tv James Shepard North Carolina College CSPAN February 16, 2019 9:30pm-9:50pm EST
shepherd. in this interview, recorded at annual american historical association meeting, he talked shepherd's involvement in education and politics. his impact on north carolina, navr gaitigated the jim crow era. minutes.about 20 >> reginald ellis, professor at florida a&m university, let's talk about this gentleman, the politics of james edward shepard, who was he? was an individual who was born and raised of a was a prominent african-american minister in the state of north carolina, his were individuals who actually came out of the endedution of slavery and up driving, as prominent frican-americans, in the state of north carolina. r. shepard goes on to receive an advanced education at what's
now charlotte university and on to also become one of the first african-american of macists in the state north carolina. shortly thereafter, he goes on his father's ootsteps, and tries out the ministry, and travels the world with the international sunday association, which leads him to his higher calling chult becomes creating the institution, that is present day north carolina central university. >> what about his role in terms historically n of black colleges and universities? >> i think that the role that he in creating that institution in particular, when we look back there was, at the turn of the century, an either/or debate. education should african-americans have at the turn of the century. 19 -- excuse me, by 1881,
the tuskegee institution was created many individuals using the chapman armstrong odel for higher education for african-americans, so when shepard came on the scene by the with the founding of national religious institute in which i -- for the negro race he reated a liberal arts institution. although it was private at the ime, by 1923, it becomes a publicly state supported institution of higher learning african-americans. what he does, he uses both the model of self-help dubois model of liberal arts and reality to create this institution of higher learning the first state supported institution of higher learning for african-americans, supported in the nation.
you put his life into perspective, when and where he his personal was life like? >> he was born in 1875 in north carolina. again, many would say, born of privilege because of who of parents were in the state north carolina. these individuals focused, they to ensure their children had not only education but had a sense of morality, a sense of purpose, a sense of leadership throughout ried him his life. he was a very prominent individual not only in the state north carolina but also hroughout many high ranking circles throughout the southeastern region. ot only was he a prominent businessman, he was a co-founder of the north carolina mutual and private association, which is oldest he african-american insurance
companies in the nation. prominent very politician. now, he wasn't a politician, but e was a very strong supporter of the republican party in the late 1800s, and in the early 1900s, so he had very strong ties to political candidates life.ghout his so he was a very influential ndividual due to the ties of his father, due to his ties with the duke family out of north to his , and due political ties and his political connections. residuals of his connections ends up in the long benefiting his institution which ultimately would benefit african-americans in the state north carolina. >> i'm intrigued because you said the republican party, so what does that tell you about he state of the republican party during the turn of the century and where the democrats were during that time period? > at that time, the republican party was the more liberal party in the nation.
and the democratic party was the he conservative branch, so stayed with the republican party throughout his life, throughout time, up until his death in 1947. staunch supporter of the republican party in the era. ironically, on the national level. of the ocal level, many individuals who supported his institution were democrats. state supported democrats, state legislators. him institution, so he was a very shrewd, keen his way of n navigating the political arena. of xplain the formation north carolina college. he o, it started out, actually starts in 1909, but it's not incorporated until 1910. out as the national religious training institute negro race.e after he travels the world with
he international sunday school association, he gets this calling to believe that the best to move african-americans forward was through the better training of ministers. he believed that if ministers, african-american ministers were properly educated and properly they would be able to go back to their communities and congregations on proper morality. vision to create this institution that would properly train african-american ministers. and so, when he gets back to begins to ina, he campaign, to create this and he openly tells he amin newton family that wants to model his school in some ways off of the trinity durham, that was in north carolina. an institution that they were already funding. said, we'll have a
rinity on one end of town, and we'll have my institution on the other end of town, and we can advanceether and really this entire community. over time, due to financial struggles, by 1923, the state of north carolina steps in and fund this institution. what's ironic about that when they took over, they changed the did not change the curriculum, and they did not change the individual who was institution. and so, what's important about historical arger scale, when we say that it's the first state supported institution of higher learning african-americans, liberal he , openly liberal arts, ever had the concept of being an a&m university or mechanical arts institution. liberalpenly supporting arts education in the deep outh, from 1910 throughout his life, and throughout the institution's legacy.
