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Collection Number: 5519

Collection Title: Clarence E. Lightner Papers, 1967-2002

This collection has access restrictions. For details, please see the restrictions.


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Size 6.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1500 items)
Abstract The papers of Clarence E. Lightner, politician and civic leader of North Carolina and the first African American mayor of Raleigh, N.C., are chiefly related to his election as mayor in 1973 and the organizations with which he was affiliated during the 1990s, often as a member of the governing board. The collection contains correspondence especially letters of congratulations for winning his mayoral election, printed material principally related to organizations, newspaper clippings, and photographs of Lightner, his family, and events in which he participated. Notable correspondents include Maynard Jackson, the first African American mayor of Atlanta, Ga., United States Representative Louis Stokes on behalf of the Congressional Black Caucus, and Raleigh civic leader and broadcaster J.D. Lewis. Organizations represented in the collection include St. Augustine College, North Carolina Central University, Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc., North Carolina State University's African-American Community Advisory Council, North Carolina Legislative Black Caucus, and Wake County Opportunities, Inc. Only a few scattered items pertain to Lightner Funeral Home, the family business Lightner managed for several decades. Acquired as part of the Southern Historical Collection.
Creator Lightner, Clarence E.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
This collection is not available for immediate or same day access. Please contact Research and Instructional Service staff at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu to discuss options for consulting this collection.
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 Clarence E. Lightner Papers #5519, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

1921 Born 15 August 1921 in Raleigh, N.C., to Mammie Blackmon and Calvin E. Lightner, founder in 1911 of Lightner Funeral Home and candidate for Raleigh, N.C., city council in 1919.

1938-1941 Attended North Carolina Central College (now North Carolina Central University), graduating in 1941. In college, Lightner, a star athlete, played quarterback for the football team. He was also a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

1941-1942[?] Attended and graduated from Echols College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia, Pa. A licensed mortician and funeral director Lightner managed the family business for forty-five years.

1942-1945[?] Served in the United States Army for three years during the Second World War.

1946 Lightner married Marguerite Massey. The couple had four children.

1967 Elected to the Raleigh, N.C., City Council.

1967-1973 Served on Raleigh's City Council.

1973 Elected mayor of Raleigh, N.C., becoming the first African American to hold that office. He was a charter member of the Southern Conference of Black Mayors.

1973-1975 Served as mayor of Raleigh, N.C.

1977 Appointed by Gov. Jim Hunt to fill a seat on the North Carolina State Senate that was vacated by John B. Winters.

1985 Inducted into the Alex M. Rivera Athletics Hall of Fame at North Carolina Central University.

1993-2001 Served as chair of the Southeast Raleigh Improvement Commission.

2000 Served as a delegate to the Democratic National Convention from North Carolina.

2002 Died on 8 July 2002 in Raleigh, N.C.

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Processing Information

This summary description was created in October 2017 to provide information about unprocessed materials in Wilson Special Collections Library.

Encoded by: Laura Smith

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