News Flash


Posted on: February 1, 2022

City honoring black American firsts in Lenoir and Caldwell County

News article about Thomas Scott Jr First Student to Integrate Lenoir City Schools

In celebration of Black History Month, the City of Lenoir will honor black American firsts that happened here in Lenoir and Caldwell County via several social media posts throughout February.

The first post of this series was published today and features Thomas Scott Jr., the first student to integrate Lenoir City Schools. According to the news article, "On Sept. 3, 1964, Thomas A. Scott, Jr., walked into Lenoir High School as the first black in Caldwell County to enter an all-white school."

Staff will update this story on the City website as new posts are published. Readers can click the images below for high resolution versions of the scans in each post. Be sure to follow the City of Lenoir on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to see new posts throughout Black History Month.

Related: Mayor Joe Gibbons proclaimed February 2022 to be Black History Month



Post 1, Feb 1, 2022: In celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth, the City will honor black American firsts that happened here in Lenoir and Caldwell County. The first post of this series features Thomas Scott Jr., the first student to integrate Lenoir City Schools. On Sept. 3, 1964, Mr. Scott walked into Lenoir High School as the first black person in Caldwell County to enter an all-white school.

News article about Thomas Scott Jr First Student to Integrate Lenoir City Schools

Post 2, Feb. 3, 2022: Today we honor Petrenella Harper. Ms. Harper was selected as Lenoir High School's first black Homecoming Queen in 1970. The event marked a milestone for Caldwell County Schools. Ms. Harper is shown with Maid of Honor Becky Blair Thompson. #BlackHistoryMonth

Petrenella Harper, First Black Homecoming Queen, Lenoir High School, 1970

Post 3, Feb. 5, 2022: Today we honor former City employee Samuel T. Sturgis Jr. Mr. Sturgis worked for the City of Lenoir Parks and Recreation Department for 40 years (1962-2002). He was hired as director of the former Viewmont Recreation Center, which later became the Martin Luther King Jr. Center. He became the first black Assistant Director of the department in 1968 and the City's first black Parks & Recreation Director in 1983. In 2011, the City named the gym at the MLK Jr. Center after him in his honor. Thank you Mr. Sturgis for dedicating so much of your time and talents to our community. #BlackHistoryMonth

Sam Sturgis

Newspaper article about Sam Sturgis, first black Parks & Recreation Director

Post 4, Feb. 8, 2022: Today we honor Dr. A.G. Dula, M.D., Lenoir's first black doctor. Dr. Dula was born in 1880 and passed in 1949. The article is written by his daughter, Dorothy Dula Lewis. #BlackHistoryMonth

News article about Dr. AG Dula, the first black doctor in Lenoir

Post 5, Feb. 11, 2022: Today we honor Mr. Claude Faucette Erwin Sr. Mr. Erwin was the first black City Councilman in Lenoir. He was appointed in 1971 to a vacant seat by Mayor Robert Gibbons and then reelected in 1973. Councilman Erwin served several terms on City Council thereafter. The first photo is Mr. Erwin taking his oath of office in 1973. Mr. Erwin is second from left and Mayor Robert Gibbons is on the right. See previous  #BlackHistoryMonth posts at

Claud Faucette Erwin Sr. takes his oath of office in 1973

Claud Faucette Erwin Sr.

Post 6, Feb. 16, 2022: Today we honor former City employee Warren Harper. Mr. Harper was the City of Lenoir Fire Department's first black firefighter. He retired from the City in 1999 after 30 years of service. Mr. Harper passed away Nov. 14, 2020. Read more about Mr. Harper on the City website at View previous #BlackHistoryMonth posts at

Warren Harper

Warren Harper and his fellow firefighters

Post 7, Feb. 18, 2022: As our #BlackHistoryMonth posts continue, today we honor Mr. James Reid. Mr. Reid graduated from Freedman High School in 1963 and was the first black athlete from Caldwell County to be drafted into the NBA. Mr. Reid was drafted in the fifth round of the 1967 NBA draft by the Philadelphia 76ers and played that season with the team. He was later selected by the Milwaukee Bucks in the 1968 NBA Expansion Draft, according to Wikipedia.

James Reid, WSSU

James Reid drafted to NBA article

Post 8, Feb. 21, 2022: Today we honor Inez C. Jones in celebration of #BlackHistoryMonth. Mrs. Jones accomplished two black American firsts in the City of Lenoir and Caldwell County. In 1965, she became the first black teacher at Lenoir High School and in 1991, she became the first black woman elected to the City of Lenoir City Council. Mrs. Jones passed away in 2015. Lenoir MLK Center.

Story written about Inez Jones about her experience being the first black teacher at LHS

Inez Jones, right, talks to Ed George

Post 9, Feb. 23, 2022: Today we honor Commander John Gordon Witherspoon. Commander Witherspoon graduated from Freedman High School in Lenoir in 1959, enlisted in US Coast Guard in 1963, and later became the first black American to command a medium-endurance cutter - the USCGC Valiant. According to an article written by By Capt. John E. Williams, "When Witherspoon assumed command of the Coast Guard’s Vessel Traffic Services-Houston/Galveston, the event marked the first time an African American officer had commanded both afloat and ashore units." Read the article online at In 1994, the NAACP named Witherspoon a recipient of the Roy Wilkins Renown Service Award for his achievements in civil rights. The Coast Guard also established an annual award for distinguished leadership named after Witherspoon. In 2019, the Coast Guard announced that John Witherspoon would be the namesake of the 58th cutter, USCGC John Witherspoon. Commander Witherspoon passed away in 1994 and is buried in the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. #BlackHistoryMonth

Commander John G. Witherspoon



Post 10, Feb. 25, 2022: Today we honor Officer Otis Michaux and Officer Clifton Hayes. Staff believe officers Michaux and Hayes were the first black police officers at the City of Lenoir Police Department. #BlackHistoryMonth

Lenoir Police Department Officers

Lenoir Police Department Officer Otis Michaux

Lenoir Police Officer Clifton Hayes

Post 11, Feb. 27, 2022: Today we honor Mickey Hickerson. In 1969, Mr. Hickerson, from Lenoir, was the first black student athlete to play on the The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Tarheels Baseball Team. Mr. Hickerson went on to play for the White Sox in 1972. #BlackHistoryMonth

Mickey Hickerson

Mickey Hickerson article

Post 12, Feb. 28, 2022: The final post of our black American firsts in Lenoir and Caldwell County series honors City of Lenoir Fire Department Assistant Chief Tyrone Sturgis. Chief Sturgis was hired as a firefighter in 1986. In 2004, he was promoted to Captain and became the highest ranking black officer in the history of the department. In 2013, he was promoted to Battalion Chief, and in 2018 he was promoted to his current position of Assistant Chief of Logistics. Chief Sturgis is the son of the City's first black Parks & Recreation Director Samuel T. Sturgis. Thank you, Chief Sturgis, for the 36 years you have given to the City of Lenoir! Check out all the previous #BlackHistoryMonth posts on the City website at

Assistant Chief Tyrone Sturgis

News-Topic article about Assistant Chief Tyrone Sturgis

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