Part I of “Legacies of Lincoln” shines a light on the Mighty Tigers football team from Chapel Hill-Carrboro’s segregated Lincoln High School, and its role during the first wave of the towns’ movement for civil rights in ’60 and ’61. Part II tells of the movement’s second wave in 1963 and ’64, and outlines the mismanaged integration that has led to one of the largest achievement gaps in the country between white students and students of color.

This series opens with a claim that the Lincoln students’ movement for civil rights rattled the towns’ status quo, reverberated through the state, and echoed out across the country.

It’s no far-reaching exaggeration. Many of the struggle’s protagonists lived lives worthy of novels, as they carried the lessons and leadership of the local movement out into the world.

Fred Battle was one.

Danita Mason-Hogans, daughter of Lincoln graduate Dave Mason Jr., knows his story well. She calls Fred Battle one of her dearest mentors. 

Like Fred Baldwin—the Mighty Tigers quarterback featured in Parts I and II—Battle received a college football scholarship thanks to his success at Lincoln. He went on to play at N.C. A&T after graduation. 

“He used some of that strategy that he learned in Chapel Hill and brought it to A&T, which was also a huge activist community,” Mason-Hogans says of how Battle maintained the symbiotic connection between activism and football.

“We have people like [Lincoln graduates] Betty Baldwin and Juanita Alston, who also went to A&T, and they talk about how as they were marching, the football players would flank them,” Mason-Hogans continues. “They would get in a formation, and it was the role of football players to make sure that the people inside the formation were protected. And that’s nothing but a football move!”

By Battle’s side, on the field and in the streets, was his A&T football teammate, Jesse, now the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr.

Like Fred Battle, Mighty Tigers quarterback and Chapel Hill Nine leader Harold Foster continued movement work long after Lincoln. He became the first ever editor-in-chief of the newspaper at North Carolina College—now N.C. Central University—who wasn’t a senior. He then moved to New York City to work with Stokely Carmichael, who would become the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Because of his activism, Foster had been invited to SNCC’s founding in 1960, while still a senior at Lincoln.

Later, Foster refused the draft for the Vietnam War and was sentenced to prison for two years. Mason-Hogans’ father, Dave Mason Jr., says that even behind bars Foster was active, teaching some of the prisoners how to read.

Others who led the movement that arose from Lincoln continue to influence Chapel Hill-Carrboro to this day.

Until recently, Braxton Foushee volunteered at Culbreth Middle School, helping Burmese and Karen students learn English as a second language. Sitting with me at Weaver Street Market in Carrboro, Foushee makes an important connection between Lincoln students and today’s young people.

“I was always encouraging and telling those kids, ‘I know you’re in a strange country, but there are people out here that would lead you in the right way,’” he says. “‘If there’s somebody bothering you, you let me know. Because I don’t want you to go through the same thing that we had to go through.’”

Women in the movement

This has been a football story, offering a specific lens through which to view the history of Lincoln High, but young Lincoln women played roles that rivalled those of the young men.

Fred Baldwin’s sister, Betty Baldwin Geer, is one.

A star on the Lincoln High girls’ basketball team, Betty surpassed Fred in her leadership in the students’ fight for civil rights. Like Battle and Foster, she carried this leadership with her.

At N.C. A&T Betty was more than once arrested with Fred Battle and Jesse Jackson during the desegregation movement in Greensboro in the early 1960s. During one action in the summer, so many hundreds of students were arrested that the police took them to farmhouses in the country to detain them. Betty led a chorus of young women singing “We Shall Overcome” in steadfast defiance, as others around them fainted from the heat.

Deloris Bynum, another Lincoln graduate, married her high school sweetheart, a Mighty Tigers football player. After graduation she worked at Lenoir Dining Hall on UNC’s campus, and took part in the cafeteria workers’ strike in 1969 that won a higher minimum wage for state employees all across North Carolina.

The legacy of these women stays with Danita Mason-Hogans.

“I really believe in intergenerational organizing,” she tells me. “There are so many things we can learn from people who came before us. Not just stories of grandeur but strategic efforts; there’s a lot that elders can impart to young people.”

While elders have wisdom from their experience, Mason-Hogans says, they too need to recognize when to pass the torch.

“My admonition would be that older people need to get out of young people’s way,” she explains. “Young people have always represented the very best of change, and I think that older people have a tendency to hold on to power and stifle them. Because young people are always at the center of change, but they’re very rarely at the center of power.”

She recognizes this changemaking in the Black and Brown Student Coalition (BBSC), a group that students at Carrboro High School founded last summer, and how that effort connects to the Lincoln students’ work. 

“The BBSC is a really good example of young people who are willing to outwardly question what’s going on, and question the system, and so in that way they are very much connected to Lincoln High School,” Mason-Hogans says. 

