Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, a retired educator and high school football standout, and H.D. “De” Kirkpatrick, author and forensic psychologist, will share their story about race, football and civil rights in 1960s Charlotte during ‘The Shared Story of Race in the South.’ This event, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 21, is this year’s annual UNC Charlotte Levine Lecture.
The men’s compelling, intertwined histories, discovered only after a series of award-winning articles were published in the Charlotte Observer, have ongoing relevance to Charlotte’s progress toward creating greater racial equality.
Presented by UNC Charlotte, the University’s Center for the Study of the New South, its American Studies program, and sponsored by a grant from the Chancellor's Diversity Challenge Fund, the Feb. 21 Levine Lecture, “The Shared Story of Race in the South: A Conversation with Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, De Kirkpatrick and Gary Schwab,” will be at the Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. Seventh St.) Doors open at 5:30 p.m. with the lecture at 6 p.m. A reception will follow. The event is free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required. Register here.
Two-hour complimentary parking is available after 5 p.m. in the 7th Street Station parking deck next door to the museum. Attendees should bring their parking ticket to the museum for validation.
The Charlotte Observer series about Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s experience as the first black football star at a predominantly white high school in Charlotte in the 1960s was written by Schwab, now metro and enterprise editor at the newspaper; he will join the discussion.
When Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick was denied a position on the 1965 Shrine Bowl team, he became a central figure in a civil rights lawsuit that drew national attention and led to unprecedented racial violence in the Queen City.
Following publication of the Observer story, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and H.D. “De” Kirkpatrick, classmates at Myers Park High School, reconnected almost 50 years after their graduation and learned that De Kirkpatrick’s great-great-grandfather, Hugh Kirkpatrick, owned Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s great-great-great-grandfather, a slave named Sam. Together, they began examining their families and Mecklenburg County where they grew up and where, in 1860, one in three people were slaves.
Schwab wrote the stories about Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s sports history in “Breaking Through” and, later, wrote about the friendship between the two Kirkpatricks in “A Blinding Truth.” The series earned high praise and accolades, including the 2014 Green Eyeshade Best of Southeast journalism and N.C. Press Association awards.
The Center for the Study of the New South in UNC Charlotte’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences promotes discourse and dialogue on a rich and diverse constellation of topics and ideas relating to the New South. Known as the period of regional history from the end of the Civil War to the modern era, the New South offers a bold tapestry of history, culture, social movements and political issues ripe for reflection and study.