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Dr. Heyward C. Bellamy Collection

Identifier: SC-MS-167

Scope and Contents

The Dr. Heyward C. Bellamy Collection contains court documents and supporting exhibit materials outlining the school integration law suit, Carolyn Eaton, et al v New Hanover County Board of Education. In addition to the original Eaton case, this collection contains documents related to the restraining order the New Hanover County School Board filed against individuals who would later be implicated in 1971 riots as part of the Wilmington Ten. This case is titled, Carolyn Eaton, et al v New Hanover County Board of Education v Ben Chavis, et al.

The majority of materials in the collection originated from or were sent to Attorney William Hill, who defended the New Hanover County Board of Education during the integration law suit. These documents were part of Hill's personal files and the newspapers are addressed to him as a personal subscription. The newspapers and clippings detail the Eaton trial, school integration progress, racial unrest in Wilmington during 1971, and the Wilmington Ten court case. In addition, there are materials relating to three other court case in which Hill was involved, including:

Delilah Banks v. William Register and the Bladen County Board of Social Services. Blanks accused the Board of racial descrimination in the process of voting in a new Chairman of the Board. William Hill represented the Bladen County Board of Social Services.

Harris Moore v Wilbur Lee Best and John Randy Winecoff, Wilmington Police Officers. Moore accused Best and Winecoff of using excessive force during his arrest due to racial discrimination. Hill represented the police officers during this trial.

John Rozier Bullard v Kenneth L. Smith and Dale Ward. Smith and Ward were Officers with the Columbus County Rural Police Department. Bullard sued the two men for damages after they allegedly inflicted serious injury in the process of arresting Bullard. William Hill represented the two police officers in this case.

An addition was later added to the collection, which includes newspaper articles and correspondence about George Wallace Cameron, Bellamy's grandfather-in-law. Cameron was known as a "Red Shirt" during the 1898 Massacre and Polling Place Riots in Wilmington. He was a prominent printer and publisher in Wilmington and was a leader of union activity for many years.


  • Creation: 1916 - 1991


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Copyright Statement

Copyright retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.

Biographical and Historical Note

Dr. Heyward C. Bellamy was born in 1924 in Horrey County, South Carolina. He and his family moved to Wilmington in 1935 to live with his aunt. In 1943, Bellamy graduated from New Hanover County High School and promptly enlisted with the Army Air Force. After the end of World War II, Bellamy attended the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and pursued degrees in education, completing his Ph.D in 1966.

Bellamy married Mary Cameron Dixon in 1947. Mary was the granddaughter of George Cameron, a well known printer in Wilmington, and the operator of the first linograph machine in the city. Cameron was known as a "Red Shirt" during the 1898 Massacre and was extolled by his peers as a great fighter for white supremecy.

From 1951 to 1954, Dr. Bellamy taught science at New Hanover County High School. He later became Assistant Principal at the Chestnut Street School from 1954 to 1960, during which time he also served as the county President of the North Carolina Education Association. In 1960, Dr. Bellamy was voted Supervisor of Secondary Schools for the New Hanover County School System. He was elected Superintendent of New Hanover County Schools in 1968 and served until his retirement in 1981. In 2006, Heyward Bellamy was given the Star-News Lifetime Achievement Award. He passed away December 14, 2014.

During the mid 1960s, the New Hanover County School System was undergoing the process of racial integration. Until 1965, the schools had been operating on a Pupil Assignment program, where students could be placed in a different school by request. Dr. Hubert A. Eaton filed a lawsuit against the New Hanover County Board of Education for not fulfilling the Brown v Board of Education mandate to desegregate schools, arguing that the Pupil Assignment program did not allow African-American children the right or opportunity to attend primarily white schools. From the Pupil Assignment program, the county moved to a "Freedom of Choice" program, in which the parents were allowed more leeway in deciding which school their children would attend. At this time, the school system also began desegregating the staff at county schools. The Freedom of Choice program was deemed insufficient and the School Board looked to alternative methods of compliance with Brown v Board of Education II, whose decision mandated that schools desegregate "with all deliberate speed." This began the discussion of closing schools to combine black and white schools throughout the county and busing children to ensure equal distribution of races.

Dr. Hubert A. Eaton was a well known African-American doctor in Wilmington, North Carolina and was instumental in the desegregation of multiple institutions within New Hanover County, in addition to the the school system.

In March 1951, Eaton brought suit against the New Hanover County Board of Education for violating Plessy v. Ferguson, requiring black schools to be equal to white schools. The victory of this lawsuit resulted in the planning and building of the Williston High School facility in 1964, a new symbol of pride for the black community. The day of the school opening, the upper courts overturned Plessy v. Ferguson, passing Brown v. Board of Education, which ultimatly led to the closing of Williston as a high school within a few short years.

In 1956, Dr. Eaton filed his first suit against James Walker Memorial Hospital, pushing for desegregation of staff and patients. He won this case and James Walker Memorial, the white hospital, and Community Hospital, the black facility, closed down. New Hanover Memorial Hospital opended in 1967 as a fully integrated medical facility for both staff and patients.

In 1964, with the passing of Brown v Board of Education, Dr. Eaton tackled the school issue again. Using his daughter, Carolyn as the plantiff, he again sued the New Hanover County Board of Education for school integration. After a tumultuous 6 years, it was finally ordered that Wilmington Schools desegregate immediatly. The school year of 1970-1971 was the first year of full integration, as well as significant community divides and violent protests.

In 1969, it was decided that Williston High School would close as a high school and all students would be combined with New Hanover High School and John T. Hoggard High School, fulfilling the mandated integration requirements set down by the courts. The closing of Williston brought about protests and student boycotts of school attendance. The boycotting students began meeting at Gregory Congregational Church, organizing protests and discussing racial problems in the school system.

Violence erupted on February 6, 1971, resulting in the arrests of nine young black man and an older white woman. These individuals became known as the "Wilmington Ten." They were convicted of arson and conspiracy in connection with the firebombing of a white-owned grocery store. They were sentenced to a total of 282 years in prison. The surviving members were granted a pardon of innocence by Governor Beverly Perdue on December 31, 2012.


17 Containers (Contains 12 document boxes, 3 oversize boxes, and 2 oversize folders.)

Language of Materials



Dr. Heyward C. Bellamy served as Superintendant of the New Hanover County School System from 1968 to 1981, during which time he oversaw the integration of public schools. This collection contains materials relating to the integration of New Hanover County schools, including court documents and supporting exhibit materials from integration law suits, as well as other school integration and civil rights cases from the area and nationally.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Dr. Heyward Bellamy on April 20, 2000. An addition was donated on February 25, 2010.

Dr. Heyward C. Bellamy Papers
Under Revision
Special Collections Staff
2022 September
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Randall Library Special Collections Repository