John Hervey Wheeler, Black Banking, and the Economic Struggle for Civil Rights
Utilizing previously unexamined sources from the John Hervey Wheeler Collection at the Atlanta University Center Robert W. Woodruff Library, this biography explores the black freedom struggle through the life of North Carolina's most influential black power broker. After graduating from Morehouse College, Wheeler returned to Durham and began a decades-long career at Mechanics and Farmers (M&F) Bank. He started as a teller and rose to become bank president in 1952. In 1961, President Kennedy appointed Wheeler to the President's Committee on Equal Employment Opportunity, a position in which he championed equal rights for African Americans and worked with Vice President Johnson to draft civil rights legislation. One of the first blacks to attain a high position in the state's Democratic Party, Wheeler became the state party's treasurer in 1968, and then its financial director.
Wheeler urged North Carolina's white financial advisors to steer the region toward the end of Jim Crow segregation for economic reasons. Straddling the line between confrontation and negotiation, Wheeler pushed for increased economic opportunity for African Americans while reminding the white South that its future was linked to the plight of black southerners.
About the Author
"Brandon K. Winford's impressive biography brilliantly places banker and attorney John Hervey Wheeler at the center of the long black freedom struggle in North Carolina. Meticulously researched, this outstanding work of scholarship makes a valuable contribution to our understanding of the history of black business and the civil rights movement and should be required reading for students of both subjects."—"—Jerry Gershenhorn, author of Louis Austin and the Carolina Times: A Life in the Long Black Freedom Struggle
"This is a great book about a great man who, through mentoring and sponsoring me early in my career, is largely responsible for whatever success I have in my life. And I am one of many, black and white, who were instructed and inspired by John Hervey Wheeler's extraordinary life of leadership and service."—"—Vernon E. Jordan Jr., former president of the National Urban League and adviser to President Bill Clinton
"A clearly written and well-researched study. . . . Winford has written an important book that recovers the fascinating story of John Hervey Wheeler. It provides a fair and balanced assessment of his legacy and expands historical knowledge of the Black freedom struggle in the Tar Heel State."—Journal of Southern History
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