Monday, July 30, 2012

The sport that came from Prohibition.

Most sports are created out of fun, but NASCAR was created out of the necessity of alcohol.

Prohibition banned the sale of alcohol, posing obvious problems for owners of bars and taverns. In retaliation to this law, many illegal bars opened up in hidden, obscure locations. 

During the Prohibition era, a time when the sell and consumption of alcohol was illegal, men and sometimes women still wanted their spirits. The idea of Prohibition was not recieved lightly, especially in the South. 

Prohibition generated a large number of protests. 
People were not going to stop drinking, even if they had to create the alcohol themselves. Moonshine became a business and livelihood of the people who would take the risks of brewing their own drinks. Proving to be extremely profitable, distillers would smuggle moonshine all throughout the South. 
Illegal moonshine manufactured in underground distilleries. 
In order to evade getting caught by the police, moonshiners would modify their cars, lowering their back ends, and would speed off in the eventual pursuit. If they got caught by the police, there went the money in order to feed their families. 

An example of a "moonshiner's" car.
The exhilaration of racing away from trouble, turned into fun. Eventually the people with their modified cars would race each other, but it was still a necessity to get away from the police. After Prohibition was deemed unconstitutional, alcohol was back to its original legal standing, but the idea of racing the modified cars was still appealing. Racing became a hobby and sport that would stand the test of time.

A race from the early days of NASCAR.
Check out the blog to see more about what came of racing!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Student protest, pickets and "Stop the War!"

This week's image deals with protests to the Vietnam War, right here in Charlotte, NC. 

The Civil Rights and Anti-Vietnam War movements provided models for the women's movement." Barbara Ferguson, Vietnam Protest Rally, Freedom Park 1969.
Many marginalized movements fed off of each other in the mid to late 1900s, hoping to achieve many rights which groups of people did not originally have. Protests such as these were held, usually with youths and college students, to get the points of equality across to the public. With the start of the Vietnam War in 1965, students, vets, men, women, black, and white started to shout "Stop the War."

Parades and gatherings were valuable tools to protest the war. 
American's did not see why the war was important for the US to be involved, and were tired of sending their men to a fight that was not theirs. Many times this was a chance for women to stand up for what they believed in because they were the mothers, wives, and daughters of the men who were getting sent and killed.

Most Vietnam protest signs would say things like "Stop the War," or some variation of it, but the sign held by the woman on the right says "No V.C. (Viet Cong) Ever Called Me N*gger." This is a quote from a famous speech made by Cassius Clay, who later became known as Muhammad Ali.

Muhammad Ali. 
Ali was a prize-winning US boxer and an opponent of the war. This was directly due to his beliefs with the Nation of Islam, which was also known as The Black Muslims group. Ali said he would not fight in the Vietnam war after being drafted, because his faith doesn't tell members to fight in wars not declared by Allah or The Messenger. Ali said this quote to show that he had no problem with VietCongs, but his problem is with those in the US that call him n*gger.

Needless to say, this time was a hotbed of political action from women, religious, and race leaders alike.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

It all starts with just one voice, just one protest...

Sometimes even the most unassuming people might be partly responsible for changing the world. Look at the following photo, one of this week's images:

In it, you see two young women in the very front. In the background, you see a collection of diverse students, all from different races and backgrounds. Unanimous, though, is their collective unhappiness: this group is actively participating in a protest against the Vietnam War. Due to protests like the one documented above, as well as many exterior factors, the Vietnam War ended prematurely with a U.S. pullout in 1975. 

For more information on this image and the backstory associated with it, please check back in a day or two. 

Thank you for your attention. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Loray Mill: Textiles, strikes and worker's rights.

Good morning! Today's blog post will take you to Gastonia, a town just West of Charlotte, NC. Once there, we'll talk about an event that was crucial to both North Carolina and United States history, specifically in regards to worker's rights—the Loray Mill Strike in 1929.

