Martinsville, Virginia


Historical Society Annual Meeting & Distinguished Lecture

By: John Phillips, President, Board of Directors Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society

May 8, 2024


The Martinsville-Henry County Historical Society will hold its Annual Meeting & Distinguished Lecture, “Campus to Counter: Civil Rights Activism,” on Sunday, May 19, 2023, at 3:00 P.M., at the Historic Henry County Courthouse, 1 East Main Street.

The Distinguished Lecture will be presented by Dr. Brian Suttell of Ferrum College. He is an Assistant Professor of History and Director of the Richard L. Smith Center for International Programs. He authored, “Campus to Counter: Civil Rights Activism in Raleigh and Durham, North Carolina, 1960-1963,” and was the featured historian on Hope’s City, a documentary film about the history of Pamplin City, Virginia. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the State University of New York at Fredonia, a master’s degree from North Carolina State University, and a doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

“Campus to Counter” analyzes civil rights activism in North Carolina in the early 1960s, especially among students at Shaw University, Saint Augustine's College, and North Carolina College at Durham. Their significance in challenging segregation has been underrepresented in scholarly works. These students played a crucial role in bringing the end of legal segregation and in reducing hiring discrimination. While activists proceeded from campus to lunch counters for sit-ins, their actions also represented a counter to businesspersons and politicians seeking to preserve a segregationist view of Tar Heel hospitality. Suttell utilized extensive archival research and conducted thirtyone interviews with activists and Raleigh and Durham community members, in addition to nationally recognized civil rights leaders like Andrew Young and Wyatt Tee Walker.

John Phillips, Historical Society President, stated, “We welcome a noted speaker of Brian Suttell’s caliber to discuss his important research that occurred just down the road. Join us to learn more about this significant time period in our regional history.”

Admission to the Annual Meeting is free, and the public is welcome, made possible by corporate sponsors, Carter Bank & Trust and The Lester Group. The Historic Henry County Courthouse is fully handicap accessible. The Heritage Center & Museum will be open following the event.