Skip to content

UNC Building to be Renamed after Pauli Murray

The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill announced late last week that they would rename Hamilton Hall in honor of Durham native Pauli Murray. UNC-Chapel Hill is in the process of renaming several campus buildings with “racially unjust” names.

In 1938, Pauli Murray, an inductee of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, applied to the Ph.D program in sociology at UNC-CH but was “denied admission because, as university officials wrote at the time, ‘members of your race are not admitted to the university.’” She also was denied admission to Harvard University because of her gender.

After receiving her law degree at Howard University, she later earned a Master’s degree in law from the University of California at Berkeley and was a tutor in law at Yale, where she received her Doctorate in 1965.

Pauli Murray had a distinguished and varied career as a civil rights lawyer, a professor, a college vice president, and deputy attorney general of California. She was named Woman of the Year by Mademoiselle in 1947. She later interrupted her law practice to spend four years researching and writing Proud Shoes: The Story of an American Family, which was published in 1956.

At age sixty-two, Pauli Murray entered seminary and embarked upon a new career. In 1977, she was the first Black woman in the U.S. to become an Episcopal priest. In performing her first Holy Eucharist at the Chapel of the Cross in Chapel Hill, where her grandmother, a slave, had been baptized, Murray finally believed that “All the strands of my life had come together.”

UNC-Chapel Hill released this statement about renaming the building after Murray:

Pauli Murray represents the immutable spirit of scholarship and public service, as she made major contributions to our society in the face of nearly insurmountable resistance. She also represents a path not taken for UNC at an important point in the history of our disciplines and departments. Naming our building after Pauli Murray will serve as a reminder of what is lost, what could have been, and what can be as we move forward.

Hamilton Hall was named after Joseph Grégoire de Roulhac Hamilton (August 6, 1878 – November 10, 1961), a professor, an author, a traveler, and an archivist. He was a Kenan professor and founded the Southern Historical Collection at the UNC, the world’s largest collection of documents related to Southern history.

However, Hamilton’s written works on Reconstruction portray “a biased view in favor of the American South” and espoused “the supremacy of the white race.” (For more about Hamilton’s controversial views, click here.)

According to INDY Week, “UNC still has more than 30 buildings named after slaveholders and white supremacists. Murray Hall is the sixth building on campus to be named after a Black person.”

Pauli Murray’s childhood home, in Durham, has been named a National Historic Landmark. In 2012, Murray was named an Episcopal Saint. The Pauli Murray Center for History and Social Justice was scheduled to open this year.

For more about Pauli Murray’s writing, check out her inductee page at the NC Literary Hall of Fame. For more about her life, activism, and legacy, including her writing, head on over to The Pauli Murray Project.

So, What’s Up with this “Letter” You’ve Been Hearing About?

What do Margaret Atwood, Noam Chomsky, Malcolm Gladwell, Garry Kasparov, Salman Rushdie, JK Rowling, and Gloria Steinem have in common? They are all signees of a recent open letter denouncing the “restriction of debate.”

The letter is notable for the heavyweights who signed it; recent controversies swirling around some of the signees; and because the letter comes at a time when the world is grappling with racial and social reckoning.

We share this because writers should be aware of this literary controversy, and of the various perspectives represented.

The letter asserts:

But this needed reckoning has also intensified a new set of moral attitudes and political commitments that tend to weaken our norms of open debate and toleration of differences in favor of ideological conformity. As we applaud the first development, we also raise our voices against the second.

The letter speaks out against “cancel culture,” which it says only propagates “an intolerance of opposing views, a vogue for public shaming and ostracism, and the tendency to dissolve complex policy issues in a blinding moral certainty.”

Harper’s Magazine published the letter on July 7.

The letter has come under scrutiny from outlets such as The Los Angeles Times, and at least one author has revoked their endorsement of the letter.

Others, such as Richard Kim, HuffPost’s enterprise director, refused to sign the letter initially because he could see it was “fatuous, self-important drivel that would only troll the people it allegedly was trying to reach.”

