A History of African Americans in North Carolina

By Smith, J. Howell | South Carolina Historical Magazine, July 2004 | Go to article overview

A History of African Americans in North Carolina


Smith, J. Howell, South Carolina Historical Magazine


A History of African Americans in North Carolina. Revised Edition. By Jeffrey J. Crow, Paul D. Escott, and Flora J. Hatley. (Raleigh: North Carolina Office of Archives and History, 2002. Pp. xii, 266; $15.00, paper.)

When first published in 1992 by the North Carolina Division of Archives and History, this book served at least three audiences. For the general reader, it provided a one-volume introductory survey of the role played by African-Americans in North Carolina from 1526, when Lucas Vásquez de Ayllon brought settlers including slaves to the banks of the Cape Fear River, until the 1970s when African-Americans sought empowerment through the civil rights and Black Power movements. For the budding scholar, its presentation of quotations and illustrations, though not footnoted, provided provocative content that could draw the historian into further exploration, probably using the selected bibliography that was provided. For the reader involved in North Carolina or African-American studies, it provided a quick examination of the unresolved tensions that evolved as African-Americans sought empowerment in a border state that provided many leaders in the civil rights struggles.

The new revised edition maintains its original character and adds a chapter that brings the narrative up to 2001. Jeffrey Crow, deputy secretary of the North Carolina Office of Archives and History, wrote the first, second, third, seventh, and tenth chapters. Paul Escott, professor of history at Wake Forest University, wrote the fourth, fifth, and sixth chapters. Flora J. Hatley-Wadelington, who teaches at St. Augustine's College in Raleigh, North Carolina, wrote the eight and ninth chapters.

The new tenth chapter assumes that the most significant developments in North Carolina African-Americans' lives occurred in the realm of political power and thus focuses on the more recent legal and political developments. The authors note that between 1970 and 1997, a total of 506 African-Americans won elective office in North Carolina. A new appendix lists the major North Carolina African-Americans who held governmental posts from 1969 to 2001. In the 1990s the population proportion of African-Americans in the state declined slightly, and their voting participation and economic well-being lagged behind the general population. …

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