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 at UNC Charlotte’s Annual Levine Lecture on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.
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 towards creating greater racial equality today. 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 reporter Gary Schwab, now Metro & Enterprise Editor at the newspaper. Schwab will join the discussion. When Jimmie Lee 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 that led to unprecedented racial violence in the Queen City.
Following publication of The Charlotte Observer story, De Kirkpatrick and Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick, classmates at Myers Park High School, reconnected almost 50 years after their graduation. In a catch-up phone call, the men learned that De’s great-great-grandfather, Hugh Kirkpatrick, owned Jimmie Lee’s great-great-great-grandfather, a slave named Sam. Together, they began examining their families and the history of Mecklenburg County, where 1 in 3 people were slaves in 1860.
The Levine Lecture will be held at the Levine Museum of the New South (200 E. Seventh St. Charlotte 28202), and the program will begin at 6:00 p.m. The event is open to the public, but RSVPs are requested. Please register online here.
This year’s Levine Lecture event is sponsored by UNC Charlotte’s Center for the Study of the New South and its American Studies Program in partnership with the Levine Museum of the New South. It is supported in part by a grant from the Chancellor’s Diversity Challenge Fund.