Black History in Carrboro

Black History Month
During Black History Month and year round, the Town of Carrboro observes the culture, heritage and indelible impact made by the Black community. We are proud to champion awareness in bringing representation, diversity, equity and inclusion. 
  1. Braxton Foushee
  2. Stanley Vickers
  3. Elizabeth "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.

The Town of Carrboro recognizes 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 and serving until 1983. Long-time residents remember him as the young activist mayor who was elected as part of the progressive Carrboro Coalition in the 1970s. 

Drakeford 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. He also established a loan program to encourage business entrepreneurs, and created the Carrboro Community Park, later renamed the Hank Anderson Community Park. The biggest issue during his tenure was planning the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Bus System. 

Former 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 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.” 

The Town of Carrboro recognizes Robert “Bob” Drakeford for his service to the community, for his courage and dedication, and for laying the foundation for an inclusive community.