Collection Number: 05275-z

Collection Title: Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings, 1963-1966

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 10 items
Abstract The first African-American woman undergraduate to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karen L. Parker was born in Salisbury, N.C., and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C. Parker majored in journalism and after graduating in 1965, Parker began a career in newspapers that took her to the Grand Rapids Press, the Los Angeles Times, and to other newspapers before returning to the Winston-Salem Journal. The collection is Karen L. Parker's diary with entries 5 November 1963-11 August 1966. The entries appear regularly every few weeks in the beginning of the diary and gradually appear less often, ending with entries every several months. Parker began the diary while she was a student majoring in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. One of the first entries concerns the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, her observations of reactions in Chapel Hill to the assassination, and her own thoughts and feelings about it. Diary entries describe her experiences as the first African American woman undergraduate to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, her involvement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), her participation in civil rights demonstrations against segregation in Chapel Hill, and her arrest after entering a segregated Chapel Hill restaurant. An entry dated 30 April 1964 describes the visit of former segregationist governor of Mississippi Ross R. Barnett to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and his remarks about the inferiority of African Americans. The diary also includes entries detailing Parker's observations and experiences concerning race relations and discrimination in Grand Rapids, Mich., while copy editor for the Grand Rapids Press and her changing views of the civil rights movement as she considered the merits of self-defense as opposed to non-violent resistance. Entries throughout the diary describe her thoughts about where she belonged as an educated African-American female during the civil rights era. Additions consist of a letter from Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, Dean of Women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Karen L. Parker's mother, F.D. Parker, concerning Karen L. Parker's arrest on 19 December 1963, and newspaper clippings about Karen L. Parker's accomplishments as a journalism student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Creator Parker, Karen L.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the Karen L. Parker Diary, Letter, and Clippings #5275, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Karen L. Parker of Greensboro, N.C., in April 2006 (Acc. 100391), November 2007 (Acc. 100808), and April 2016 (Acc. 102558).
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

The first African-American woman undergraduate to attend the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Karen L. Parker was born in Salisbury, N.C., and grew up in Winston-Salem, N.C. Parker worked for the Winston-Salem Journal before attending UNC-Chapel Hill. She majored in journalism and was elected vice-president of the UNC Press Club and served as editor of the UNC Journalist, the School of Journalism's newspaper, in 1964. After graduating in 1965, Parker was a copy editor for the Grand Rapids Press in Grand Rapids, Mich. She has also worked for the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers before returning to the Winston-Salem Journal. Ellyn Bache used Parker's diary when conducting research for her 1997 novel The Activist's Daughter about student activists at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1963.

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The collection is the diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966, of journalist Karen L. Parker of Winston-Salem, N.C. The entries appear regularly every few weeks in the beginning of the diary and gradually appear less often, ending with entries every several months. Parker began the diary while she was a student majoring in journalism at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. One of the first entries concerns the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, her observations of reactions in Chapel Hill, N.C., to the assassination, and her own thoughts and feelings about it. Diary entries describe her experiences as the first African American woman undergraduate to attend UNC-Chapel Hill, her involvement with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), her participation in civil rights demonstrations against segregation in Chapel Hill, and her arrest after entering a segregated Chapel Hill restaurant. An entry dated 30 April 1964 describes the visit of former segregationist governor of Mississippi Ross R. Barnett to the UNC-Chapel Hill campus and his remarks about the inferiority of African Americans. The diary also includes entries detailing Parker's observations and experiences concerning race relations and discrimination in Grand Rapids, Mich., and her changing views of the civil rights movement as she considered the merits of self-defense as opposed to non-violent resistance. Entries throughout the diary describe her thoughts about where she belonged as an educated African-American female during the civil rights era.

The Addition of February 2008 consists of a letter from Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, Dean of Women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Karen L. Parker's mother, F.D. Parker, concerning Karen L. Parker's arrest on 19 December 1963. Also included are newspaper clippings about Karen L. Parker's accomplishments as a journalism student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

The Addition of April 2016 consists several clippings of newspaper stories written about Karen Parker while she was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966.

1 item.

Folder 1

Diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966 #05275-z, Series: "Diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966." Folder 1

Folder 2

Letter and Clippings #05275-z, Series: "Diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966." Folder 2

Acquisitions Information: Accession 100808 (Addition of February 2008)

Contains a letter from Katherine Kennedy Carmichael, Dean of Women at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, to Karen L. Parker's father, F.D. Parker, concerning Karen L. Parker's arrest on 19 December 1963. Also included are newspaper clippings about Karen L. Parker's accomplishments as a journalism student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Folder 3

Clippings, circa 1964-1966 #05275-z, Series: "Diary, 5 November 1963-11 August 1966." Folder 3

Acquisitions Information: Accession 102558 (Addition of April 2016)

Several clippings of newspaper stories written about Karen Parker while she was a student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Nathalie Wheaton, May 2006; Amy Roberson, February 2008; Meaghan Alston, February 2021.

Encoded by: Nathalie Wheaton, May 2006

Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

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