LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

  1. Credits & acknowledgments
  2. Introduction
  3. About this "digital textbook"
  1. 1 The Cold War begins
    1. 1.1
      The Cold War: An overview
      A brief history of the Cold War between the United States and Soviet Union, 1945–1991.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1945–1991
    2. 1.2
      The origins of the Cold War
      History of the early years of the Cold War (1945–1948), including the Berlin Airlift and the development of the Truman Doctrine.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1945–1948
    3. 1.3
      The Korean War
      The Korean War (1948–1953), the first military conflict of the Cold War, pitted the U.S. and its allies against the Soviet Union and other communist nations.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1948–1953
    4. 1.4
      Living with the bomb
      After the Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb in 1948, the U.S. Government produced civil defense films explaining the true nature of atomic bombs and demonstrating techniques for surviving an atomic attack. This article includes two civil defense films, film of the first hydrogen bomb test, and a Life magazine article about a honeymoon in a bomb shelter.
      • Format: exhibit
      • Relevant dates: 1948–1964
    5. 1.5
      The Cold War in the 1950s
      An overview of the Cold War during the presidency of Dwight Eisenhower, including the rise of McCarthyism.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1953–1960
    6. 1.6
      Sputnik and Explorer
      On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile and inserted a beach ball-sized satellite into earth orbit. This article tells the story of the launch and of reactions in the United States.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1957–1958
    7. 1.7
      John F. Kennedy
      An overview of the presidency of John F. Kennedy, 1961–63, including his management of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1960–1963
    8. 1.8
      Bombs over Goldsboro
      On January 24, 1961, a B-52 jet carrying two nuclear bombs crashed near Goldsboro, North Carolina. When one of the bombs was found, its arming mechanism had accidentally gone through all but one of the seven steps toward detonation, and a piece of the bomb containing uranium was never recovered.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1961
    9. 1.9
      The space race
      An overview and timeline of the U.S. space program from the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 through the 1969–72 moon landings. Includes links to NASA's websites about each mission.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1958–1972
  2. 2 Postwar life
    1. 2.1
      The GI Bill
      The GI Bill, which helped veterans of World War II attend college, vastly expanded the nation's educated workforce and democratized universities.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1944–1956
    2. 2.2
      The Interstate Highway System
      Planning for an improved national system of highways had begun during the Depression, but it was not until 1956 that President Eisenhower called for a "modern, interstate highway system."
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1940–1960
    3. 2.3
      Interstate highways from the ground up
      NCDOT resident engineer Stan Hyatt lived in Madison County most of his life, and he loved hunting and exploring the mountain when he was younger. He helped design and build I-26, a project that meant the destruction of some of the environment where he grew up. He talks about the costs and benefits of highway construction in this interview.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1994–2003
    4. 2.4
      Changes in agriculture
      A series of maps based on U.S. Census of Agriculture data show changes in North Carolina's agriculture over time.
      • Format: slideshow
      • Relevant dates: 180–2010
    5. 2.5
      Growing tobacco
      This short documentary shows the process of harvesting, curing, and selling tobacco, from farm to auction. It was filmed at Duke Homestead State Historic Site in Durham, North Carolina, during the 2009 Tobacco Harvest Festival.
      • Format: documentary
      • Relevant dates: 1865–1980
    6. 2.6
      The influence of radio
      This article from Carolina Music Ways discusses the rise of three radio stations in the North Carolina Piedmont between 1930 and 1960.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1930–1960
    7. 2.7
      The Grandfather Mountain Highland Games
      The first annual Highland Games were held at Grandfather Mountain in 1956, with performances of Scottish songs and dances and to watch athletic events including foot races, wrestling, and the traditional caber toss. The Highland Games have since become the largest event of its kind in the country.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1956
    8. 2.8
      The Andy Griffith Show
      The Andy Griffith Show, which premiered in 1960, was initially disparaged by reviewers but became one of the most popular American television shows of all time.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1960–1968
    9. 2.9
      Selling North Carolina, one image at a time
      By selling tourists the image of a state ready to entertain, enthrall, and serve, North Carolina public and private tourism promoters like Hugh Morton established the industry as one the state’s most important.
