The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc., was founded in 2002 to recover, record, and promote the unique history of Edgecombe County (North Carolina) as experienced by members of its African American community. After participating in many events to affect that end, the group disbanded in 2010. This collection contains the society's official records and brochures and publications related to research and sponsored projects.
The Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc was founded in 2001, incorporated in 2004, and ceased operations in 2010. Its purpose was to recover, record, and promote the history of African Americans in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. Helen Gordon Quigless, Jr., was the president until illness required her to step down at which point C. Rudolph Knight become president in 2003.
C. Rudolph Knight, born 1947, graduated from North Carolina Central University in 1969 with a business degree; he would go on to earn Master of Science degrees in Education Administration, Library Science, and Adult Education from East Carolina University. He was the Director of Continuing Education at Edgecombe Community College for twenty-one years. In addition to his work as president as of the Phoenix Society he was the Historic Preservation Planner for the City of Rocky Mount, and wrote a column for The Daily Southerner. He passed away November 29, 2013.
This collection contains the Phoenix Society for African American Research, Inc., foundational documents, meeting minutes, and membership records. The Society was very prolific from 2002 to 2008 in sponsoring, creating, and promoting events in the Tarboro, North Carolina area. Within the collection are records pertaining to the creation of George Henry White Day, of which the Phoenix Society played a large role in establishing. George Henry White (1852-1918) was the last African American Congressman elected in a Southern state until the 1960's. Other projects undertaken by the Phoenix Society were programs on: Rosenwald Schools, the Knights of Labor in Edgecombe County, and preservation status of the Quigless Clinic. They also researched and created a guided tour of Tarboro, North Carolina, landmarks that highlighted the contributions of the African American community throughout the town's history. The Phoenix Society also celebrated contemporary achievements with its Nonagenarians of Edgecombe County program, which honored local African Americans and shared their stories with a broader audience. They also compiled two manuscripts on local history topics: African Americans in Edgecombe County From Slavery to Freedom to Jim Crow: A Chronology 1860-1901 and "It Wasn't Just Wages We Wanted, But Freedom": The 1946 Tobacco Leaf House Workers Organizing Campaign in Eastern North Carolina. A theater production of East Carolina University Professor Dr. Reginald Watson's work was sponsored by the Society and a copy of the play, Princeville: The Little Town that Rose like a Phoenix from the Swamp, is included within the collection.
In addition to the Phoenix Society Records, some of C. Rudolph Knight's personal papers are housed in the collection. Along with Mr. Knight's correspondence is limited research on unrealized topics for future Society programs. While only in operation for a relatively short time, the Phoenix Society was dedicated and diligent in promoting African American history in Edgecombe County and this collection houses the records of their prodigious efforts.
Gift of Dr. Lawrence W. S. Auld
Processing completed by Samantha Sheffield November 3, 2015
Literary rights to specific documents are retained by the authors or their descendants in accordance with U.S. copyright law.