legacy uld part of his be dr. martin luther king and dr. ralph abernathy and others? would think all of these hpcs, it's about black leaders, right? of the things that i often tell individuals, that his back t legacy, you can go to early readings and writes of wrote an article of building black durham, and he, he states that, without north carolina, or james -- institution, slum-filled be a migrant community, but because this institution that was created here in durham, north carolina, you have a prominent middle and black professional class, a class of individuals who go on to become teachers, doctors, lawyers, and black professionals. shepard is out
n 1947, he's out campaigning for funds to create a medical school because he didn't believe that there was enough of esentation african-americans in the state of north carolina, medical thatrs, and so he believed his institution would transform black life in america. he viewed by his peers? and was he a national figure during this time? on a was a national figure political level. he was a very heavy hitter. know ndividuals don't about him in the sense of his college. of individuals knew about him as a political heavyweight. that he made statements on political issues and the 1930s, that, in some cases, were controversial. residual effect of that was more institutional particular his school. >> what was he like as a person? a veryppears that he was
stern individual, from my readings. very conservative. it he was very smart as relates -- related to not being put into a position personally acquiesce to the jim crow era. when he was having -- when he wanted to go purchase clothes he would have to him.als come th him ailors would come to and show him clothes to try on and when he wanted to be -- i'maphed, he would go told his photographer was out of new york city. mindful of the customs of jim crowism. who he was in the black community, he never wanted into a position where he would have to take a second class seat because he knew the black community was him and he knew he was the leader of that community. >> ann wonder if you can put his life and the time period in
context, because clearly, this s, and the he 1950 civil rights movement of the and the legislation put forth by johnson what did he face in terms of racism? he faced very, very staunch racism. again, he was , very calculated. many individuals often ask the booker t. hat would washington have been like if he had lived beyond 1915? reasons why i chose james shepard because, in many ays, the early writings of him was that he was booker t. ashington of north carolina, and he lived beyond 1915, so you climate see the racial shift post1915. ore individuals, more african-americans are demanding things now. away, in roach goes many ways he goes, by the end of starts to shift.
one instance that i discuss in winter k is, on a cold goesin january of 1927, he to the state capitol to lobby for funds for his institution. he has on an overcoat. he has on a hat. he gets on the elevator with all legislators, racial etiquette of the day was african-americans were always upposed to take their hat off in the presence of white males. well, while he was on this kept his hat on, no one said anything, but a few ays later, one of the legislators requested a bill to remove funding from the institution from under the school, the public instruction, and put it under directly under legislators, e because he wanted to really punish shepard for that. those were some of the ways that shepard, he didn't vertly challenge white supremacy in that time. he did it in a more subvert way. remove his hat
really challenging the racial etiquette of the day, but at the same time, he came back and said i didn't realize i had my hat on. the types of ways do away would attempt to on with the racial etiquette of the day. what motivated you to write this book? >> i read a book in graduate and jim tled gender a w by elizabeth gillmore, great work on race relations in the state of north carolina and athere was a chapter on the ivory tower, and about as one passage james shepard, and that's what led me down this trail. so based on your research, how do you think he would view relations, race generally speaking in this country in 2019? >> i think he would look at the of black colleges, and he
would say that they are more were evenay than they back in his heyday. is that byi say that shifts its focus from human rights to civil and was, in some shift ways, an attack on black looking at the dual system saying these black are not properly funded which means they are not properly prepared to train frican-americans, which means they are getting second class it ation, which means that, violates ferguson. on one hand everything they are true but on the other hand it's attacking these black institutions so what he was without in many ways, overtly arguing, that if these black institutions go away, the thatr of african-americans had the opportunity to receive on to education, to go become black professionals,
would decrease. century,k in the 21st, if shepard were here today i think he would make the same 21st century, and possibly use some of the used in actics that he 1920s and 1930s. the great during depression, post great depression, funding for his increased. actually he received more programs, he was one of the first nstitutions of higher learning for african-americans to actually receive graduate programs, and he received those by 1938 and rams 1939. >> is that your message to historians here in chicago? one of them. >> what else? again, out of t, black colleges and oourts, when we look at those individuals those institutions created, even today, we so, in this most recent governor's elections south, you had,
in georgia with the spellman florida, you had, florida a&m university graduate maryland, i believe you had another hbc graduate. this still shows the relevance, just the historical relevance, but the present day black s of historically colleges and universities. all still living up to that next n of training the generation of leaders within the african-american community. professor ellis is teaching students in tallahassee, what are the you?nts asking >> it depends on the day. questions are, is this still relevant? questions are, how could some of these instances happen? questions are, if they could -- if these individuals they were e things overt do in more
challenges, why can't we do it today? a lot of the questions that i receive, articularly at florida a&m university by my students. >> and what final question in researching this book, anything didn't you that you know? >> a lot surprised me. ecause when you look at the early readings of james shepard, as an totally painted accommodationist just like beeker t. washington is totally an accommodationist. one of the things that, after i that research, i find these, all of these individuals practicing a -- practicing pragmatists, the thousands of individuals that they lives thatousands of they changed, the communities changed, the way the
changed,, if you will, because of some unpopular made, in the instance, but in the long term, the institutions that they established, they and the students that they trained at those institutions, eally, really changed the narrative of the south, i believe. for generations. based on the g, picture on the cover, very distinguished jashgs if he walked into the room, you would and take notice? >> very. house still is on that campus today. when you walk in the house, i was give an tour two years ago, aura.n still feel his if you go on campus there is a tatue of him in front of the administration building. you can still get the sense of there onnding presence the sidewalks, at his institution. here are footprints on the sidewalk, which represents
shepard's footprints, because today you can't go to north carolina central university without knowing who he is. can't really go in that area of north carolina without the name james shepard, nd he's transitions out since 1947, for a young historian like didn't know anything about him, until i picked up that book years ago to who stand the decision of he was, it's very, very owerful, to take him out of just being a black college president, and making him, understanding his role as really uplifter, from about 1890 to 1947. >> thank you for telling us your story. thanks for having me. >> this weekend, american history tv is joining our cable partners to