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Martin Luther King Jr.’s Rehearsal Speech in Rocky Mount

An image of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Durham in 1958 from the State Archives

An image of Martin Luther King, Jr. speaks in Durham in 1958
from the State Archives

On November 27, 1962, Martin Luther King, Jr., delivered a speech in Rocky Mount. Before a crowd of nearly 2,000 in the gymnasium at Booker T. Washington High School, King used a number of expressions that made their way into his landmark “I Have a Dream” address at the Lincoln Memorial, which was part of the March on Washington in August 1963.

Near the close he built toward these lines: “I have a dream that one day right here in Rocky Mount, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will meet at the table of brotherhood, knowing that one God brought man to the face of the Earth. I have a dream tonight that one day my little daughter and my two sons will grow up in a world not conscious of the color of their skin, but only conscious of the fact that they are members of the human race. . . .”

Clayborne Carson, editor of the King Papers, notes that while this was not the first use of the “I have a dream” phrase, it “appears to be an important new rhetorical formulation.” By the spring and summer of 1963 the words were among the most frequent of King’s refrains.

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Raleigh Register, North Carolina’s First Daily Paper

On November 19, 1850, the Raleigh Register became North Carolina’s first newspaper to be published daily. The Register traces its roots

A photograph of a portrait of Joseph Gales Senior. Image courtesy the State Archives of North Carolina.

A photograph of a portrait of Joseph Gales Senior. Image courtesy the State Archives of North Carolina.

to 1799 when it was founded by English immigrant Joseph Gales, who had already successfully published several newspapers in England. Gales ran the paper until his retirement in 1833.  Under his leadership it was one of the major publications in the state and was widely regarded as the leading political voice for the Jeffersonian Repulicanism.

Gales started publishing the paper semiweekly only when the General Assembly was in session, but eventually settled upon weekly publication. He brought his son, Weston, in as a partner, and Weston would eventually go on to be the paper’s publisher.

It became a daily under Seaton Gales, grandson of the founder, who enlarged the paper’s operation and added a telegraph service. His efforts, though, soon proved unsuccessful and by January 1851, the Register had stopped publishing each day. Gales tried to revive paper by retrofitting its offices with the latest technology, but it was sold at public auction by 1856.

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Gambling Comes to Cherokee

photo courtesy visitcherokee.com

photo courtesy visitcherokee.com

On November 13, 1997, Harrah’s Cherokee Casino—the first casino in North Carolina—opened in Cherokee on the reservation of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI). Owned by the EBCI and operated by Caesars Entertainment Corporation, the casino complex recently expanded and now offers live table games, slot machines and traditional video gaming machines, as well as a spa. Its amenities also include a 21-story hotel, conference center, events center and several restaurants.

When Harrah’s Cherokee first opened, it offered only video poker. In August 2012, the U.S. Department of the Interior approved an amended agreement between North Carolina and the EBCI allowing live dealers. That agreement earmarked the state’s share of gaming revenues for public education while most of the remaining monies were to be distributed annually among tribal members.

Because of the new jobs and local economic upswing created by Harrah’s Cherokee, the Eastern Band has been able to make major improvements in health care, housing, education and public safety on its reservation. In September 2015 tribal officials opened the Harrah’s Cherokee Valley River Casino & Hotel in Murphy.

For more, check out Native Carolinians: The Indians of North Carolina from N.C. Historical Publications.

Cherokee Indian Tsali Was Captured

A scene from the outdoor drama Unto These Hills

On November 1, 1838, the Cherokee Indian known as Tsali was captured.  Tsali, also known as Charley, was among those who refused to leave North Carolina after a group of Cherokee leaders signed a treat ceding their tribal lands to the United States.  Tsali, his family, and a few friends had gone into hiding in the spring.  From here the story diverges into what is in the oral histories and what is in the written records.  Cherokee oral tradition tells of Tsali’s group being captured and harassed by the federal troops.  By this account, Tsali decided to try to fake an injury and ambush the soldiers to escape. In the ensuing skirmish, one soldier was killed and two others wounded, one mortally.  The Cherokee escaped and hid until learning that if the men responsible were to give themselves up, all of the other Indians in hiding could remain in North Carolina.  The legend maintains that Tsali agreed to be executed so that the others could stay. Among the Cherokee Tsali has become a legendary hero, depicted in the outdoor drama Unto These Hills.

At the time the legend flourished, few of the government records related to the Tsali event had been available for research.  What those documents reveal is different from oral tradition.  On November 1, 1838, U. S. soldiers and Thomas found and captured Tsali’s group. While being marched to the command base, some of the Cherokee attacked the soldiers and escaped.  Oconaluftee Citizen Indians, who were exempt from the removal, and a few other fugitive Cherokees offered help with the understanding that anyone who helped to find Tsali’s band would be allowed to stay in North Carolina.

