Charles N. Hunter, one of North Carolina's outstanding black
reformers, was born a slave in Raleigh around 1851, and he lived
there until his death in 1931. As public school teacher,
journalist, and historian, Hunter devoted his long life to
improving opportunities for blacks.
A political activist, but never a radical, he skillfully used his
journalistic abilities and his personal contacts with whites to
publicize the problems and progress of his race. He urged blacks to
ally themselves with the best of the white leaders, and he
constantly reminded whites that their treatment of his race ran
counter to their professed religious beliefs and the basic tenets
of the American liberal tradition. By carefully balancing his
efforts, Hunter helped to establish a spirit of passive protest
against racial injustice.
John Haley's compelling book, largely based on Hunter's voluminous
papers, affords a unique opportunity to view race relations in
North Carolina through the eyes of a black man. It also provides
the first continuous survey of the black experience in the state
from the end of the Civil War to the Great Depression, an account
that critiques the belief that race relations were better in North
Carolina than in other southern states.