A new exhibit on the Carolina Times newspaper and its pioneering publisher opens at the Museum of Durham History on Friday.
Louis Austin and the Carolina Times “explores the life of newspaper publisher Louis Austin and how he used the Carolina Times as a catalyst in the African American effort for freedom– fighting for racial justice and black empowerment,” the museum says.
Austin bought the paper in 1927 and ran it until his death in 1971, giving the publication its motto: “The Truth Unbridled.” In addition to covering the day-to-day happenings of Durham’s black community, the paper documented, amplified and commented on the civil rights movement. Austin himself was an activist who, among other things, fought to desegregate the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and helped to start what is now the Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People. The weekly black-owned paper still publishes and many of its editions have been digitized.
The exhibit “uses the life of Louis Austin as a lens through which to view the African American struggle for freedom in Durham, reveals the important role played by the press.” It also covers other important moments and figures in the civil rights movement, like the de-segregation of Durham and North Carolina schools, the Royal Ice Cream Sit-in, and the murder of Private Booker T. Spicely, a black man who was shot and killed by a white bus driver.
An opening reception will be held at the museum Friday from six to eight p.m. with remarks by Jerry Gershenhorn, a history professor at North Carolina Central University who wrote a book about Austin. The free exhibit will be on view through the end of March.