Gastonia, NC.
In order to make as much money as possible, mill owners adopted a “stretch-out” policy towards their workers. In other words, mill owners reduced workers wages while increasing their responsibilities. Mill workers were often denied restroom and water breaks, and were expected to work near nonstop to reduce costs for the mill owners. Obviously, mill workers were very angry—they were being denied basic rights. 

The Loray Mill as it appeared in the early 1900s. 
Sympathizing with the problems of the average mill worker, the National Textile Workers Union (NTWU), a communist labor party, began to reach out to oppressed workers. Fred Beal, a representative of the NTWU, recognized the large number of unhappy workers in the small North Carolina town of Gastonia, and began working heavily in the region.

In March of 1929, the NTWU held its first public meeting in Gastonia, during which the union’s leadership began urging workers to object and stand firm. The meeting was very successful, as all of the workers in attendance voted to strike immediately. This plan began on April 1, 1929, when 1,800 workers from the Loray Mill in Gastonia walked away from their workplace to protest unworkable conditions. The striking workers demanded a minimum wage, the end of the stretch-out system, as well as the recognition of unions by mill owners.

This book was published by the National Textile Worker's Union in 1929. It was intended to raise support for the NTWU's cause and describes the conditions that caused the strike and the "terror" that followed afterwards. 
Irritated at their requests, mill owners ordered workers to vacate mill-owned housing, leaving protesters angry and defensive, as well as homeless. North Carolina Governor O. Max Gardner recognized tensions and deployed 250 National Guard troops to the Mill to maintain order. In the following months, the strike escalated, resulting in many acts of violence and continued resistance. The strike lasted until September of 1929, but was not a success.

This week's image: the Loray Mill Strike.
Violently suppressed by the government, this strike paved the way for the formation of the United Textile Workers. This union took many years to form yet, once organized, fought to protect the interests of mill workers.

Much like how a small rockslide can start an avalanche, this strike had significant consequences for the South and the United States, as a whole.

Obviously, this mill played a very important role in Southern history; just what happened to it?

The Loray Mill as it stands today. 
In the 1930s, the Loray Mill was sold and repurposed, transforming into a tire factory. Instead of spinning cotton, the Mill now spun tire cord. In the 1990s, though, its future became uncertain. Firestone Tire Company, the previous owner, built a new manufacturing plant in Kings Mountain, a nearby town. Firestone donated the building to a historic preservation society, but no buyer could be found. The building continually set vacant until a plan was developed and put into action this past June.

The future Loray Mill.
Camden Development Partners, a group based in Atlanta, has received a financial commitment to begin the Loray Mill Project. This project, depicted above, will create 190 loft apartments and over 79,000 square feet of commercial space. Residents in Gastonia hope that this will become a centerpiece to Western Gastonia, reviving the previously-struggling district. 

The first phase of this project is schedule to be completed by late 2013.

The Loray Mill interior presently. Imagine the possibilities!
For more information, here are two links to respective news articles about this new project:

1.) An article from the Charlotte Observer: 

2.) An article from WBTV: 

Friday, July 20, 2012

'We want change!' Mill strikes and protests in the South.

This weeks image deals with the idea of workers rights as a whole, and those that fought for them.

Once the South started to industrialize, workers realized that a job in the mills was not much better than working on the farm. This was disappointing since many people fled to the mills because they were finally able to make a steady wage, instead of getting paid only once a year. They could have a job, a home, food, and money to live off of, on a monthly bases. Although this prospect of a new life seem perfect at the time, once the work started, so did the problems.

Children, teenagers, and adults all worked alongside each other. The mills were filthy, hot, and dangerous. The wages the workers were receiving were very small, and most of the money went back to the mill owners. The mill owners owned the town, the houses, and the stores. The wages, which were paid to the workers, were then spent at the stores and on the rent for the houses. Many people were extremely unhappy with this system, but could not fight against it because that would mean loosing their jobs and homes. They were 'owned' by the mill owner.  