So how did this all even come together in the first place? The letter was the brainchild of Thomas Chatterton Williams, “a Harper’s columnist and New York Times Magazine contributor who is the author of, among other books, Self-Portrait in Black and White: Unlearning Race.”

Asked why the letter was published, Williams cited several recent incidents, including fallouts at the National Book Critics Circle and at the Poetry Foundation following their respective statements on the Black Lives Matter movement, and the firing of data analyst David Shor, who tweeted a study linking looting and the election of Richard Nixon.

The letter concludes:

As writers we need a culture that leaves us room for experimentation, risk taking, and even mistakes. We need to preserve the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences. If we won’t defend the very thing on which our work depends, we shouldn’t expect the public or the state to defend it for us.

So, lots to think about.

Where is the line between honest debate, justified call-outs of insidious words, and illiberal intolerance? What effects has social media—such as the blog you’re now reading—had on our public discourse?

Happy Trails, Rebecca Moore and David Potorti!

From our friends at the North Carolina Arts Council:

David Potorti

Rebecca Moore, director of marketing, and David Potorti, literature and theater director, have announced their departure from the North Carolina Arts Council.

David will leave his position effective July 27 to pursue training in live audio description for arts events, voiceover work, and audiobook narration. Rebecca departs September 1 to work full-time in media relations.

Rebecca facilitated the North Carolina Arts Council’s presence through messaging, brand management, and communications. She was responsible for, promotional materials, and provided marketing support for all programs including Poet Laureate, N.C. Heritage Award, and SmART Communities.

Rebecca joined the staff in 2005 charged with promoting arts and culture in N.C., with an emphasis on funded organizations and cultural tourism. She launched the Arts Council’s first blog and guided the first steps into social media and the creation of cultural tourism videos as a storytelling medium—unique at that time among state arts agencies.

Additionally, she coordinated the agency’s first media/publicity event in New York, which resulted in national placements in Antiques Magazine and American Craft Magazine, for example, and hosted a press tour in Kinston and Wilson for the African American Music Trails. Rebecca oversaw new messaging and an updated logo for the 50th anniversary of the agency. Through the years she facilitated media partnerships with Our State magazine, UNC-TV, and, and she coordinated statewide press announcements of the Arts Economic Prosperity studies.

Rebecca Moore

She served as project manager with the University of North Carolina Press on the production and launch of two volumes of Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina, Literary Trails of North Carolina (Mountains, Piedmont, and Eastern volumes), and African American Music Trails of Eastern North Carolina.

“I am privileged to have been part of a remarkable staff at the North Carolina Arts Council, and I am grateful to the amazing artists in our state and our arts organizations who work so hard to elevate awareness of the arts in our state,” Rebecca said.

David joined the Arts Council as its arts tourism manager in 2007. Drawing on his background as a journalist, writer, folklorist, and radio and television producer, David produced more than 150 videos as the “Artful Traveler.” Supporting the Arts Council’s series of cultural tourism guidebooks, David traveled across the state, interviewing and capturing the work of N.C. artists in craft, theater, literature, dance, music, and the visual arts and highlighting arts communities in Penland, Seagrove, and Cherokee.

He later took on responsibilities for grantmaking to theater and literature organizations and artists and directly facilitated the work of four of our state’s poet laureates: Cathy Smith Bowers, Joseph Bathanti, Shelby Stephenson, and Jaki Shelton Green (North Carolina’s first African American poet laureate). He assisted Jaki in earning the inaugural Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellowship for her “Literary Changemakers” project. David documented several N.C. Literary Hall of Fame induction ceremonies and created and promoted opportunities for recipients of N.C. Arts Council literature fellowships to read from their work at independent bookstores statewide.

“My favorite memories include capturing Mark Dendy’s site-specific choreography in and outside of the new Durham Performing Arts Center; documenting the fiftieth anniversary show of Bill Myers and the Monitors at the Boykin Theatre, in Wilson; capturing Black Mountain College’s seventy-fifth anniversary events at Lenoir-Rhyne University; and recording Haliwa-Saponi Pow Wow activities,” David said.

Although he is leaving the Arts Council, David will not be slowing down. In addition to completing personal writing projects, he will be active in journalism and community organizing.

