From the StarNews archives:
47 years ago
I’m enjoying the StarNews of 1971. Forty-seven years ago, I was nearly 7, so more of the people, places and stories are familiar.
February 1971 was a turbulent time for Wilmington. Racial tensions had been fomenting around school integration and the closing of Williston Senior High School. In February 1971, tensions boiled over into violence. It was also the month that the United Church of Christ sent the Rev. Benjamin Chavis here to advocate for and help organize local black students seeking to have their grievances heard.
Chavis and nine others would eventually be arrested, convicted, sent to prison, have the convictions overturned, and, on Dec. 31, 2012, be pardoned by Gov. Beverly Perdue. The group, of course, became known as the Wilmington Ten.
It will be interesting to see how the StarNews reported the events of that tumultuous February and the months that followed. In 1971, the paper was still owned by the Page family. It’s my impression that publisher Rinaldo B. “Rye” Page Jr. was first and foremost a businessman and civic leader/booster. And racial strife, among its many other faults, was bad for business.
(In 1975, the Page family sold the StarNews to The New York Times Co. and Rye Page retired to Bal Harbour, Fla. He died in 2013 at 91. The Times Co. sold the paper to Halifax Media Group in 2012 and in 2015 Halifax was acquired by the Star’s current owner, Gatehouse Media.)
Feb. 1, 1971: A Fish (and chips) Tale -- A gone-but-not-forgotten eatery was having its grand opening. Cedric’s Fish & Chips had recently opened at 3807 Oleander Drive. To mark the occasion, an order of fish and chips and a drink was only $1 -- tax included. (Emma and John Olsen owned Cedric’s, which initially was part of a franchise. In 1973, the couple opened a Baskin-Robbins ice cream parlor next door, which is still there today. Emma Olsen put Cedric’s up for sale in 1997, and since 1999 the distinctive building has been home to Davis and Son Tobacconists.)
Feb. 2, 1971: UNCW’s Hanover Hall, the old gym on the back of Trask Coliseum, had some good concerts back in the day. The Association, known for its “sunshine pop,” was playing there Feb. 4. Tickets were $5. The band had a string of hits, including "Windy," "Cherish," "Never My Love" and "Along Comes Mary."
Feb. 3, 1971: New Hanover Schools Superintendent Dr. Heyward Bellamy spoke to some 100 students and adults -- including the Rev. Benjamin Chavis -- at a meeting sponsored by the Wilmington Ministerial Association and held at Gregory Congregational Church on Nun Street near Sixth Street. Bellamy said the school system needed the full support of the community to work through troubles linked to poor race relations. Bellamy said there were clear levels of authority for redress of grievances and that decisions could be appealed to higher levels if needed, including the courts.
(Heyward Bellamy was one of the most important figures in the desegregation of New Hanover County’s schools. A 1943 graduate of New Hanover High School, he returned in 1951 to teach science there and eventually joined the central-office staff. He was superintendent from 1968 to 1981. Dr. Bellamy died in 2014 at the age of 90. Full disclosure: Current StarNews education reporter Cammie Bellamy is his granddaughter.)
Contact Back Then columnist Scott.Nunn@StarNewsOnline.com