Eventually, seeing the problems with the systems, workers began to group together with the common goal of better working conditions. Keep posted for the next blog that will go into the strikes and protests that would change the South, with lasting impressions today.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Despite changing times, Latino culture perseveres.

In the past few decades the number of Latinos that have immigrated to America has grown enormously. In this picture a Latin American family is celebrating a confirmation celebration. In the Catholic and other Christian traditions certain rites of passage, or rituals that mark a status change, are done with families and are large celebrations. many of these events include colors that symbolize ‘cleansing’ and ‘new beginning,’ such as white does in this photo. There are also symbols such as candles and clothes that are worn for the festivals. In Catholicism Confirmations are usually done to a baptised youth when they are 14. This is the age when they are accepted as an adult into the church. Many religions such as Judaism have similar rituals and rite of passage into the faith communities.

Luis Rey Velasco is the photographer. He is a graduate of East Carolina University and has worked photographing Latino families. He has focused on how these families carry their traditions in the changing New South that is now their home. Despite the influx of various cultures and diverse people into the New South, Velasco's photographs illustrate how  traditional Latino cultures are preserved, creating a strong sense of community among the population.

For more information on the photographer, you can view his website:

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The New South Latino community.

This week, for the Summer Virtual Series, we will be looking at the Latino community that is rapidly growing in the South. For the last two decades, more and more Latino immigrants are coming to the South and with them their cultures and traditions. From religion, family, food, and friends, the Latin American community shows that strong roots will never change. Keeping their traditions alive, Latinos practice their own forms of them and incorporate Southern customs, as well. Southern states have accommodated the growing number of immigrants in a variety of ways, such as Latin women's associations, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, and Latino Immigration Studies, among others. These groups help new immigrants settle into their new lives in the South.

This week, the image focuses on the standing traditions that keep the Latino community alive. Stay posted for the next blog!

Friday, July 13, 2012

And the end of child labor...

The next image in the Summer Virtual Series was one that helped to end the use of child labor.

This photo of a young lady, working as a spinner in a cotton mill, was taken by Lewis Wickes Hine. This particular picture was taken in 1908 at Vivian Cotton Mills in Cherryville, North Carolina. Hine took many photographs around child labour and poverty, from 1900 to 1937. Since Hine was a sociologist and photographer, he used his camera and photos for social reform, especially in the area of child poverty.

Lewis Hine.
He felt especially drawn to child labour, being a school teacher himself, to which he started working with The National Child Labour Committee in 1908. In the time he worked with the Committee he made his way around the nation capturing the true nature of poverty and children in the workplace. In a lecture he gave during his travels, Hine stated that, "Perhaps you are weary of child labour pictures. Well, so are the rest of us, but we propose to make you and the whole country so sick and tired of the whole business that when the time for action comes, child labour pictures will be records of the past." This statement would prove to be true when, with the help of Hine and the National Child Labour Committee, the Keates-Owens Act came to pass.

A flyer made to end child labor
Although the Keates-Owens Acts was deemed to be unconstitutional, it set the stage for the progressive movement towards the dissolve of child labor in the United States. Eventually in 1938, Congress passed the Fair Labor Standards Act which set a limit to the age of workers in certain circumstances. Staying true to his words, the pictures that Hines took, this young woman and of others, became a record of the child labor past.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A new image, a new topic: Child Labor and its demise.

The Next image in our Summer Virtual Series focuses on child labor in factories, and the people who fought to protect the rights of children.

The American Industrial Revolution started in the 1800s. Most factories were created in the northern parts of the United States, but this trend slowly trickle down towards the South. New factories meant new jobs for people looking for work.

Photograph by Lewis Hine. 

After Reconstruction, the South was open for textile industry to boom. Families, who were having a hard time making ends meet with growing crops, found the idea of having a steady paycheck appealing. They packed up their entire lives and moved into the towns built around the factories. Mill towns sprang up and with that, parents and children all lived by and worked in those factories. Because the entire family worked on the farm, the entire family needed to bring in money from the factory.