The impact of the work that Rebecca and David have done will be felt across North Carolina for years to come. Please join the Arts Council staff in thanking them for their outstanding service to the state.


On behalf of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, we would like to thank both Rebecca and David for their service and for their tireless support of the NC Writers’ Network. The NC Arts Council is the NC Writers’ Network’s single largest and longest-supporting grantor.

We’ve enjoyed working with them both over the years and wish them godspeed and good luck!

Three Silas House Reissues

Blair, based in Durham, has just re-released Silas House’s Appalachian trilogy in new paperback editions:

Silas House gave the Keynote Address at the NCWN 2011 Fall Conference in Asheville. He is The New York Times bestselling author of six novels, one book of creative nonfiction, and three plays. He teaches at Berea College and in the Spalding University School of Writing.

The Coal Tattoo was named the Appalachian Book of the Year and was a finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize. A Parchment of Leaves was the winner of the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and a finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize.

The three companion novels form a rich tableau of life in rural mountain Kentucky that remains incredibly popular to this day.

Blair is nonprofit press combining the lists of Carolina Wren Press and John F. Blair, Publisher.

They strive to publish quality writing, focusing on authors and subjects historically neglected by mainstream publishers, including women, people of color, authors with disabilities, and LGBT authors. True to their roots in North Carolina, they look to the many voices of the South—and beyond—as sources of work and inspiration.

Short Online Works Soon Eligible for Group Copyright Protection

We’ve got some great news for all you bloggers out there: as of August 17, 2020, bloggers will be able to apply for copyrights for up to fifty short works on a single application for the low-low price of $65.

To qualify for this option, each [of the works sought to be registered] must contain at least 50 words but no more than 17,500 words [about 70 typed pages]. The works must be created by the same individual, or jointly by the same individuals, and each creator must be named as the copyright claimant or claimants for each work…. [T]he applicant may submit up to 50 works with one application and one filing fee … and [must] upload a .ZIP file containing a separate digital file for each work…. [T]he registration will cover each work as a separate work of authorship.

Mitch Tuchman of Morningstar Law Group gives a great rundown over on his blog.

According to Mitch, in order to be eligible, “all works in a group application must have been published online within a three-month calendar period. No works for hire—i.e., works created by employees within the scope of employment or other strictly delimited circumstances—can be included.* Claims for illustrations, graphs or computer programs are disallowed.”

Blogging started out as a great way for writers to voice their opinions and publish their art without having to navigate gate keepers. Authors who used blogs to pen stories in installments were able to get feedback on the stories from readers in real-time and satisfy (or subvert!) expectations.

Questions around what qualified as “published” followed soon after. Many literary journals and publishers weren’t interested in publishing work that had first appeared on a blog. As a result, authors needed to be careful when and where their work appeared, if they were holding out hope that the same work might appear in a more traditional outlet.

Now, of course, blogs are big business. Many organizations have their own, and many authors have turned their blogs into traditional publishing deals.

“The applicability of group registration to blogs, newsletters, even social media posts has been unclear,” Mitch says. “Hats off to the Copyright Office for making this effort to facilitate registration for busy bloggers or prolific social media posters.”

Got questions? Morningstar Law Group is happy to help. Contact them here.


*Sigh. And here I’d harbored hopes of turning the Network’s blog into a movie deal. Guess I really am writing all these blog posts only for The Man…


This week, readers across the world have made it their aim to “blackout” bestseller lists with titles by Black authors:

“To demonstrate our power and clout in the publishing industry, June 14 – June 20, we encourage you to purchase any two books by Black Writers. Our goal is to Blackout Bestseller lists with Black Voices.”

Earlier this week, we recommended six titles by inductees of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame.

But if you’re anything like us, you’re always looking for something else good to read. Why not try one of these titles from Black-owned small presses with ties to North Carolina?

American Herstory by celeste doaks
Backbone Press:
A collection of brilliant poems that speak to and about former First Lady Michelle Obama. Spanning themes of family, art, gardening, and race, they are as lighthearted as they are heavy. American Herstory is the winner of the inaugural Backbone Press Chapbook Award. “American Herstory is an intimate, inspirational, and occasionally hilarious meditation on Michelle Obama,” says Entropy magazine. “But the collection also says something dead-serious and vital—that women, especially black women, are still ready to fight.”


Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing (Stephanie Andrea Allen and Lauren Cherelle, editors)
BLF Press:
Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing encompasses the broad spectrum of Black speculative writing, including science fiction, fantasy, magical realism, and Afrofuturism, all by Black women writers. “Within this revelatory 22-piece anthology of prose and poetry across the horror, fantasy, and science fiction genres, editors Allen and Cherelle have gathered works by some of the best and boldest voices in African-American speculative writing,” says Publisher’s Weekly in a Starred Review. “There’s something for everyone in this outstanding anthology.”




The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript by Zelda Lockhart
LaVenson Press:
Utilize your emotional, psychological, and spiritual self to produce the first draft of a full-length manuscript. This book acts as creative companion for individuals (those with or without writing experience) as they journey through the sharing of an impactful event in life, do exercises that help them transform internal obstacles into external gifts, and then write resolution and outcome. “This book should come with a warning label,” says Dorothy Allison, author of Bastard Out of Carolina. “Be ready, you are going to have to go deeper than you ever imagined.'”




Just Do You by Trina Ramsey
Minerva Rising Press:
A practical guide to help women over 40 live their best life. Are you stuck in autopilot? Do you go through each day putting one foot in front of the other with little thought about why? Are you happy and fulfilled in your life? If not, what would you do differently? Through journaling and self-reflection, Just Do You! uses life lessons to challenge women over forty to confront their limiting beliefs and open the door to a more peace, joyous life. Trina Ramsey is a life coach and speaker specializing in personal transformation, with over twenty years of experience in business, fundraising, and management. She created the Just Do You Institute for Women s Empowerment for women over forty who are ready to live full, fearless, and authentic lives.


This week, you can be part of a campaign to “Black Out” the bestseller lists:

This initiative, being shared across social media with the hashtag #BlackoutBestsellerList, has the sole mission of demonstrating Black writers’ power in the publishing industry one book at a time.

Purchase any two books by Black writers before June 20 to demonstrate the power and clout of Black writers in the publishing industry.

And, ahem, if we may make some recommendations? Why not start with a few books by inductees of the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame?

All books are available from your local bookstore, or you can support indies everywhere by ordering through

Looking for more? Other Black inductees to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame include:

It’s gonna be a long summer. Why not stock up?

Manly Wade Wellman Award Longlist

The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation has announced the longlist for the 2020 Manly Wade Wellman Award. The 2020 award covers novels published in 2019.

Among the eighteen titles is To the Bones by longtime friend of the Network Valerie Nieman, a “genre-bending satire of the coal industry and its effects on Appalachia” from West Virginia University Press.

NCWN member T. Frohock’s Where Oblivion Lives (Harper Voyager) made the list: a Los Nefilim novel, Where Oblivion Lives is a “dark, lyrical historical thriller, set in 1930s Spain and Germany, that brings to life the world of angels and demons from the novellas collected in Los Nefilim: Spanish Nephilim battling daimons in a supernatural war to save humankind.”

Also included is Carl Perkins’ Cadillac by John G. Hartness (Falstaff Books). John’s no stranger to Network events, having served on faculty and as an exhibitor. Carl Perkins’ Cadillac is Book 5 of the Quincy Harker Demon Hunter series. John won the 2016 Manly Wade Wellman Award.

Gail Z. Martin’s Inheritence (SOL Publishing) also made the list. Gail taught at the NCWN 2018 Fall Conference. Inheritence is the fourth book in the Deadly Curiosities series. Gail won the 2018 Manly Wade Wellman Award.

For the full longlist, click here.

The North Carolina Speculative Fiction Foundation (NCSFF) was founded in December 2013 to promote the writing and reading of speculative fiction in North Carolina and to recognize outstanding achievements in North Carolina science fiction and fantasy.

