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Guess Who? Black History Month Edition

Guess Who? Black History Month Edition

This Black History Month, Atkins Library is highlighting several notable Black Charlotteans. Learn more about these six figures below.

Dr. Alma Adams

Alma Adams official portraitDr. Alma Adams serves as the representative for North Carolina's 12th district in the United States House of Representatives. Dr. Adams serves on several House committees and has supported legislation that improves funding for Historically Black Colleges & Universities, increases teacher pay, and provides nutritious breakfasts for public school students. More recently, Adams has worked with Vice President Kamala Harris on a bill to address Black maternal health.

Photo credit: Alma Adams' Congressional Office

Julius L. Chambers

Photo of Julius ChambersJulius L. Chambers was the first Black lawyer to integrate a North Carolina law firm in Charlotte. He litigated several civil rights cases with the Supreme Court, including the landmark Swann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg Board of Education.

Learn more about Julius Chambers through Atkins Library's archival collection of his papers spanning from 1964-1979.

Photo credit: Judy Chambers

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins

Photo of Dorothy Counts ScogginsDorothy Counts-Scoggins was one of the first Black students to enroll in Charlotte's Harding University High School. She was at the vanguard of the city's efforts to integrate Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in 1957, despite facing racial harassment and abuse from her fellow classmates. Dorothy currently resides in Charlotte, NC.

Learn more about Dorothy Counts-Scoggins through Atkins Library's oral history from 2006.

Photo credit: NCR-CML


Harvey B. Gantt

Photo of Harvey B. GanttHarvey Gantt was the first Black mayor of Charlotte, serving two terms from 1983 to 1987. As an active Democratic politician in North Carolina, Gantt also ran twice for the United States Senate against Jesse Helms in the 1990s. Harvey was an accomplished architect and was the first Black student to attend Clemson University.

Learn more about Harvey Gantt through Atkins Library's archival collection of Gantt's papers, including speeches, political advertisements, and oral histories.

Photo credit: Atkins Library's Special Collections and University Archives

T.J. Reddy

Photo of TJ ReddyT.J. Reddy was a renowned artist, poet, and civil rights activist. He studied history and creative writing at UNC Charlotte and was involved in social justice protests while he was a student. He helped to found the Black Student Union and Black Studies Department, now known as the Africana Studies Department. One of T.J. Reddy's works, "The Child is an Open Book" is currently on display in the main stairway of Atkins Library.

Learn more about T.J. Reddy through Atkins Library's oral history with Reddy from 2004 and Dr. Mark West's blog post honoring Reddy's legacy.

Photo credit: Atkins Library's Special Collections and University Archives

Allegra Westbrooks

Allegra Westbrooks was the first Black public library supervisor in North Carolina, serving in 1947 as the head of Negro Library Services for the public library's segregated library branch. Within her long career with Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries, Westbrooks also established a book mobile program that benefited underserved communities in Charlotte. Charlotte Mecklenburg Libraries recently honored Westbrook by renaming a library branch in her honor.

Learn more about Allegra Westbrooks through Atkins Library's oral history interview and Charlotte Mecklenburg Library's recent feature on her life and legacy.

Photo credit: NCR-CML