A Mill Town
Child Labor became widely used in the factory systems.

Some people would ask, "How can children work in factories like that?" There were some regulations put into place in order to protect the children, but they were typically not good enough. Most times foreman's would overlook laws to protect the children, because that would mean less profit for them. The factories were dangerous and filthy, but children needed to work on some of the machines, since they could fit into the smaller spaces.

Even though the conditions in the factory were horrible for children, mill owners wanted the lower wage workers. Spending less money on young workers who could work the same hours as older workers, seemed profitable. Because of this, children of all ages worked in the factories, usually starting at the age of 6 or 7. Seeing the injustice of this system, people started to fight to protect the safety of children.

Check out the blog soon for more to come on how people fought to end child labor, and the images that started it all!

Friday, July 6, 2012

So what IS Billy Graham doing with that cow?

Billy Graham, one of the most well-known and revered evangelists of modern times, was born in Charlotte, NC in 1918. He grew up on a dairy farm a few miles outside of the city which is where this picture was taken. 

The silo in the background can be seen at the Billy Graham home site, a recreation of the original Billy Graham homestead located a few miles away from the library today. This site is preserved by the Billy Graham Library, a museum that opened to the public in 2007. In this museum, visitors can follow the life of Billy Graham and can learn more about his ministry. In addition to the museum, this location also houses the international headquarters of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

The Billy Graham Library as seen during the spring.
(Picture credit: billy

The Billy Graham Library as seen decorated for Christmas. During the weeks preceding December 25th, the library conducts many programs and offers carriage rides around the grounds of the library.
(Picture credit:

In 1934 (at the age of 16), Graham made a faithful commitment to Christ during a revival meeting, and honored this agreement by attending the Florida Bible Institute. He graduated in 1943 from Wheaton College in 1943 and accepted his first pastor seat in Illinois.
Following this acceptance, Graham began preaching around the United States and, as he grew in popularity, Europe, as well. He became widely recognized as a powerfully charismatic evangelist and, in 1949, conducted an eight-week crusade in Los Angeles.

The site of Billy Graham's first Crusade in Los Angeles during 1949. The Crusade stretched out for eight weeks and attracted over 350,000 individuals. Seventy-two services were held.

The 1949 Crusade provided Graham with detailed media attention, furthering his popularity and prestige. Through media outlets such as the radio, the newly-emerging television and the print media, Graham was able to spread his message literally around the world. 

Graham has been featured on numerous magazine covers, including Time Magazine (above.)

Billy Graham has led Crusades in Australia, Russia and Norway, among many other countries. This international recognition has given him the confidence and support to establish the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in 1950 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (In 2003 this Association moved to Charlotte, NC.) This organization helped to organize Graham's many ministries, some of which have included weekly radio broadcasts, televised crusades, newspaper columns, evangelistic films and an international aid organization, all geared towards spreading the gospel of Christ. Graham has also authored over thirty books, many of which have won numerous awards.

Graham's autobiography, Just as I am.

Billy Graham remains one of the most popular Christian personalities of United States history and has even gained widespread popularity in the secular world. In addition to his other ministries, he has served a spiritual advisor to every U.S. President since Dwight D. Eisenhower. 

Billy Graham (center) with son, Franklin Graham (right) and President Barack Obama (left) in 2010.
(Photo credit: Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. More images of Graham with various Presidents may be found at

Through his masterful use of media communication, Graham and his ministry have brought much recognition to Southern culture. He demonstrates the product of what has traditionally been labeled the “Bible Belt,” a traditionally conservative, evangelical Protestant region in the Southernmost United States. Religion has always been important in the South, due in some part to the recurrence of personalities such as Billy Graham.

If you would like to learn more about Billy Graham, try following the links below:

1.) The link directly below will direct you to an archive of Graham's Crusades, ranging from the late 1940s to the mid 2000s.

