Save Money in this Sunday's paper
History turns personal
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick discover search for families’ shared past changes their view of present, future

Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick (left), with De Kirkpatrick at Myers Park in January, says, ''There is so much division and bickering over basic issues. This has reaffirmed that there are people with similar views on humanity.'' Photographer: David T. Foster III
Part 3 of a 3-part series

In early January, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick scraped away leaves and dirt from the edges of stone slabs to look for clues at Sardis Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

For a year, the past has kept calling to them. The discovery of a shared family history has expanded both of their personal narratives back a full century before they first met. Instead of beginning in 1965 when they were seniors together at Myers Park High, their history traces to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, when De’s ancestors owned Jimmie Lee’s ancestors.

Full story


SOLVING THE PUZZLE -- DAY TWO - FEBRUARY 18, 2014
Solving the puzzle
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and De Kirkpatrick learn how their families are linked in Mecklenburg County’s slave era

Part 2 of a 3-part series

In the mid-1920s, 12 Kirkpatricks gathered around their father, Sam, for a portrait. That’s him in front, holding a photograph of his wife, Isabella, who died in 1922 after more than 40 years together. Sam Kirkpatrick was born a slave in about 1853.

The family portrait, which looks as though it might have been taken on a Sunday after church, connects two generations of Kirkpatricks to more than 100 years of African-American life in Mecklenburg County: the freed slave Sam and his children, more than half of whom lived through the civil rights struggle in the 1960s.

Full story



A BINDING TRUTH -- DAY ONE - FEBRUARY 16, 2014
A binding truth
Shocking phone call reveals link between former Myers Park classmates

There was a message waiting for De Kirkpatrick when he returned to his Charlotte office: “Your cousin from Oregon called.” De laughed. Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick still has a sense of humor, he remembers thinking.

The two weren’t relatives and hadn’t been friends at Myers Park High School in 1965, but they did share the same last name. In the hallways then, they sometimes jokingly yelled, “Hey, Cuz.”

Full story



BREAKING THROUGH -- DAY ONE - FEBRUARY 24, 2013
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick
The collision of race and sports in Charlotte started in the early 1960s when high school football phenom Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick broke out to become one of the greatest and most controversial athletes in the city’s history.

In 1964, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick was on his way to becoming one of the greatest running backs to ever play high school football in Charlotte.

As a junior, he scored five touchdowns in one game and gained more than 10 yards every time he carried the ball, twice what the best players averaged.

In an era when black high schools were mostly ignored, Kirkpatrick became the first African-American to make the Charlotte Observer all-county team.

Full story




BREAKING THROUGH -- DAY TWO - FEBRUARY 27, 2013
A game that moved off the field and into court

As a kid, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick dreamed of playing in the Shrine Bowl. It was the biggest high school football game of the year. More than 14,000 people jammed Charlotte’s Memorial Stadium every December to watch the contest between the best players in North Carolina and South Carolina.

Full story


BREAKING THROUGH -- DAY THREE - MARCH 3, 2013


Myers Park High School's 1965 championship football team -- including stars Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick (left), Neb Hayden, Mack Tharpe and Harris Woodside -- gathered with trophies for a reunion in January. Photographer: David T. Foster III
Decades later, lessons stick for '65 teammates

Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick came home to visit Charlotte 47 years after moving from Second Ward to Myers Park, and during two emotional reunions learned that both his black and white high school football teammates learned lasting lessons from his experience.

Full story