Durham Celebrates Black History Month

Durham Celebrates Black History Month

Morehead Manor Bed and Breakfast is honored to be named the number one black-owned bed and breakfast in America by Black Enterprise.  We want to let people know that the 13th annual Durham MLK (Martin Luther King) Black History Month Parade will be Saturday, February 7 at 12:00 pm on Fayetteville Street.  The parade will travel along Durham’s Fayetteville Street beginning at W.G. Pearson Elementary School and ending at North Carolina Central University.

Durham was the home of “Black Wall Street” in the early decades of the 1900’s. Durham acquired a national reputation for entrepreneurship.  Businesses owned by African Americans lined Parrish Street. Among them were NC Mutual Life Insurance Company (the oldest and largest black-owned insurance company in the nation), Mechanics and Farmers Bank and Mutual Community Savings Bank. 

The N.C. Mutual Life Insurance Company Officers (circa 1911) include A.M. Moore, John M. Avery, John Merrick, Ed Merrick, C.C. Spaulding.  Dr. Aaron McDuffie Moore (1863-1923) was Durham’s first black physician and a pillar of the city’s black community. He was among the founders of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (1899) and later its president. The company prides itself on its early and unwavering commitment to community improvement.

The institutions Dr. Moore helped establish include Lincoln Hospital (1901), where he served as superintendent, and the Durham Colored Library (1913), which later became the Stanford L. Warren Library.  Moore advocated for the employment of Jeanes teachers in Durham schools and worked to get state approval for rural schools to receive state funds, which could then be matched by Rosenwald grants. Before attending medical school, he had himself worked as a teacher, and in 1915, he authored Negro Rural School Problem. Condition-Remedy for the North Carolina Teachers’ Association.

Dr. James Edward Shepard (1875-1947) founded the National Religious Training School and Chautauqua in Durham in 1910. It subsequently became the National Training School and, in 1923, the Durham State Normal School. North Carolina Central University is the successor institution to this school for educators. North Carolina Central University’s library, The James E. Shepard Memorial Library, was named after him.  A life-size statue of Dr. Shepard was built in his honor ten years after his death in 1947.  It is located in the Hoey Administration Circle on campus.
Innkeeper Monica Edwards earned a masters degree in business from this historically black university.  Now people of all ethnicities attend this prestigious school. 

Charles Clinton Spaulding Sr. (1874-1952) was, like his contemporary, Dr. Aaron Moore, a community leader in black Durham and a prominent businessman, serving, most notably, as president of North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance from 1923 to 1952. Walter B. Weare describes him as having had “an international reputation as America’s leading black businessman.”

In his capacity as a black community leader, Spaulding advocated for improvements in the community’s educational opportunities. A Democrat, he served as an advisor to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, particularly on appointments to the “black cabinet,” an informal group of black advisors on public policy, and as an advocate for the National Recovery Administration (NRA) to the black community. He was a member of the Rosenwald Fund’s board of directors.

There are several fine places in Durham, North Carolina where people can gain a greater appreciation of black history:

Historic Stagville The remains of the state’s largest plantation, owned by the Bennehan-Cameron family. On-site is the 18th-century Benehan House, four slave houses and a timber-framed barn built by skilled slave craftsmen.

Hayti Heritage Center Founded in 1975, is a cultural and educational institution in historic Hayti community of Durham that offers diverse programs that examines the experiences of Americans of African descent locally, nationally and globally. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Duke University Libraries, Digital Collections Digital collections of various African-American historical resources which includes images and documents. When searching the digital collection’s web page, choose the African-American subject heading.

North Carolina Central University, Shepard Memorial Library, Dr. Henry Lewis Suggs African and African-American History Collection              
A collection of historical documents which contains 1200 volumes of collected works of Dr. Suggs, including valuable research papers amassed over his professional career.

Dr. Debra Saunders-White is North Carolina Central University’s 11th Chancellor. NCCU ranks as one of the top public Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the country. “I believe higher education is a powerful economic empowerment tool. It transforms lives. And that’s why we’re here. Our students are here to learn and discover, and the job of everyone who works here is to support that mission. We must encourage a commitment to learning, civic engagement, public service, research, and innovation.  Rapid change is one of the few constants of life today, and to help our students meet the challenges they will face, we must do all we can to equip them with the ability to think critically and creatively, to adapt quickly and to lead with integrity. And that means we who work and teach here must also be quick to adapt, to embrace the change and meet the challenges head-on.”

We welcome you to stay in our lovely Durham bed and breakfast.  At Morehead Manor, each morning we offer a complimentary, delicious gourmet breakfast.  Durham is not only a great place for history lovers, but also for those who like artmusic, shopping, sports, and theatre.  The Bull City was also voted the Tastiest Town in the South with all of our delicious restaurants and food trucks.  Make your reservations to stay at Morehead Manor soon.

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