What is this mural about?
Birthed as a result of segregation and Jim Crow, the idea for the construction of a community center for African-Americans originated from concerns of the Negro Civic Club. Recognizing the disparaging differences between social and recreational facilities for whites and blacks, a Negro Community Center Association was formed for the purpose of securing a site and raising funds for construction and operation of a center for blacks. Land was purchased by the Association in 1938 and deeded to the Town of Chapel Hill in 1940 with the stipulation that it be used as a site for a black community center. Several key individuals who were instrumental in the early periods of construction of the center are depicted in the upper portion of the painting. They are:
The Edwards Family, Charles Edwards with wife Pearl and son Charles, who were the first family to live in the Center and provided activities for the community; the Barbee brothers, Alfred and Willis, community rock masons; Louis Graves, editor and owner of the Chapel Hill Weekly and key in fundraising for the center; Ms. Rebecca Clark, UNC housekeeper during time of construction of the center who pioneered efforts to improve working relationships with administration. She was also key in organizing the wives and women of the community to cook meals for the workers.
The bottom portion of the painting depicts the craftsmen in the community who volunteered many hours of labor to build the main center. Rock masons, carpenters, electricians and plumbers all joined in the effort to provide Chapel Hill’s black community with its first recreational and social center.
A History of the Hargraves Center
“Birthed from the collective labour of Chapel Hill’s hardworking black community, the center has grown from one, lone-standing brick building which served as a recreational outlet for Chapel Hill’s black youth, to a place where all community members can enjoy tennis, baseball, workshops, dance classes, and affordable, quality childcare.”—David Wilson, Artist
The Hargraves community center was constructed in 1941. The murals, a more recent addition, were completed in 2004 by Durham artist, David Wilson.
The Hargraves Center murals showcase a history of the Center’s community and political leaders, its central role in the Northside neighborhood, and its significance as the first social and recreational facility for African-Americans in Chapel Hill. They depict essential figures to Chapel Hill’s rich history; like Ms. Rebecca Clark, Mildred “Mama Dip” Council, Glenda Hargraves, Fred Battle and Nate Davis. Also included are community rock masons Willis and Alfred Barbee; Ms. Lucille Caldwell, the Center’s first paid director and the first black professional recreation administrator in NC; William Hargraves, former Parks and Recreation Commission member who spearheaded many of the wonderful programs available to the community today; Mr. Adolphus Clark and Ms. Cornelia Spencer Love, who made financial and organizational contributions to beautiful pool; and Ms. Sally Pendergraft, who dedicated herself to caring for the youth of the community through Holmes Day Care.
Want to see more of the murals? Check out the ones mounted at the adjoining AD Clark Pool, the Hargraves Daycare Center, or the Northside gymnasium!
A picture of this mural halfway through completion: