From A to Z

My N.C. from A to Z celebrates African American heritage in North Carolina. (Contributed photo)

The N.C. African American Heritage Commission and the Office of Archives and History this month released a new children’s book, My N.C. from A to Z, that celebrates and creates connections to the state’s rich African American heritage.

My N.C. from A to Z, written by Michelle Lanier and illustrated by Dare Coulter, is a colorful, sturdy board book parents will want to share with their children.

Studies show children who are read to at least three times a week by a family member are almost twice as likely to score in the top 25% in reading compared to children who are read to less than three times a week.

Each letter of the alphabet represents African American people and places rooted in North Carolina that have provided positive and indelible influences in arts, culture and social justice worldwide.

The book features people and topics such as:

B is for Black Wall Street: Black Wall Street is a term that describes historic Parrish Street, a four-block area in downtown Durham where African American enterprise thrived in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

C is for Charlotte Hawkins Brown: Dr. Charlotte Hawkins Brown, a pioneer in education and race relations, was born on a farm near Henderson. She established an elite boarding school, the Palmer Memorial Institute, in rural Sedalia that prioritized liberal education, leadership and civic engagement. The school expanded in size and achieved statewide and national recognition. Dr. Brown was a vocal, national advocate for women’s and civil rights.

F is for Freedom Hill: Freedom Hill (also sometimes known as Liberty Hill) is among the oldest towns in the United States chartered by free African Americans in 1865 and incorporated as Princeville in 1885. Princeville was named after Turner Prince, a carpenter and community leader who was born enslaved in North Carolina in 1843 and was one of Freedom Hill’s earliest residents.

L is for Longleaf Pine: Free, enslaved and freedom-seeking African Americans harvested raw turpentine from North Carolina’s long leaf pine forests by cutting deep “V” shapes into tree trunks that are sometimes still visible today. The processed turpentine, tar and pitch created from these harvests made the state the largest producer of naval stores in the U.S. in the mid-19th century.

T is for Thomas Day: Thomas Day was a respected craftsman, furniture maker, entrepreneur and free African American from Milton from 1801-61. Today, his furniture is highly regarded and collected.

To learn more about the book, visit aahc.nc.gov/resources/my-nc-z. The book may be ordered from UNC Press at uncpress.org/book/9780865264991/my-n-c-from-a-z/.

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