2.) This address refers you to the website for the Billy Graham Library, a museum located in Charlotte, NC that documents the life of this renowned Charlottean.

3.) The last link will direct you to the Billy Graham Evangelisitc Association homepage. An organization founded by Graham in 1950 and serves in all areas of ministry, from disaster relief to evangelizing.

4.) The link directly below will direct you to a video clip filmed during Graham's 1949 Los Angeles Crusade. Some highlights are offered below:

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Is that Billy Graham... and Bessie?

What is one of the nation's most revered evangelists doing next to that cow? While you ponder that question, a clarification might be beneficial.

The man on the right is Billy Graham, a famous Protestant evangelist from North Carolina. Known for his wildly popular revivals, he has remained very active in the faith community to this day. The founder of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, his influence has been felt around the world.

For more information on this iconic figure from Southern history, please check back soon!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Has that Betty Feezor blog left you "hungry" for more?

In case you were a little "hungry" after reading about the remarkable life of Betty Feezor, then here is "dessert," if you will.
Listed below is one of Betty's famous, mouth-watering recipes: her personal take on the famous brownie.

Here are the ingredients:

1 cup margarine (melted in a sauce pan)
2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 cups flour
½ cup cocoa
1 tsp vanilla
nuts (optional at about ½ cup or to what you like)

Here's what to do with them:
Mix the melted margarine and sugar with a mixer. Add eggs one at a time. Mix in cocoa and then the flour. Then, use a spoon to mix in the nuts if you add those. Cook at 350 F for 13-20 minutes. 


Also included are two links to videos shared on Youtube that document the life of Mrs. Feezor. These videos were originally aired on WBTV. One offers a brief biography of Betty Feezor; the other is an actual taping of her famous show.

1.) This video was aired on WBTV on Feezor's 20th anniversary show, as well as on the night of her death in 1978. It lasts roughly six and a half minutes and is a tribute to Betty Feezor.

2.) The second video is an actual taping of the Betty Feezor show. In it, Feezor discusses many different things, from how to make a fashionable scarf as well as how to roast a holiday turkey and how to make a peanut butter pudding. There are four parts to the full-length video; attached is part one.

On Air in: 5,4,3,2,1... History!

The Civil Rights Era of the 1940s to 1980s has many notable figure heads from the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. to Carolinians such as J.A. DeLaine, but not much is said about the women who blazed the trails for rights using this same freedom fighting momentum. Betty Feezor was one such woman that did indeed change the face of television. 

This image was taken during the taping of the Betty Feezor Cooking Show's 20th episode in 1953.
During the 1950s and 60s, Charlotte network television, much like the rest of America, aired few women on their shows. Betty Feezor, however, was on air and hosted a wildly popular cooking show on WBTV. The image featured this week is from her show, The Betty Feezor Cooking Show's, 20th episode in 1953. In 1958, her show was the first color video program aired on national network television, a huge milestone in women broadcasting history. For 24 years her show was one of the most famous to air on the WBTV's network and she was a trailblazer for women, both state and nationwide. She was a natural behind the camera and was able to interview many famous people, including both President Nixon and Rose Kennedy.  

In addition to her television show, Feezor was also the author of a series of cookbooks.
In 1982 she was elected into the North Carolina Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame. Unfortunately, she died in 1973 from cancer, but her life and groundbreaking women's work on television is documented in her published diary "A Life that Mattered." Feezor personified the example of proper ‘women's’ behavior and domestic lifestyle, but was also a leader by example of what bounds women could leap. Feezor's struggle for women's rights was not the only struggle going on at the time.

Many other Civil Rights movements happened during this time, such as beginning of the struggle for rights for Latin Americans, Native Americans, LGBTQ, and women's rights. The ways that television and radio were now common in the lives of many Americans made the listeners and viewers more aware of these movements, leading to a much greater social impact.