      • Format: essay
      • Relevant dates: 1937–2008
    10. 2.10
      More than tourism: Cherokee, North Carolina, in the post-war years
      In the 1950s, photographer Hugh Morton trained his camera on Cherokee, North Carolina, documenting the substantial tourism boom that had developed on the Eastern Band of Cherokees’ Qualla Boundary reservation. These photos provide a vivid record of an important moment in the history of both the Eastern Band and the mountain region as a whole.
      • Format: essay
      • Relevant dates: 1950–1959
    11. 2.11
      The Singing on the Mountain
      "The Singing on the Mountain" gospel convention has been held at the base of Grandfather Mountain on the fourth Sunday in June every year since 1925.
      • Format: essay
      • Relevant dates: 1925–2010
    12. 2.12
      Scottish heritage at Linville
      A Scottish heritage revival took place in North Carolina in the 1950s, with Linville as its epicenter.
      • Format: essay
      • Relevant dates: 1956–2010
  3. 3 The struggle for civil rights, 1946–1959
    1. 3.1
      Origins of the Civil Rights Movement
      An overview of the Civil Rights Movement from the end of World War II through the Civil Rights Act of 1957, including school desegregation and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1945–1960
    2. 3.2
      Freedom Ride
      In 1946, the Supreme Court ruled that racial segregation of passengers on interstate buses was an "undue burden on interstate commerce"and could not be enforced. The following year, sixteen people set off on a tour of southern cities to test the laws. Despite the Supreme Court's ruling, four riders were arrested in Chapel Hill.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1946–1947
    3. 3.3
      The Piedmont Leaf Tobacco Plant Strike, 1946
      In the 1940s, a national labor union launched a wide-ranging attempt to unionize workers in the South. This movement was known as Operation Dixie, and some of its key battles were fought in Forsyth County.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1946
    4. 3.4
      Desegregating the armed forces
      Although African Americans had served in the U.S. military since the American Revolution, until after World War II, they did not receive the same treatment and opportunies as white soldiers and sailors. In 1948, President Harry Truman ordered that the armed forces be desegregated.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1948
    5. 3.5
      A black officer in an integrated Army
      Interview with the black commander of white troops in an American battalion in occupied Germany after the U.S. military was desegregated. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1947–1950
    6. 3.6
      The 1950 Senate campaign
      Campaign poster from the 1950 U.S. Senate election in North Carolina, in which Willis Smith played to white voters' racism in defeating Frank Porter Graham. Includes historical background.
      • Format: poster
      • Relevant dates: 0
    7. 3.7
      The Montgomery Bus Boycott
      The story of the protest against the city bus system of Montgomery, Alabama, by civil rights activists in 1955–56, in which Rosa Parks was the most famous participant.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1955–1956
    8. 3.8
      The Lumbees face the Klan
      In January 1958, the Ku Klux Klan burned crosses on the front lawns of two Indian families in Robeson County, North Carolina. In response, as many as a thousand Lumbees violently broke up a Klan meeting, and the Klan never again met publicly in Robeson County.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1958
  4. 4 School desegregation
    1. 4.1
      Brown v. Board of Education and school desegregation
      The 1955 Supreme Court decision overturned the 1890 decision in Plessy v. Ferguson, ruling that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal" and forcing the integration of schools across the nation.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1950–1960
    2. 4.2
      Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas
      The text of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, that the segregation of public schools was in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
      • Format: court decision
      • Relevant dates: 1954
    3. 4.3
      Billy Graham and civil rights
      An exchange of letters between the Reverend Billy Graham and President Dwight Eisenhower, March 1956, on the Church's role in civil rights. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: letter
      • Relevant dates: 1956
    4. 4.4
      The Little Rock Nine
      When a federal court ordered the integration of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, Governor Orval Faubus defied the order. African American students were subjected to mob violence, and President Eisenhower put the state National Guard under federal command. Faubus closed the city's high schools rather than permit desegregation.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1957–1959
    5. 4.5
      Desegregation pioneers
      Interviews with African American women who participated in the process of school desegregation: two women who attended desegregated schools in North Carolina, and Daisy Bates, head of the Arkansas chapter of the NAACP in the 1950s. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1955–1970
    6. 4.6
      Youth protest: JoAnne Peerman
      Interview with an African American woman who attended an all-black elementary school but an integrated middle school and high school. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1970
    7. 4.7
      A teacher's protest: William Culp
      Interview with a former teacher at an all-black high school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1969–1970
    8. 4.8
      Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education
      The Supreme Court's ruling in Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education, April 20, 1971, which ordered the integration of Mecklenburg County's schools. Includes historical background.
