Our Roots Run Deep: Black History in Carrboro

Black History Month
  1. braxton foushee
  2. stanley vickers
  3. LIBBA COTTEN
Braxton Foushee 2019

Braxton Foushee has helped lay the foundation when it comes to equality here in Orange County -- it all

began in 1960 when he sat down at Colonial Drug Store (then both a store and lunch counter) and

requested to be served. Though Orange County has always been progressive for the South, this was a

time when African Americans were not expected – or allowed – to dine in.

Foushee began serving his community and helped many local black people become registered voters.

Once elected as the first African American Alderman in Carrboro in a 6-1 victory, Foushee got right to

work! His passion for his community helped save Carr Mill Mall when it threatened to close, and he

played a vital role in getting Hank Anderson Park built. According to an interview in the Carrboro Citizen,

Foushee says his proudest moment was “bringing bus lines to Carrboro” at a time when many of the

roads in black communities still didn’t have paved roads. Foushee worked to get repairs made to these

roads, as well as having them paved.

Foushee’s community service includes being a lifelong member of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP,

serving on the OWASA Board of Directors from 1986-88, and a volunteer for the National Kidney

Foundation for North Carolina, Georgia, and Alabama for over 30 years. He has been instrumental in the

redevelopment of the Rogers Road neighborhood by advocating to bring water and sewer services to

that community. Foushee continues his community service even today and currently serves on

Carrboro’s Truth Plaque Task Force – a plaque that memorializes the town’s varied history, including its

founder Julian Carr and civil rights efforts in the town. His wife Barbara continues the family’s legacy of public

service, as a current member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen.

This Black History Month the town of Carrboro would like to recognize Braxton Foushee for his courage,

sacrifices, and his continued effort to make Carrboro a more equitable place for all.

  1. Bob Drakeford
  2. Hilliard Caldwell
  3. The Garners
Robert Drakeford

Robert “Bob” Drakeford made history as Carrboro’s first and only African-American mayor,

elected in 1977. Long-time residents remember him as the young activist mayor who was

elected as part of the progressive Carrboro Coalition in the 1970s. Current Carrboro Mayor

Lydia Lavelle was so intrigued by hearing about Drakeford’s tenure as mayor that she met him

in Scotland County (where he now lives) in 2017 while he was interviewed for an oral history

project. Mayor Lavelle said, “I so enjoyed hearing Mayor Drakeford talk about the Carrboro of

the 70s - in particular his efforts to get the transit system extended to Carrboro, and his work in

Washington, D.C. with other progressive southern African-American mayors during the Carter

administration.”

Drakeford’s accomplishments are still impacting the town today. Mayor Pro-Tem Damon Seils

told The Daily Tar Heel in 2017, “He had a pretty progressive reputation at a time before

Carrboro had really taken on that reputation, and he was sort of our first bicycling mayor and

made a lot of advances for cycling infrastructure in the town.” Drakeford also hired the first

professional planner for the town, also an African-American, setting high standards that

eventually helped make Carrboro accessible to pedestrians and cyclists.

This Black History Month, the Town of Carrboro would like to recognize Robert “Bob” Drakeford

for his service to the community, for his courage and dedication, and for laying the foundation

for an inclusive community.