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Sun, 10.12.1845

Julian Carr, Segregationist, and industrialist born

Julian Carr

*Julian Carr was born on this date in 1845. He was a white industrialist, pro-slavery advocate, philanthropist, segregationist, and Ku Klux Klan supporter.

Julian Shakespeare Carr was the son of Chapel Hill merchant and slaveowner John Wesley Carr and Eliza P. Carr (née Eliza Pannell Bullock). He entered the University of North Carolina (today, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) at 16 in 1862. His studies were interrupted in 1864 by the American Civil War. He served as a private in the Confederacy, serving with the Third North Carolina Cavalry. After the war, Carr became a partner in the tobacco manufacturing firm W. T. Blackwell and Co. in nearby Durham. His business acumen led to the firm's becoming known worldwide through its recognizable Bull Durham trademark.

He married Nannie Graham Parrish, daughter of Colonel D.C. Parrish, in 1873. They had four sons and two daughters. Their residence, Somerset Villa, was "an ornament to Durham." Carr became one of the state's wealthiest individuals, engaging in booming textile, banking (Durham's First National Bank), railroad, a public utility (Electric Lighting Company), and newspaper endeavors. In 1909, Carr purchased the Alberta Cotton Mill in what was then called West End, North Carolina, by Chapel Hill. In 1913, after agreeing to extend electricity to the town, Carrboro was named in honor of him. In the 1970s, the mill, abandoned for many years, was restored and opened as Carr Mill Mall.

Carr was nominated for Vice President of the United States by delegates at the 1900 Democratic National Convention, where he gave a speech. He served as a delegate himself to the 1912 convention. Carr also played an essential role in bolstering white supremacy in North Carolina during the era of Jim Crow. He publicly endorsed the Ku Klux Klan, argued that Blacks should not be allowed to vote, and promoted racial unrest and turmoil in the late 19th century to defeat an interracial "Fusion" political party. Carr promoted his racial views through the News & Observer newspaper, which he bought, setting up white supremacist Josephus Daniels as its Editor. In 1880 he was nominated for Lieutenant Governor. Carr spoke favorably of the murder of blacks during the Wilmington Massacre of 1898, which he called a "grand and glorious event," and celebrated lynching.

In numerous speeches, he suggested that Blacks were better off enslaved and celebrated violence, even lynching, against Black citizens. Carr was an unsuccessful candidate in the 1900 Democratic primary for senator, running on a platform of white supremacy. A long-time advocate for the welfare of Confederate veterans, the "high-private," as he liked to refer to himself, was Commander-in-Chief of North Carolina's United Confederate Veterans.

At the 1913 dedication of the Confederate Monument (later known as Silent Sam) on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Carr gave a speech wherein he credited the Confederate soldiers of having "saved the very life of the Anglo-Saxon race in the South," and as a consequence, "the purest strain of the Anglo Saxon is to be found in the 13 Southern States," after which he ended his speech by relating a personal anecdote when he was 19 years old of having soon after the war "horse-whipped a negro wench until her skirts hung in shreds" in Chapel Hill for having "publicly insulted and maligned a Southern lady," and having performed this "pleasing duty" in front of a garrison of 100 Federal soldiers after she sought protection at the university.

In 1923, UNC bestowed an honorary degree upon Julian Carr. This passage received great attention starting in 2011 after it was rediscovered in the University archives by a graduate student in history (Adam Domby) and published in the campus newspaper, the Daily Tar Heel. It contributed significantly to the discontent culminating in the statue's toppling on August 20, 2018. Carr was also instrumental in the founding of Duke University (where the historic building on East Campus was named after him from 1930 to 2018).

As Trinity College struggled to overcome postwar dependency on uncertain student tuition and church donations, interested Methodist laymen were crucial to its survival. Carr's name first appears in college records after signing a note to forestall foreclosure on a mortgage due in 1880. Carr was elected a trustee of Trinity College in 1883 and, for a decade, acted as benefactor and administrator of the struggling institution that was eventually renamed Duke University.

He engineered the selection of John F. Crowell as the institution's new president. Washington Duke won support to remove the school from its rural setting in Randolph County, North Carolina, to Durham. The move was made possible by Carr's gift of 62 acres of land for the site. He was noted in Volume VI of The History of Woman Suffrage for his encouragement of forming the Equal Suffrage League of North Carolina. Carr and others acted as an Advisory Committee and gave their time and money to help the League. He served as the representative of the Methodist Episcopal Church South to the United States Food Administration during World War I. He paid the entire cost of building Carr Hall at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, erected 1900 as a dormitory. The building was renamed in 2020.

Duke University's Carr Building is a different story. The school describes the building as 'A three-story Georgian style red Baltimore brick building, trimmed in Vermont marble, and with a Buckingham slate roof.'" Its original name, in 1927, was "Classroom Building." It was renamed "Carr Building" in 1930. In 2018 the original name of the Classroom Building was restored. A Durham School of the Arts building, originally Central Junior High School, was named for Carr. On August 24, 2017, in addition to prohibiting the Confederate flag, the Board of the Durham Public Schools voted unanimously to remove Carr's name from the building. The Durham chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy is the Julian S. Carr Chapter.

In 1945, the 100th anniversary of his birth, Governor R. Gregg Cherry proclaimed October 12, 1945, as Julian S. Carr Day in North Carolina. A portrait of him hangs in the house of the UNC System President.  Julian Carr died at his daughter's home in Chicago on April 29, 1924.

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