‘Mecklenburg County - A Story of Race, Truth and Healing’
On Wednesday, Oct. 13, at 7 p.m. in Guerry Auditorium, the public is invited to view a trailer for a documentary film about two people who together tell a remarkable story of their intertwined lives and shared legacies of slavery and racial injustice in American life. The men who are the subject of this documentary, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and H. D. Kirkpatrick, will talk about their shared histories and take questions afterward.
Jimmie Lee, the star running back at an all-Black high school in deeply segregated Charlotte, North Carolina, transferred to an all-white high school in that city and, as the lone Black player on the team, led it to a championship season. That same year, H.D., a white student at the same high school who knew the football player only in passing, wrote about Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s courage and determination in an essay that won him admission to Harvard.
In 2013, newspaper accounts of Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s historic contributions to the civil rights struggle in Charlotte reunited the two men after nearly half a century. The meeting also led to their mutual discovery that their connections dated back much further than 1965. A century before that, H.D. Kirkpatrick’s ancestors had owned Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick’s enslaved ancestors. What had begun as a feel-good story about football stars and civil rights struggles and victories turned into a shared but, initially, unresolved and divisive story of the enduring legacies of slavery in contemporary American life.
Part of that difficult and still unfinished journey from the initial moment of discovery to an honest and painful reckoning and, now, friendship and racial healing, will be filmed here on campus during their visit.
Additional information about the Kirkpatricks can be found on the web: A very concise account with more details is available here. Their oral histories can be found here. If you possess a subscription to the Charlotte Observer, you can read their full story here.Sponsored by the Roberson Project on Slavery, Race, & Reconciliation and the Department of Athletics.