Royal Ice Cream Protest, 1957

Protests at Royal Ice Cream. Image from OpenDurham.

Protests at Royal Ice Cream. Image from Open Durham.

On June 23, 1957, the Royal Ice Cream sit-in began in Durham.

The Royal Ice Cream Company had a doorway on one street with a “White Only” sign and one on another marked “Colored Only.” A partition divided the restaurant in two. To protest, a local minister and six young African Americans went to Royal Ice Cream and took up booths on the white side. The manager called the police who charged them with trespassing.

Protests at Royal Ice Cream. Image from OpenDurham.

Protests at Royal Ice Cream. Image from Open Durham.

Found guilty the next day, each of the protesters was fined $10 plus court costs. On appeal the case went to Durham County Superior Court, and a jury trial was held. An all-white jury rendered a guilty verdict on each defendant. The case was then appealed to the N.C. Supreme Court, which upheld the law regarding segregated facilities. Attorneys appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case.

The Royal Ice Cream sit-in helped lay the foundation for the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins, which sparked the national movement for civil rights.

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Auspicious Start for North Carolina Awards

Author and poet Maya Angelou receives the North Carolina Award in 1987 from Gov. Jim Martin. Image from the State Archives.

On June 22, 1961, the General Assembly established the North Carolina Award to honor outstanding achievements by North Carolinians.

The award was proposed by State Senator Robert Lee Humber of Pitt County, who hoped that the award would inspire others to excel in their fields for the betterment of North Carolina. He would go on to win the award for public service in 1968.

Since the North Carolina Award’s creation, medals have been given to more than 250 recipients for contributions to literature, fine arts, science and public service.  The first class of winners, recognized in 1964, included microbiologist John Couch for science; novelist Inglis Fletcher for literature; painter Francis Speight for fine art; and editor of The Progressive Farmer Clarence Poe and chemist, businessman, philanthropist and ambassador John Motley Morehead III, both for public service.

The award is administered by the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources and new recipients are honored each fall with presentation of the medal at a banquet.

Some of the more famous North Carolina Award recipients include cultural figures Etta Baker, Doc Watson, James Taylor, and Maya Angelou; media and public service figures David Brinkley and Charles Kuralt; and scientists Gertrude Elion and Joseph M. DeSimone.

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Parachutist Tiny Broadwick of Vance County

Tiny Broadwick with parachute on back, c.1913-1922

Tiny Broadwick with parachute on back, c.1913-1922. Image from the State Archives.

On June 21, 1913, Tiny Broadwick became the first woman to jump from an airplane. Remembered as the “First Lady of Parachuting,” Broadwick still holds a place in The Guinness Book of World Records for her achievements as a parachutist.Born Georgia Ann Thompson in Oxford, Broadwick was married at 12, a mother at 13 and abandoned by her husband soon thereafter. After attending a carnival in Raleigh and seeing Charles Broadwick parachute from a balloon, Georgia joined his “World Famous Aeronauts.” Soon after, she became Broadwick’s adopted daughter.

At just over four feet tall, Georgia was nicknamed “Tiny.” She thrilled audiences by jumping from a swing attached to a balloon. As the novelty wore off for crowds, the Broadwicks moved their act to flying machines.

After her first jump in 1913, Tiny demonstrated Charles’s pack parachute for Army officials in 1914. They were impressed with what they called the “life preserver of the air.” Tiny retired from parachuting in 1922, after completing more than 1,100 jumps.

She is the only female member of the Early Birds of Aviation, and her parachutes are housed at the North Carolina Museum of History and the Smithsonian Institution.

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Militias Battle at Ramsour’s Mill, 1780

A re-enactment of the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill. Image from the Lincoln Times-News.

On June 20, 1780, at the Battle of Ramsour’s Mill, Col. Francis Locke and his Patriot force stormed the defenses of the Loyalist militia led by Maj. John Moore.

Farmers, not soldiers, determined the outcome of most Revolutionary War battles fought in North Carolina, as most of the skirmishes and battles were fought between Loyalist and colonial militias. Few participants had ever received formal military training. The engagement at Ramsour’s Mill was no exception to this rule.

