History marked

N.C. is home to heros of the big screen, and in real life

Nov. 8, 1965

Lawrence Joel wounded in Vietnam

On Nov. 8, 1965, Specialist/SFC Lawrence Joel of Winston-Salem, a Korean War veteran, began a routine patrol near Bien Hoa, Vietnam. Joel and his unit, the 1st Battalion of the 503rd Airborne Infantry, were ambushed by a Viet Cong battalion that outnumbered them six to one. Wounded twice by machine gun fire, Joel, who was a medic, bandaged his wounds, self-administered a shot of morphine and continued to tend to his unit’s many wounded paratroopers. The fighting continued for nearly 24 hours and, during that time, Joel put his life at to risk saving the wounded in his company and another unit. After the battle he spent three months in Saigon and Tokyo hospitals before returning to the United States. In March 1967, Joel received the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Lyndon B. Johnson. He was the first medical airman to ever receive the award, the first living African-American to receive the award since the Spanish-American War, the first enlisted man to receive the award from Johnson and the first soldier from Winston-Salem to be so honored. A career soldier, Joel retired from the service in 1973 and died in 1984. He is buried in Arlington Cemetery. The Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Winston-Salem is named in his honor.

Nov. 9, 1973

Floyd McKissick and Soul City

On Nov. 9, 1973, civil rights activist Floyd McKissick broke ground on Soul City in rural Warren County. The Soul City project sought to improve the economic prospects of underprivileged African-Americans by providing them with affordable housing and an alternative to urban slums. Warren County was chosen for the project because it was one of the poorest areas in the state. McKissick, the driving force behind the project, was the first African-American man to go to law school at the University of North Carolina and thought that economic power was the first step to political freedom. The project received several million dollars in support from the state and federal government, as well as from private donors. The first facility constructed at Soul City was an impressive water system and factory named SoulTech I.  However, the project was largely derailed by a 1975 exposé in the Raleigh News & Observer that charged McKissick with corruption. Even though the accusations were found to be false, the controversy that surrounded the article led the project to be audited and caused it lose support from the business community. The project fell into a slump and effectively ended when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development withdrew its support in 1979.

November 10, 1898

Wilmington Race Riots

On Nov. 10, 1898, the year’s white supremacy campaign culminated with a race riot in Wilmington, marking the onset of the Jim Crow era of segregation in the state. Though traditionally termed a “race riot,” many have called the event a massacre. In the days preceding the November election, a local citizen named Alfred Mooree Waddell called for the removal of the Republicans and Populists then in power in Wilmington. He proposed in a speech that the white residents, if necessary, “choke the Cape Fear with carcasses.” Tensions came to a head on Nov. 10 when Waddell led about 500 white men to the office of the Daily Record, a local black-owned newspaper. The mob broke into the building, a fire broke out, and the top floor of the building was consumed. The crowd swelled to nearly 2,000 as it moved across town, spreading violence. The number of dead is disputed but the coroner’s office reported 14.

Nov. 11, 1949

Long-delayed dedication of NCSU Belltower

On Nov. 11, 1949, the Memorial Belltower, a prominent landmark on the campus of NC State University, was dedicated. Gov. Gregg Cherry was one of the many dignitaries in attendance. Conceived as a memorial to those alumni who died in service to the country during World War I, the belltower is a symbol of the university and a gathering point for the campus community. The cornerstone was laid in 1921, with sections added in 1924, 1925 and 1926. Despite the Great Depression and World War II, construction continued through the 1930s and 1940s. The Depression-era federal Works Progress Administration program supplied the funds to complete construction of the stone tower in 1937, and the class of 1938 donated a clock and the class of 1939 added flood lighting. Subsequent alterations include the addition of chimes, a shrine room and a memorial plaque. The plaque lists 35 alumni who died, but one name was listed in error. That name was changed and left on the plaque to represent the unknown soldiers from NSCU and elsewhere.

Nov.r 13, 1867

Jane McKimmon was born

On Nov. 13, 1867, Jane McKimmon, leader of North Carolina’s home demonstration movement, was born. State-sponsored home demonstration work began in North Carolina in 1911. McKimmon, who was known for keeping a neat garden on Raleigh’s Blount Street, was hired to “take charge of the ‘girl’s canning work.’” McKimmon expanded the size and scope of the program, growing its enrollment from 416 women in 14 counties to 75,000 women in all of North Carolina’s 100 counties by 1941. Her work, by one estimation, “led rural women and girls to a fuller, more comfortable, and efficient life.” McKimmon was the first woman in the nation to receive the “Distinguished Ruby Award” of Epsilon Sigma Phi, the honorary extension fraternity. In 1966, she was elected to the North Carolina Agricultural Hall of Fame. The continuing education center at NC State University, built in 1975, is named in her honor.

Nov. 14, 1953

Andy Griffith’s “What It Was, Was Football” recorded

On Nov. 14, 1953, the Colonial label in Raleigh released Andy Griffith’s monologue “What It Was, Was Football.” Colonial was owned by Chapel Hill newspaper publisher Orville B. Campbell, who had heard Griffith perform the comedy bit at a luncheon earlier that year. The narrator of the story is a young man who happens upon a football game — something he had never experienced before. His retelling of the game included a description of the football: “It was that both bunches full of them wanted this funny looking little pumpkin to play with. They did. And I know, friends, that they couldn’t eat it because they kicked it the whole evening and it never busted.” “What it Was, Was Football” helped launch Griffith’s career, which ultimately took him from North Carolina to Broadway. He went on to star in movies and television shows and became a Grammy Award-winning singer. After many years in front of the camera, Griffith returned to North Carolina, and settled in Manteo, where he remained until his death on July 3, 2012.

SOURCE: N.C. Archives