tuskegee Institute, focusing on manual training and industrial education for rural living. But over the half century Brown gradually came to embrace liberal arts education.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown continued her own formal education as well. While directing the Institute she took courses at Simmons College, Temple University and Wellesley College. In the 1927-1928 school year Brown was named “special student” at Wellesley College, giving her the freedom to choose any course she wanted without any constraints of degree requirements. As her dedication and efforts in education became nationally acclaimed, Brown received several honorary degrees and traveled in circles that included Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. DuBois, fellow school founder Mary McLeod Bethune and Eleanor Roosevelt.
Charlotte Hawkins Brown died in 1961. Soon afterwards, North Carolina designated the Alice Freeman Palmer Institute the first historical landmark of North Carolina identified with an African American.
Charles Norfleet Hunter (1852-1931)
The fair was the brainchild of Charles Norfleet Hunter. Born into slavery in Raleigh in the late 1850s, Hunter became a journalist and educator after the Civil War and was a voice of the African American community in North Carolina. He believed that African Americans in North Carolina and throughout the South had made great progress since emancipation and had much in which to take pride. He also believed that the progress of the race depended and would continue to depend on the goodwill and kindness of whites. The Colored Industrial Association Fair embodied these beliefs. It was a showcase of African American achievement, but Hunter emphasized to reporters the importance of the support of prominent white people in bringing the fair about. In the end, however, it was race pride that made the fair an important part of North Carolina's Black community for nearly fifty years.
Hunter gained his first job with the Freedmen’s Savings and Trust in Raleigh. After that venture failed in 1874, he began teaching, a profession with which he was associated the rest of his life. Over the years he taught in Raleigh, Durham, Goldsboro, Garner, Haywood, Pittsboro, Wilson’s Mills, Manchester, Lumber Bridge, and Palmyra. Most notably, from 1910 to 1918, he served as principal of the “Negro School” at Method that became, during his tenure there, the Berry O’Kelly School . In 1917 it was acclaimed as the “finest and most practical rural training school in the entire South.”
Hunter was one of the founders in 1879 of the North Carolina Industrial Association, sponsor of the Negro State Fair, an annual event into the 1930s which featured the Old Slaves Reunion and Dinner. Hunter wrote articles and letters for numerous newspapers and periodicals concerning race relations and the progress of Negroes. He worked at but never completed a general history of blacks in North Carolina, enlisting in that endeavor the aid of Kemp Battle, Samuel A. Ashe, and Fred Olds. A life-long Republican, he alternated in his racial philosophy between accomodationist, akin to that of Booker T. Washington, and radical. He never advocated violence or separatism.
Historian George B. Tindall attempted to fix the significance of Charles N. Hunter when he wrote that he was “a real-life Jane Pittman of the masculine persuasion, a man who witnessed the changes in race relations from emancipation to the milled of the Age of Segregation,” further noting that “although a person of relative obscurity, he was active in public life.” It was from Hunter’s voluminous papers at Duke University that Tindall’s student John H. Haley fashioned his 1981 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill dissertation and 1987 University of North Carolina Press biography.