      • Format: court decision
      • Relevant dates: 1970–1971
    9. 4.9
      The impact of busing in Charlotte
      Interviews with former white and black students in Charlotte schools about their experiences before and after desegregation. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1971–1999
    10. 4.10
      Opposition to busing
      A 1974 interview with Jesse Helms in which Helms denounced his critics who believed that his opposition to forced busing was racist. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1970–1974
    11. 4.11
      Perspectives on school desegregation: Fran Jackson
      Interview with a woman who attended all-black schools in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and the town's first integrated high school, about her experiences. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1960–1970
    12. 4.12
      Perspectives on school desegregation: Harriet Love
      Interview with a woman who attended an all-black high school in Charlotte in the 1960s but whose children attended integrated schools, about the unintended effects of school desegregation. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1955–1970
  5. 5 Achieving civil rights, 1960–1965
    1. 5.1
      The Civil Rights Movement, 1960–1980
      An overview of the Civil Rights Movement from the Greensboro Sit-ins in 1960 through the 1963 March on Washington, the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts of 1964–65, growing militance, and the development of affirmative action policies.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1960–1980
    2. 5.2
      Sit-ins
      On February 1, 1960, four African American students in Greensboro, North Carolina, took whites-only seats at a department store lunch counter. Their nonviolent protest launched a nationwide movement of "sit-ins" to fight Jim Crow laws.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1960
    3. 5.3
      The Greensboro sit-ins
      Contemporary newspaper coverage of the Greensboro sit-ins, February 1, 1960. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: newspaper
      • Relevant dates: 1960
    4. 5.4
      Wanted: Picketers
      Advertisement for picketers in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, 1960, to protest discrimination by local businesses. The flyer outlines reasons for picketing and rules for nonviolent protest. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: advertisement
      • Relevant dates: 1960
    5. 5.5
      The Freedom Riders
      The Supreme Court ruled in 1960 that all buses and facilities associated with interstate travel must be desegregated. But blacks who used whites-only waiting rooms and refused to give up their seats to whites faced mob violence. Their refusal either to stop or to fight back showed Americans -- many for the first time -- the hard reality of racial oppression.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1961
    6. 5.6
      Desegregating public accommodations in Durham
      After the Freedom Rides of 1961 led to integration of interstate buses and terminals, the Civil Rights Movement moved on to "Freedom Highways" in 1962 -- campaigning to end segregation at establishments that served the traveling public. The Howard Johnson's restaurant on Chapel Hill Boulevard became a focal point in Durham.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1961–1963
    7. 5.7
      Desegregating hospitals
      Interiew with a black dentist who joined a 1963 lawsuit against the Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in Greensboro for refusing to accept African American patients or to hire African American doctors. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1963
    8. 5.8
      The March on Washington, 1963
      Video from the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom includes Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1963
    9. 5.9
      The Civil Rights Act of 1964
      The Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibited acts of private discrimination in public places and gave the federal government far broader authority than it had ever previously taken.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1964
    10. 5.10
      The struggle for voting rights
      Beginning in 1961, civil rights activists launched voter registration campaigns in the deep South, culminating in the Mississippi "Freedom Summer" in 1964. More than a thousand white college students from the North helped, and the violent response drew the nation's attention to the disfranchisement of African Americans.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1964