Manly Wade Wellman was a 1996 inductee to the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame. He wrote thirty-five adventure novels for boys, nearly half of them set in North Carolina in the southeastern part of the state, and in the mountains. These include both contemporary mystery/adventure stories and historical novels.

Although his work has been called “science fiction,” he successfully blended his varied interests to create a genre now referred to as speculative fiction. His fascination with Appalachian history and folklore form the basis for his fantastic Silver John series, which features a virtuous folk-ballad-singing young hero who battles supernatural forces of evil in the North Carolina mountains, defending the innocent and timid. Wellman’s numerous works of speculative fiction also include a Martian murder mystery, tales of loathsome alien invaders, and Twice in Time, the story of a man who falls into the fifteenth century and becomes Leonardo da Vinci.

A shortlist of finalists will be announced on Wednesday, July 1, and the winner(s) will be announced at ConGregate on Friday, July 17, 2020. However, as ConGregate will not be held in person this year, location and manner of the announcement is subject to change at this time.

The Mothership Departs: Farewell, Mothership

The Mothership

The Durham arts community will lose an invaluable nerve center when The Mothership permanently closes its doors at the end of June. The Mothership made the announcement late last weeek.

From the beginning of this crisis, we’ve been dedicated to letting the new conditions (stay-at-home orders, physical distancing, a reshuffled economy) conjure the greatest amount of imagination and possibility for us and our business. As the COVID-19 narrative unfolds and intersects with other timelines and challenges we face as a business, the story that emerges is one of a razor thin path–if we hold on to our building. And although we have walked many tightropes in our history, this one is just too narrow.

Six years ago, The Mothership opened its garage doors as a co-working space in the heart of downtown Durham, just steps from restaurants, bars, hiking trails, and more. The Mothership coworking offered freelancers, business owners, and remote workers a space for their good ideas.

Collaboration blossomed in many exciting and unexpected ways as artisans sold goods through The Mothership Shop and writers read from their works-in-progress at free monthly readings.

The monthly Durham Writers’ Salon offered writers an evening of writing time followed by reflection and encouragement. The good vibes will be missed.

Originally, a farewell event was planned to open tonight through June 7. This event has been postponed; check Facebook for details.

The North Carolina Writers’ Network would like to with The Mothershp godspeed: see you in your next incarnation.

NCWN Statement of June 2, 2020

Y’all might recall a few years ago, when some writers from Minnesota sought to challenge our claim that North Carolina is “the Writingest State.” Our debate was heated but good-natured, well-read but frivolous, and—now, in the light of the last seven days—luxurious, reflective of a far less urgent time.

The board, staff, and members of the North Carolina Writers’ Network are proud to stand with our friends and fellow writers in Minneapolis, as well as all other people there and in communities across the country. We stand with all who seek to make their voices heard and their stories known.

We stand against those who seek to silence voices and stifle stories through violence, which only ever reflects the failure or abandonment of language and human reasoning.

We stand against those who inflict violence on credentialed media members, the professional storytellers who put themselves in harm’s way to seek and serve the facts of human experience. We deplore such acts, whether committed by agents of the state or not.

If we have not made it clear before, let us do so now: The North Carolina Writers’ Network is an anti-racist organization. We cannot pursue our mission of connection and community and be otherwise.

We cannot stand by our Statement of Belief—“We believe that writing is necessary both for self-expression and community spirit, that well-written words can connect people across time and distance, and that the deeply satisfying experiences of writing and reading should be available to everyone”—and not oppose the exclusion of any people, anybody with whom we share our full and common humanity—which is everybody.

Black lives matter. Black voices and stories matter, and are, and long have been, subject to unique and ingrained harm in this nation.

We do not “look forward,” passively, to a time when words like these will be unnecessary. We commit ourselves to the work of making such a time come to pass, of making this statement—and all such like it—obsolete. We commit ourselves, again, to lifting up Black writers within the Network, as members, teachers, speakers, and contest judges. We commit ourselves to the work of making the horrific events of the last seven days, and of the last 400 years, not a reality still lived, but only a story still told.


Ed Southern                                                     Shervon Cassim
Executive Director                                          President
North Carolina Writers’ Network                    North Carolina Writers’ Network