A former neighbor of Tsali’s known as Euchella (Utsala) led about sixty men in search of Tsali.  On November 24, Colonel William S. Foster, who was ordered to find Tsali, wrote to his commander, General Winfield Scott that the mission was a success—that, of the twelve Indians that had been in the original group, all but Tsali had been recaptured and the three men most culpable in the attack “were punished yesterday by the Cherokees themselves in the presence of the 4th Regt. of  Infantry.”  Foster had made clear in other communications that he did not believe that Tsali was one of the murderers.  His conviction is explicit in his dismissal of the search party and leaving the area.  However, the next day Euchella and another Indian caught Tsali and executed him.  Foster issued a proclamation in support of Euchella and his men and sent Scott a petition signed by residents in favor of the Indians’ wishes to stay.

Euchella and his men were given permission to remain in North Carolina with the Oconaluftee Citizen Indians.  Eventually these groups would be recognized as the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.  Tsali’s story began to take shape with its embellished twist in 1849 and he has since become a folk legend.  The significant difference in the two stories, of course, is that documents indicate that Tsali never surrendered.  Thus he never made the noble sacrifice for which he is idolized.  Regardless, the events were tragic and the outcome heartbreaking, and the saga is now immortalized in Cherokee lore.

“Choo Choo” Justice Barreled Down the Football Field

Justice with fellow Tarheel teammate Art Weiner in 1949. Image from the UNC-Chapel Hill Library

On October 17, 2003, football star Charlie “Choo Choo” Justice died at his home in Cherryville at the age of 79. A native of Asheville, Justice acquired his nickname in the Navy, into which he was drafted in 1943. Seeing him dodge tacklers for the Bainbridge Naval Training Center team, an officer remarked, “He looks like a runaway train. We ought to call him ‘Choo Choo.'”

After the war, Justice played for the UNC, though many other college vied for his talents. From 1946 to 1949, while Justice played for the Tar Heels, the team had a record of 32-9-2, went to three bowl games and even achieved a number one ranking in the AP Top 10. Justice was named National Player of the Year in 1948, was runner up for the Heisman Trophy in 1948 and 1949 and remains in the record books at UNC for a number of achievements.

Justice played for the Washington Redskins in the National Football League in 1950 and again between 1952 and 1954, before retiring to work in the oil business and then in the insurance industry. He was inducted into the North Carolina Sports Hall of Fame in 1963.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Randall Jarrell, “War Poet”

On October 14, 1965, poet Randall Jarrell was struck and killed by a car while walking at dusk along the side of NC 54 Bypass. At the time, Jarrell was staying in the hospital in Chapel Hill recovering from a suicide attempt and being treated with antidepressants. Jarrell left behind nine volumes of poetry, four books of literary criticism, four children’s books, five anthologies, a novel and a reputation as a brilliant, if troubled, writer.

Born in 1914 in Nashville, Tenn., Jarrell attended Vanderbilt University where he captained the tennis team and studied under Robert Penn Warren. Hoping to become a pilot, Jarrell entered the Army Air Force in 1942.  He failed to qualify and served as a celestial navigation instructor for the remainder of the war.  From that experience came Jarrell’s best known poem, “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” ending with the line “When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.”

In the fall of 1947 Jarrell began teaching at what is now UNC-Greensboro, where he would live and work for the remainder of his life.

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For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Lemur Jovian, Star of “Zoboomafoo”

19529_3dh2710_pc-6583-jovianOn October 4, 1997, Jovian, the lemur that many television watchers came to know as Zoboomafoo, was introduced to the custom made sound stage at the Duke Lemur Center.

Jovian is a Coquerel’s sifaka, a species of lemur native to Madagascar. He was selected to appear in the educational wildlife show, “Zoboomafoo,” produced by Chris and Martin Kratt. The latter was a graduate of Duke University and had volunteered at the Lemur Center while in school.

The award-winning children’s show starred Jovian as Zoboomafoo, and included a puppet lookalike for scenes in which Zoboomafoo talked. For the program, a sound stage was attached to an animal care building, where Jovian lived with his parents while the live portions of the show were being filmed.

Zoboomafoo ended production in 2001. Since then Jovian has enjoyed his retirement in a natural habitat enclosure at the Lemur Center.

The Duke Lemur Center, formerly the Duke University Primate Center, was established to explore the genetic foundations of primate behavior. Today researchers investigate a wide variety of disciplines including behavior, physiology, paleontology and conservation biology.

Visit: The Duke Lemur Center in Durham. Tour information is available on their website.

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.