Category Archives: Edgecombe County

Bill before Congress now to make lynchings a federal crime started in Tarboro 120 years ago

George Henry White

There’s a bill before Congress now that would, for the first time in American history, make lynching a federal hate-crime. The bill has passed the House by a vote of 410 to 4. In the Senate, ninety-nine senators favor it, but a senator from Kentucky is blocking unanimous consent for immediate enactment. It’s an emotional issue at the center of national affairs in a time of crisis. 

If the bill is enacted, it would be the first federal anti-lynching law. But it is not the first anti-lynching bill. 

The first anti-lynching bill was introduced in Congress on January 20,1900, by Representative George Henry White of Tarboro, North Carolina. 

White’s home is just a few blocks off Main Street at about St. Patrick and Granville Streets. You could say that’s where today’s anti-lynching legislation began.

You could say it started on Granville Street.

 

Sylvia

I saw this in an obituary this morning:

Sylvia always brought so much food to family events that people had to make several trips to her car to bring it all in.

Kind of a poem about a certain slice of North Carolina in the mid-20th Century.

WUNC to broadcast interview with Brian Lampkin about The Tarboro Three

The Tarboro Three will be a lead story on WUNC’s The State of Things next Tuesday (August 20) at noon.

Frank Stasio will interview author and former Tarboro resident Brian Lampkin about Brian’s recent book, The Tarboro Three: Rape, Race, and Secrecy (Scuppernong Editions/2019).

The Tarboro Three is of interest for the story itself of course, but it’s also worth reading to see how a Tarboro immigrant, now emigrant, observed and now interprets Tarboro.

The interview will air on Tuesday, but then it’ll be posted on WUNC’s website as a podcast after that. WUNC is on “terrestrial radio” at 91.5 FM in the Chapel Hill/Raleigh/Durham area; at 88.9 FM from Manteo, serving the North East outer banks and coastal communities; at 91.9 from Fayetteville; at 91.1 just south of Winston-Salem in the Welcome, NC, area; and, at 90.9 FM from Rocky Mount.

Mulebus – Leggett, where school busing – mulebusing – began?

Not Leggett in fact, but in concept

The history of public education in North Carolina is documented. Charles Lee Smith, The History of Education in North Carolina, Bob Etheridge, The History of Education in North Carolina, Benjamin R. Justesen & Scott Mathews, Public Education.

What’s not documented so well is the history of public education in small places in North Carolina. In the late 19th and early 20th Century, small places provided public education for themselves (albeit, on a racially and not equal discriminatory basis). They had small schools, one-room schools, no grade levels, one teacher per school. Out in the country, local citizens provided room and board in their homes for the teachers. Everything was close and personal.

Leggett was such a community: a small place in a remote corner of a county whose prominence was fading with the end of the Civil War. Small and remote? Yes – but even so, for Lower Fishing Creek Township, Leggett was uptown. For all northwest Edgecombe County.

Leggett had its own School Board early on. When the time came for consolidation of one-room schools, Leggett was among the leaders. Lower Fishing Creek. Upper Fishing Creek. With consolidation came the need to bring the students to school. Busing.

Leggett claims to be where school busing began in North Carolina. They did it with mules.

New book about Tarboro, worth a close look

Two weeks ago Brian Lampkin’s book came out. The Tarboro Three: Rape, Race, and Secrecy.

No time yet to read it, but MidLaw has given it a heavy skim. The publisher’s blurb sets it in line with Blood Done Sign My Name, Oxford’s “raw mix of memoir and history.” And no story of race, sex, and the legal system set in a small Southern town can be without its relationship to To Kill a Mockingbird.

A preliminary skim suggests that The Tarboro Three looks well written, fair minded, and after bigger game than simply recounting news stories or skewering villains. Lampkin, who wrote for the Daily Southerner for a time and is now in Greensboro, recaptures much of what set Tarboro apart from similar small places — its history, its legends, the people, and its racial culture — and displays them in the light of an awful event.