In hopes of supplementing Lord Cornwallis’s British force at Camden, S.C., Moore had gathered a force of 1,300 Loyalists near Derick Ramsour’s Mill in what is now Lincoln County. Knowing this, Patriot militias mobilized and began marching to the mill, launching their attack at dawn nearly a week later.

The fighting at Ramsour’s Mill soon degraded into little more than a killing field, primarily because of a lack of military discipline. Though the Loyalists outnumbered the Patriots almost 4-to-1, many of them ran from the field. Each side lost around 150 men, but the Patriots prevailed since they had uprooted the Loyalists from their position.

The battle was indecisive at best, but was illustrative of how the Patriot militia played a significant role in the war throughout the South.

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Regulators Hanged in Hillsborough

Historical marker to the hanged Regulators

On June 19, 1771, six Regulators were hanged in Hillsborough following the Battle of Alamance on May 17.

The hanging represented a culmination of the War of Regulation and the “backcountry” rebellion by Orange County Regulators. Like many of those throughout the colonies discontented with the control of and taxation by the British government, the Regulators wanted the Currency Act of 1764 and the Stamp Act of 1765 to be repealed.

As both sides anticipated confrontation, Regulators sent petitions to Governor Tryon, then camped out on Alamance Creek with 1,400 troops, on May 14 and May 16. Tryon rejected the Regulators’ terms and a battle broke out until the Regulators retreated.

Several Regulators were captured and tried. After the trial, Tryon pardoned six men and sent the others – Benjamin Merrill, Robert Matear, James Pugh and two other unrecorded men – to be hanged not far from the courthouse in Hillsborough. Their exact burial location is unknown.

The site of the hanging was memorialized in 1963 by a marble slab monument erected by the N.C. Society of the Colonial Dames in America and placed next to the historic Hughes Academy schoolhouse in Hillsborough.

Check out NCpedia’s resources on the Regulators and Battle of Alamance for more information on this topic.

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.

St. Mark’s, Episcopal Landmark in Wilmington

St. Mark's Episcopal Church, Wilmington, New Hanover County, North Carolina

Image from NCSU Libraries.

On June 18, 1875, the Right Reverend Thomas Atkinson, Bishop of the Diocese of North Carolina, consecrated St. Mark’s Church in Wilmington. The congregation was the first Episcopal Church for African Americans in North Carolina.

The church can trace its roots to late 1869, when the Reverend Charles Otis Brady was called to lead a new Episcopal Church for an exclusively black congregation. The worshipers initially selected the name St. Paul’s, but soon after adopted St. Mark’s. The new congregation purchased a lot at the corner of Sixth and Mulberry Streets and began raising money for the land and the future church building.

People from around the nation contributed to the campaign, and construction on the church began in March 1871. Although the structure was not fully finished, the first church service was held in the new building in December of that year.

St. Mark’s became part of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina as a mission in 1872. The original church building, at 220 North Sixth Street, has been extensively renovated and is still in use.

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Explosives Advanced by Gabriel Rains during the Civil War

A drawing done by Rains in the early 1860s illustrating Civil War torpedo technology. Image from the American Civil War Museum.

On June 17, 1864, Brigadier General Gabriel Rains was appointed chief of the newly created Torpedo Bureau of the Confederate army.

Born in New Bern in 1803, Rains graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1827. He began experimenting with mines, then called “torpedoes.” in 1839, during the Seminole War. At the outbreak of the Civil War he resigned his commission and offered his services to the Confederacy.

Rains continued to develop his “infernal machines” for use on land and in waterways throughout the war. Many officers in both the Union and Confederate armies thought torpedoes constituted an improper form of warfare, but Rains defended his use of explosive devices as a means to discourage a night attack by an enemy, to defend a weak point of a line and to check enemy pursuit.

Image from the Library of Congress

While in service in Richmond, Rains began to formulate plans for the torpedo defense of Confederate ports. Impressed with the plans, President Jefferson Davis directed him to put his plans into operation. Rains was first sent to Vicksburg, Mississippi, and then to Charleston, South Carolina and Mobile, Alabama.

Rains’s torpedoes were a great success, providing an effective deterrent to Union naval attack and sinking about 58 Union vessels in all.

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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.

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