    11. 5.11
      The Selma-to-Montgomery March
      The Selma-to-Montgomery March for voting rights ended three weeks -- and three events -- that represented the political and emotional peak of the modern civil rights movement.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1965
    12. 5.12
      The Voting Rights Act of 1965
      Five months after the Selma-to-Montgmery March, the Congress passed and President Johnson signed into law the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This law gave the federal government the power to enforce the Fifteenth Amendment, which guaranteed equal voting rights regardless of race.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1965
  6. 6 Protest, change, and backlash: The 1960s
    1. 6.1
      Lyndon Johnson and the Great Society
      An overview of President Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" programs, which addressed poverty, transportation safety, urban development, and health.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1963–1969
    2. 6.2
      The North Carolina Fund
      During the 1960s, the North Carolina Fund was created to wage an "all-out assault on poverty" in the state.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1963–1968
    3. 6.3
      Fighting poverty
      Excerpt of an oral history interview with Billy E. Barnes, a photographer known for his documentary work on racial and economic justice issues in the 1950s and 1960s. Barnes served as Director of Public Information for the North Carolina Fund from January 1964 through January 1969.
      • Format: interview (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 0
    4. 6.4
      The Speaker Ban controversy
      Resolution by the student legislature at UNC-Chapel Hill, 1966, against tbe state ban on campus speakers with ties to communisim. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: legislation
      • Relevant dates: 1966
    5. 6.5
      Jesse Helms and the Speaker Ban
      Editorial by Jesse Helms delivered on WRAL-TV news in 1968, criticizing UNC administration for allowing civil rights leader Stokely Carmichael to speak on the Chapel Hill campus and defending the 1963 Speaker Ban law, which had been ruled unconstitutional. Includes historical background and commentary.
      • Format: broadcast
      • Relevant dates: 1968
    6. 6.6
      The women's movement
      A brief history of the women's movement of the 1960s and 1970s, including equal opportunity, reproductive issues, and the Equal Rights Amendment.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1960–1978
    7. 6.7
      Segregated employment ads
      Employment ads from a Raleigh newspaper, 1968, segregated by sex. Historical commentary addresses the kinds of jobs available for men and for women.
      • Format: advertisement
      • Relevant dates: 1968
    8. 6.8
      Gay life
      Interview with a gay man about his experiences living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, in the 1950s. Includes historical commentary.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1950–1965
    9. 6.9
      The aftermath of Martin Luther King's assassination
      Reactions in Durham ranged from violent to peaceful after civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., was murdered in Memphis on April 4, 1968.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1968
    10. 6.10
      Howard Lee
      Howard Lee's political career began with his election as mayor of Chapel Hill in 1969. He was the first African American mayor elected in a predominantly white southern town since Reconstruction.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1969
  7. 7 The Vietnam War
    1. 7.1
      The Vietnam War
      An overview of the era of the Vietnam War in the United States.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1954–1975
    2. 7.2
      The Vietnam War: A timeline
      A timeline of major events, including French colonization, the First Indochina War (1946–54), the buildup of U.S. military forces, the U.S. war in Vietnam, the war's aftermath, and the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam.
      • Format: timeline
      • Relevant dates: 1858–1997
    3. 7.3
      Something he couldn't write about: Telling my Daddy's story of Vietnam
      A personal history of growing up the daughter of a Vietnam veteran and of coming to terms with the war and its legacy.
