About the Tales...
As explained by the author, Ann McColl:
Constitutional Tales began as a research project when I was a visiting faculty member at the School of Government at UNC Chapel Hill while on leave from UNC Charlotte in 2007-2008. I originally intended to conduct a legal analysis of the education provisions of the constitution, relying primarily on court opinions. I read some classic texts on our state’s history to provide some context. And with the gift of time, I then began reviewing some original documents in the State Archives. I was hooked. The project shifted to weaving together historical accounts that used these primary documents along with the legal analysis to give a more complete understanding of our constitution.
Content of the Constitutional Tales
The education provisions in our current constitution are rooted in the reconstruction-era constitution – the 1868 Constitution. The Tales from this period describe how a carpetbagger led the way to a constitutional right to education and how African Americans played a key role in advocating for and leading in the creation of public schools. The Tales reveal the influence of John Adams. They explain why the education of children with disabilities was treated separately. And how, just a couple of years after the 1868 Constitution was approved by voters, the General Assembly successfully sought an amendment to break the inseparable connection called for between the public schools and the university. The Tales also explain why the long ballot was sought as a means to implement an agenda of profound change from the Antebellum practices. As the Tales move forward in time to address constitutional amendments and the attempts to rewrite the constitution, crucial periods of North Carolina history, including the Ayock era at the turn of the twentieth century and the depression era are addressed. The Tales explain the forces behind our current 1971 Constitution and bring us to present day with interpretations by North Carolina courts, including in the important ongoing litigation, Leandro v. State.
Judge Howard E. Manning reading from his court opinions.
The purpose of the Constitutional Tales project is to disseminate this fuller understanding of our constitution and its history so that we can make better decisions today: courts can have a more complete interpretation of the constitution; legislators and policy-makers can make choices consistent with the fundamental principles of the constitution; and we all can have a greater appreciation for what this history means to us as a state.The Tales share stories that sometimes have been ignored or even intentionally erased. By learning these stories, we can appreciate the courage and sacrifice demonstrated by some leaders and acknowledge the mistakes and injustices committed by others. This allows us all to better recognize the impact this history has had on the people of North Carolina so that we can move forward as a State.
Reverend William Barber II portraying James Walker Hood.