Bombing & Explosions in Craven County, North Carolina (Fear & Intimidation)

     I posted an article (below) of a bombing that occurred at a church in Vanceboro, NC.  My ancestors and family have resided in New Bern, NC which is 21 miles away from Vanceboro, but both cities are in the boundaries of Craven County.  
Seattle Daily Times
November 1, 1965
     A regular reader of my Blog raised the questions: What relevance does this have to your family research and What family of yours was left in New Bern in 1965?  They also felt I was putting out information that was negative and that it seemed as though I am showing a division between the races by not going in further detail.
     My great grandfather Ambrose Cully migrated to Worcester, MA from North Carolina in the late 1880’s, Leaving siblings, parents and many cousins with other surnames. Some resided in other areas of Craven County and at least by 1930 there were no direct line Cully’s on record based on my knowledge residing in New Bern, NC  except for some Willoughby, Carter, Whittington, Godette, Collins, Foreman relatives.
     Regardless of geographical isolation or non-isolation of Havelock, Harlowe, and Carteret, North Carolina our families were affected by the racism and acts of violence that had occurred throughout the state and states.  (Do I need to prove this in order to say that this has any historical meaning to my family?)  Well, much of my family originated and/or lived in North Carolina and still do and they lived in the times of the race struggles, so I say no I don’t have to prove, and yes it most definitely is relative to my ancestors and those still living in those days.  Apparently it was news worthy to be published in a Seattle Newspaper.   The civil rights movement and the things that occurred during this time were not isolated in just a few areas of the South.  This type of fear and intimidation tactics occurred throughout the U.S. So I say again, yes, racism and discrimination did affect my families.
     As a family historian, I believe that it is not only important to know the local history of our ancestors but also to look at other County, City, State and National News that might have relevance to their lives.  When I do my posts, I may not go into great detail as to how the information relates my family, as sometimes in research I may just take note and use the info in a greater context at a later date.
     The article below is one that occurred in New Bern before the bombing of the church in the above article. So, without doing any other research happening in North Carolina, I believe that the *Negro population as a whole were living in the shadow of intimidation and fear.  These bombings most likely were racially motivated.
Seattle Daily Times
January 25, 1965

 Then looking through Ancestry online newspapers I find in the Tucson Daily Citizen reporting the same incident with more detail and other bombings in the South

Tucson Daily Citizen
January 25, 1965
Courtesy of Ancestry.com
    History is History, be it tragic or triumphant. We all know that racism in America was present and it was blatant. I am not one to be in denial, and I know that the *Negro in America had many advocates of the European Race. This was a struggle for all freedoms and for all of us to live equally with equal access to quality education, housing, medical care, and live with the pursuit of happiness.  “We cannot be free until They are free.” The Fire Next Time-James Baldwin

     All of this is relative to me as my Uncle was a National CORE Vice President and trained those going to the South as Freedom Riders.  My father served as President of the NAACP, San Diego Branch, and was a Social Activist during the Civil Rights Movement.  When my father served the NAACP, he received calls threatening his life and of his family.  “May we live through the struggle, and may we all be triumphant.” ~ypm

*We were Negroes in the 60’s.

***Update My Cousin Michaud Robinson informed me that the founders of oscar’s mortuary were Oscar and Grace Becton Dove and not Oscar Godette as was stated in the newspaper articles.  Also Michaud informed me that Oscar is a distant cousin of his. (Thank you Michaud for the info!)


     The history of the Mortuary on the website:  Oscars Mortuary Website

Oscar’s Mortuary, Inc. was founded January 16, 1960 by Oscar Roosevelt Dove and wife, Grace Becton Dove. They founded and operated the business to provide quality service in the field of funeral service to the families served. In the early 60’s Oscar’s involvement in the Civil Rights movement resulted in the Mortuary being targeted by the Klu Klux Klan; crosses were burned and the building was bombed.
His death in 1975 and the Grace’s death in 2010 will not stop their work for it lives on in their children and grandchildren who have followed in their footsteps. The staff has been active in Civil Rights, Voting Drives, Mental Health Association, Senior Citizens Programs, Craven County Hospice, Craven County Planning and Zoning Board, Craven County Outreach Organization, YMCA Board, Chamber of Commerce, Cancer Fundraising Drives, MS Bike Tour and Planning Committee, Habitat for Humanity Board, Meals on Wheels, RCS Board, and hold memberships in the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Neuse-Pamlico Sound Women’s Coalition, Inc., the Funeral Directors and Morticians Association of North Carolina, Inc. and North Carolina Funeral Directors Association, NAACP, Knights of Columbus, Jazz Preservation Society of New Bern, George B. Willis Masonic Lodge, and Zeno Temple Elks Lodge.







3 thoughts on “Bombing & Explosions in Craven County, North Carolina (Fear & Intimidation)

  1. Thank you for supplying the background information on this post. It is not a matter of “proof”, nor of “justification,” but one of showing a broader relevance to the family experience.
    Oscar's Mortuary has handled with dignity many of our family's funeral services. There is a personal tie to the family…so a national story, one of racial intolerance, is brought down to the local and family level. This story also affected a community…and ultimately took its place in the course of the struggle for Civil Rights. While most of the emphasis at that time (when I was 4-years-old) was focused on the deep South, New Bern had its share in the struggle for dignity and equality.
    You are correct. This is an important piece; but until broader connections are made, as are done here, the real truth hides behind a 2-inch clipping. News articles leave traces of ancestors' experiences…but until we dig and share, we are trapped in a moment in time without personal context. Now this piece has become a story of personal significance…about “real” people…with familial connections. It has taken on flesh and blood…and humanness.
    Once again, I thank you.

  2. Nicely made connections. I think it is very interesting to tie in our families to the news of the day, local, national and international. Just as we and ours today are impacted by the happenings around us, so were they.

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