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Black Business Activism in the Mid-Twentieth Century South

May 18, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

Black Business Activism in the Mid-Twentieth Century South
Tuesday, May 18, 2021 | 6:00 PM | Zoom

This program will discuss John Hervey Wheeler’s leadership as a bank president and civil rights lawyer in the mid-twentieth-century South. It will especially highlight his activism and interest in fulfilling the ideals of New South prosperity through an emphasis on black economic power and full citizenship.

Speaker Bio

Brandon Winford is a historian of the late nineteenth and twentieth century United States and the African American experience, and his research focuses on the relationship between civil rights and black capitalism. He is currently an associate professor of history at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

His book, John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights (University Press of Kentucky, 2019), focuses on one of the nation’s savviest behind-the-scenes black power brokers in the twentieth century. John Hervey Wheeler (1908–1978) spent most of his adult life in Durham, North Carolina, as a banker and a lawyer, but he was born on the campus of Kittrell College in Vance County, North Carolina. He came of age in Jim Crow Atlanta, Georgia, where his father served as an executive with the world-renowned North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company (NC Mutual). When John Hervey Wheeler himself rose to preside over the Mechanics and Farmers Bank (M&F Bank), located on Durham’s “Black Wall Street,” he articulated a bold vision of regional prosperity, grounded in full citizenship and economic power for black people. In so doing, Wheeler became the most influential black leader in the Tar Heel State between the 1950s and 1960s, and among the top civil rights figures in the South as a whole.

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This program is hosted by Northern Kentucky University’s Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, as part of the [email protected] Lecture Series. Proud season partners include the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center, Thomas More University, the Behringer-Crawford Museum’s Northern Kentucky History Hour, and the Northern Kentucky Forum.


May 18, 2021
6:00 pm - 7:30 pm