      • Format: essay
      • Relevant dates: 1967–2000
    4. 7.4
      A soldier's experience in Vietnam: Herbert Rhodes
      Oral history interview with a North Carolina veteran of the Vietnam War. Rhodes describes his interactions with South Vietnamese civilians, and what he believes was the purpose behind the war.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1968–1970
    5. 7.5
      A soldier's experience in Vietnam: Tex Howard
      Oral history interview with a North Carolina veteran of the Vietnam War. Howard discusses the injury he received while fighting in Vietnam.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1964–1969
    6. 7.6
      A soldier's experience in Vietnam: John Luckey
      Oral history interview with a North Carolina veteran of the Vietnam War. Luckey discusses the relationship between white and black soldiers in Vietnam and his struggle to readjust to civilian life after the war.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1969–1970
    7. 7.7
      A soldier's experience in Vietnam: Robert L. Jones
      Oral history interview with a North Carolina veteran of the Vietnam War. Jones discusses how his time in Vietnam left him with self-doubt and confusion about who he was as a person.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1968–1970
    8. 7.8
      A soldier's experience in Vietnam: Johnas Freeman
      Oral history interview with a North Carolina veteran of the Vietnam War. Freeman explains that, despite the difficulties he faced readjusting to everyday life after Vietnam, he did not have any regrets about his decision to serve in the military.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1964–1970
    9. 7.9
      Anti-war demonstrations
      Although the anti-war protests of the 1960s and 1970s are remembered today mainly as something young people participated in, people aged 18 to 29 actually were more likely to support the war than their elders, and college campuses were deeply divided on the issue. Protests in cities drew people of all ages and backgrounds. This page includes video of a 1967 march on the Pentagon.
      • Format:
      • Relevant dates: 1967
    10. 7.10
      Campus protests
      Press release by the UNC-Chapel Hill student government, May 9, 1970, explaining students' strike to protest the expansion of the Vietnam War into Cambodia and the killing of protesters at Kent State University in Ohio. Includes historical background.
      • Format: document
      • Relevant dates: 1970
  8. 8 The limits of change: The 1970s
    1. 8.1
      National politics, 1968–74
      An overview of national politics and issues during the presidency of Richard Nixon.
      • Format: book (excerpt)
      • Relevant dates: 1968–1974
    2. 8.2
      The Wilmington Ten
      Racial tensions and protests in Wilmington, North Carolina, led to violence in early 1971. Ten people were convicted and imprisoned, but many considered them political prisoners, and the case brought national and international attention to North Carolina.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1971
    3. 8.3
      The 1971 constitution
      North Carolina's constitution was rewritten in 1971 to incorporate the many amendments made since Reconstruction.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1971–2009
    4. 8.4
      North Carolina's first presidential primary
      North Carolina held its first presidential primary election on May 6, 1972. Prior to 1972, delegates were chosen to represent the state at the national party nominating conventions, but the candidates were not subject to a popular vote in North Carolina until the general election.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1972
    5. 8.5
      The election of 1972
      The 1972 elections marked a turning point in North Carolina politics, as voters supported Republicans for president, governor, and U.S. Senate.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1972
    6. 8.6
      The Equal Rights Amendment
      Oral history interview with activist Martha McKay about the ERA's defeat in North Carolina. Includes historical background.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1972–1974
    7. 8.7
      Watergate
      History of the Watergate scandal that ended in President Richard Nixon's resignation from office.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1972–1974
    8. 8.8
      The Greensboro killings
      An anti-Ku Klux Klan rally in Greensboro, North Carolina, in November 1979, resulted in the deaths of five people at the hands of self-proclaimed Klansmen and Nazis. The accused men were never convicted.
      • Format: article
      • Relevant dates: 1979
  9. 9 A lifetime of change
    1. 9.1
      Early childhood
      First part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1919–1932
    2. 9.2
      Country memories
      Second part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1919–1936
    3. 9.3
      Education
      Third part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1919–1937
    4. 9.4
      Race relations
      Fourth part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1930–1940
    5. 9.5
      Pay raise
      Fifth part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1940–1960
    6. 9.6
      Politics
      Final part of an oral history interview with Rebecca Clark, an African American who was born in rural Orange County just before the Depression and witnessed the changes in civil rights over the years.
      • Format: interview
      • Relevant dates: 1969
  1. Glossary
  2. Index