Opening its doors to students in 1795, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill upholds the distinction of being one of the oldest public universities in the country and the first public university to award degrees during the eighteenth century. Currently, UNC is ranked among several national publications that list the university as a preeminent leader in academic quality, affordability, and diversity. As of 2012, UNC- Chapel Hill, the flagship university of the state’s public college system, has a student body of 29,137. They are taught by 3,221 faculty.
The Durham Bulls, North Carolina’s premier minor league baseball team, played their first game in 1902 as the Durham Tobacconists. Durham attorney William Bramham helped organize the team and popularize minor league baseball in North Carolina. The Durham Bulls is named after the Bull Durham tobacco-advertising icon, and as of 2012, the Bulls are the Class-AAA affiliate team of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
In Simkins v. Cone (1963), the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals decided that two Greensboro hospitals had discriminated against African American doctors and patients. Before the case, most North Carolina hospitals were segregated, and those designated solely for black patients offered only sub-optimal healthcare. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the case, and Simkins became the first time a federal court applied the Fourteenth Amendment to private racial discrimination.
Born on June 1, 1926 in Mount Airy, Andy Griffith studied at UNC-Chapel Hill where he majored in music. Griffith worked as a teacher for several years before starting his career as an actor, starring in the play No Time for Sergeants, a Broadway show that opened in 1955. Five years later, Griffith starred in his most famous role as Sheriff Andy Griffith in The Andy Griffith Show. Griffith starred in several other television movies and shows, including Matlock before his retirement to Dare County. The actor died on July 3, 2012 from heart complications.
Operated by the Jefferson-Pilot Corporation in the Charlotte area, WBTV was the first television station in the Carolinas. The station aired its first program on July 15, 1949, but the Greensboro-based WFMY-TV soon followed with its first broadcast in the months to come. WBTV was the first television station to videotape episodes, to mount and operate a live camera in a NASCAR race car, and the first to use closed captioning during evening news programs.
Born in Johnston County in 1922, Ava Lavinia Gardner became one of Hollywood’s most popular starlets in the 1940s and 1950s. She attended Rock Ridge High School and Atlantic Christian College (now Barton College), and in 1939 her big break in film occurred. While visiting her sister in New York a photographer took several pictures of Gardner who later sent them to the MGM talent office. MGM signed Gardner to a seven-year contract and her acting career began. Gardner appeared in several classic films including The Killers, One Touch of Venus, and the classic musical, Show Boat.
Originally created due to the increase of traffic on North Carolina roadways, the North Carolina Highway Patrol was commissioned on July 1, 1929. The first Highway Patrol class drove Harley-Davidson motorcycles and assisted stranded motorists, administered first aid in emergency situations, and pursued lawbreakers on the state’s highways. As of 2012, the State Highway Patrol employs over 2,300 officers, radio specialists, engineers, and civilian staff.
One of the premier college newspapers in the United States, the Daily Tar Heel started publication in 1893. UNC students originally paid 5 cents per issue for the weekly newspaper. The newspaper is now a free daily. Some of North Carolina’s most well-known writers and publishers edited the Daily Tar Heel. Notables include Thomas Wolfe, Frank Porter Graham, and Jonathan Daniels.
As the oldest courthouse in North Carolina, the historic Chowan County Courthouse was constructed in 1767 in Edenton. Joseph Hewes, Samuel Johnston, and other important North Carolina Patriots used the courthouse during the 1770s and 1780s. With the Cupola and Barker House, the Chowan County Courthouse remains an important historical structure and popular attraction in Edenton. Today, the courthouse is the oldest government building in use in the state.
Every June, the community of Spivey’s Corner hosts The National Hollerin’ Contest. Once used by farmers and rural neighbors to communicate across long distances, hollering fell away at the beginning of the twentieth century because of telephone use. The Hollerin’ Contest seeks to preserve the lost art alive, and nearly 3,000 tourists visit Sampson County to learn and celebrate it at the folk festival.