The Black and Brown Student Coalition

In late July, I stopped by Al’s Burger Shack in Chapel Hill’s Southern Village. A young man named Phoenix Garayùa-Tudryn came around from his station on the kitchen line. We talk outside on his break.

When Garayùa-Tudryn was a kid, his father, who is Puerto Rican, moved the family from Florida to Carrboro to become the first football coach for the new Carrboro High School Jaguars. Garayùa-Tudryn has been around the Jaguars most of his life, and in high school, he became one of them. He played quarterback, wide-receiver, and linebacker until he graduated earlier this year.

Last summer, Garayùa-Tudryn was a founding member of the BBSC. For him, the necessity of an organization led by students of color was overdue. Not only do students of color at Carrboro High face some of the worst achievement gaps in the country when compared with their white peers, but many also felt that their voices weren’t heard.

“There was always that lack of student voice, especially Black and Brown student voice,” he tells me. “It was usually dominated by our white, richer population. We felt like there was a need for a group that could facilitate conversations between students, and that could actually make change in our community and in our schools.”

The decision for it to be a Black and Brown coalition was important to Garayùa-Tudryn.

“A lot of times in our community, and really in a lot of communities, discrimination and oppression separate our groups, try to put each group against each other,” he says. “We wanted to make sure it was a unified front instead of separating people because everything that we were trying to do is bring people together, even our white students.”

One of the BBSC’s leaders this year, Sofia Rangel, a junior at Carrboro, agrees.

“Having the Black AND Brown Student Coalition is so important because it creates a sense of unity that we need to combat systems of oppression together,” she says in an email.

For Rangel, whether or not to join the BBSC was never a question.

“Growing up I have always been surrounded by activism of some kind,” she explains. “My mom was an ESL teacher who was really active in advocating for DACA [Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals] students. My dad is an immigrant and so I was always aware of the obstacles that came with that identity. Because of this I knew that I wanted to advocate for marginalized voices, including my own, and BBSC was just that.”

Leading beside Rangel this year is a senior named Walker Robinson. Like Garayùa-Tudryn—and like Fred Baldwin, Fred Battle, Harold Foster, Braxton Foushee, and many others—Robinson also leads the football team that lines up on a gridiron in Carrboro.

The day after I met with Garayùa-Tudryn, I went back to Southern Village. Robinson just finished a dishwashing shift at Town Hall Grill, on the other side of the Southern Village Green. We sit down outside.

Robinson says he remembered that when Garayùa-Tudryn approached him about the BBSC, he knew he wanted to join.

As he alludes to the discrepancies at Carrboro High, Robinson also points to how history is taught in our schools, and how that teaching can be a detriment to social justice.

“Everything that I knew about the civil rights movement I learned from my parents,” he says. “I didn’t learn anything about what really happened during those times from school, until this past year when I took a class that I really had to go out of my way to take.”

But the BBSC is changing that. Robinson says the group is working to add both a Black and Latinx history class to the high school’s curricula. And the BBSC has already made an impact in another realm. 

More than 60 years after Fred Baldwin and Jimmy Weaver snuck under a tin fence to watch football games for which they couldn’t afford admission, ticket prices are still an issue for students and community members of color in Carrboro.

The BBSC tackled that head on.

“One of the things we talked about last year was making games free for all students, taking that cost out,” Garayùa-Tudryn explains. “And we were actually able to do that. Usually they’d make students pay and that made no sense to us because it added an economic barrier. So it’s gonna be all free next year for Carrboro students.”

Carrboro High School’s Football Team. Photo courtesy of Phoenix Garayùa-Tudryn.


As he looks to the future, Garayùa-Tudryn, now a student at UNC-Chapel Hill, has a sober perspective.

“I’m extremely privileged and honored to be in this town because there’s so much history with everybody that’s been an activist growing up, especially that Lincoln High football team just setting that example,” Garayùa-Tudryn says. “But I think we still have a long way to go, and there’s a lot that needs to be done, and there’s a lot that people need to process within themselves about what they’re supporting and what their support means.”

Despite the long road ahead, Garayùa-Tudryn is aware of the great steps the BBSC has taken, and how it will benefit those engaged in the future.

“Our project spread around to the colleges. UNC was using the [BBSC] podcast in their School of Education. And I think Duke was doing the same,” he says. “So I feel like just that community that we built and that structure, that foundation, is gonna make it really easy to help out in the future.”

Like Mason-Hogans, even Garayùa-Tudryn, at age 18, understands that when it comes to the BBSC and student-led movements, he needs to step back. As with Mighty Tigers of old, passing the baton from one generation to the next, Garayùa-Tudryn will continue to support his former football team as well as the social-justice movement to which he contributed a great deal. But just as he can no longer take the field in a Jaguars jersey, his involvement in the BBSC won’t be from a leadership position anymore.

“I kind of also don’t want to be too involved, because it’s theirs now,” he says. “They have different goals; they have different experiences. So you gotta value that and just let them move forward.”

And move forward they will. Mightily. 

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