In my last semester of graduate school at North Carolina State University, I collaborated with a classmate to research and write an architectural and historical context report for the North Carolina Historic Preservation Office. My partner and I researched extant and demolished buildings with ties to the Civil Rights Movement in Charlotte, North Carolina and Monroe, North Carolina. I was responsible for the history of Monroe and found a very exciting history in a very small town.
Monroe, North Carolina is well known as the home of Jesse Helms, but lesser known for its resident Robert F. Williams, a black militant who frequently clashed with the Ku Klux Klan. I collaborated with local librarians and professors to record the history of William’s actions for Civil Rights, as well as the actions of the Freedom Riders who moved to Monroe to teach local youth peaceful protests. I discovered that because of the large and violent presence of the KKK, the peaceful protests were not successful.
Due to the complex nature of the Civil Rights Movement in Monroe, the sparse history of its recorded buildings, and the loss of structures over time, this report is not complete and there are some inaccuracies. Patricia Poland, the local librarian for the public library is creating an addendum to my report, and both are stored in the Historic Preservation Office in Raleigh.
My section of the CivilRightsContextReport includes a history of Union County African American populations, a short summary of the built environment, and a survey of the buildings related to the Movement in Monroe.