Looks like he saw complexity and decency as well as injustice and drama. His book is worth a close look.

From Tarboro to the Transvaal in search of treasure

Bridgers School in Tarboro was named for the sisters Mary Horne Bridgers and Lola Bridgers, who made their careers teaching in what was known as Central School until it was renamed Bridgers School in 1943. They were legendary teachers.

Miss Mary and Miss Loulie had an errant brother, an adventurer named Marcus.

He lit out from Tarboro for Africa in 1897, searching for gold in the Transvaal.

In 1903, Marcus left South Africa and traveled up Africa’s east coast to Egypt. Along the way, he sent postcards home to Mary and Lola.

Those postcards and artifacts he brought back from Africa are now on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh.

Postcards from Africa to Tarboro a hundred years ago. Something to see. Exhibit runs until December.

Tarboro produces best running back in NFL, undefeated high school football champions — place is sans pareil

The Washington Post brands Tarboro’s Todd Gurley “the ideal modern NFL running back.” Says he “may be the most dynamic offensive weapon in football.” 

The Raleigh News and Observer credits Tarboro high school as a “football dynasty” as it rolls up another state championship and a second, consecutive undefeated season.

Both papers affirm Tarboro coach Jeff Craddock and a unique culture in Tarboro. 

Nothing said about what’s in the water. MidLaw has been saying. Everybody there drinks it. Do they put it in the beer at Tarboro Brewing Company?

The new thing in Conetoe – what is it about that place?

Even as MidLaw was marveling about the extraordinary human talent cultivated there in the past, Conetoe was garnering fresh national approbation and accolades for new achievements. There’s a movie about it. They won an Emmy.

Conetoe.

What is it about Conetoe?

 

Conetoe and the limits of human talent

Tyler Cowen cites an analysis questioning whether Kareem, Russell, Jordan, Curry or Magic is the most valuable player of all time. Cowen frames the issue in terms of “The Limits of Human Talent.” Noteworthy to me: all but Russell have key North Carolina connections.

Closer: a trusted source tells me that Magic Johnson’s mother’s family started out in Conetoe, before moving to Tarboro. Just as Theolonius Monk’s mother’s family also started in Conetoe before moving to Rocky Mount. 

Conetoe.

Two of the most notable figures of our time – testing the limits of human talent – link back to Conetoe.

More Edgecombe-connected talent going big time: Ben Fountain’s new book getting global attention/approval:

This has been worked out here before. Ben Fountain is not actually from Edgecombe County but his people are. Some of them back to the 18th Century. His father was from the Edgecombe side of Rocky Mount; his grandfather from Leggett. (Compare him to Magic Johnson in this respect.)

He’s also said to be the best writer from Texas since Larry McMurty and Cormac Mcarthy; author of the 8th best novel of the 21st Century; and a “genius.” (Joe Smith says, “I don’t know about ‘8th best in the century”, but it is a good book.”)

So it is well for Edgecombe to claim him.

Last week, the New York Times published a favorable review of his latest book. The Times’ review is written by Amanda Carpenter, a former staff member for Senators Jim DeMint and Ted Cruz. And, so did the Washington Post in a review by Robert Kaiser.

The book is Beautiful Country Burn Again.

Two weeks ago, Bill Moyers said, “this is the boldest, bravest and most bracing book about politics that I have read this year,” and published a long interview in which Fountain talks briefly about his Edgecombe County forbears, before plunging forward to today and “the sad, psychotic, and vengeful in the national life producing a strange mutation, a creature comprised of degenerate political logic.”

Carpenter credits Fountain with saying that “the rich and powerful peddle a mirage of the American dream for everyone else to lust after rather than doing anything to help them achieve it.”

Fountain says, “our most successful politicians have all become fantasy novelists.” Carpenter says, “no wonder Fountain is sending such a flare shot. They’re invading his turf.”