T. J. Reddy papers
Scope and Contents
This collection of papers documents the arrest, conviction, subsequent hearings and appeals, and the related efforts of support groups, primarily the North Carolina Political Prisoners' Committee. Also contains material from the same time period documenting Reddy's interests and activities related to the civil rights movement. Finally, the collection contains letters written by TJ to his wife, Vicky, while in prison.
- Creation: 1967 - 1985
- Reddy, T. J. (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Biographical / Historical
Thomas James "T. J." Reddy was an artist, poet and civil rights activist who once served time in jail as a member of the Charlotte Three. He was born in Savannah, Ga. on August 8, 1945. His family moved to New York City when he was 14, where he attended Boys High School (1959-63). In 1964, he enrolled in Johnson C. Smith University. Reddy transferred to UNC Charlotte in 1967, where he received a B.A. in History and Sociology (1974) and a Masters in Education (1977). While at UNC Charlotte, Reddy was a poetry consultant and associate editor of Three, an arts magazine, and he won the LeGette Blythe Creative Writing Award (1969). He was instrumental in the formation of the Black Student Union and of the African and Afro-American Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. Reddy became active politically in the civil rights movement soon after his arrival in Charlotte. He participated in the protest against the Vietnam War and, in particular, against the government's plan to heighten recruiting efforts in the black community, by distributing anti-draft leaflets. He protested segregation and denial of equal treatment to blacks, and he worked with action programs directly benefitting the black community. From 1967 to 1969, Reddy worked as the resident manager, then as project director, of Charlotte Urban Ministry's Tenth Street Community Youth Center. Reddy also became an accomplished and versatile artist, poet, and dramatist. From 1969 to 1972 he wrote for The Charlotte Observer. He also worked with the North Carolina Cultural Arts Coalition (1978-79), the Afro-American Cultural Center in Charlotte (1979), and as a free-lance artist (1980-81). Since 1982, Reddy has been owner and operator of the Ready Art Shoppe in Charlotte. Reddy's poetry has been included in several publications, including the Red Clay Reader (1969), Southern Poetry Review (1970), A Galaxy of Black Writing (1971), The Hyperion Journal (1975), Miscellany (1974),and Eleven Charlotte Poets (1971). Two books of his poetry have been published: Less Than a Score, But a Point (1974) and Poems in One Part Harmony (1979). Reddy's graphic artwork has been displayed throughout North Carolina; and Reddy has served as consultant and coordinator of many art publications and curricula, as co-editor of Aim, A Community Arts publication (1970); and as co-author and co-director of "The Highlights of our Heritage," a presentation of African history at Johnson C. Smith University (1971). He has received the Kwanja Award for Creativity (1978) and the North Carolina Conference of Black Studies Service Award. Reddy married Vicky Minar of Charlotte in 1968. They have one daughter and reside in Charlotte. In October, 1967, T. J. Reddy, Charles Parker (resident manager, 10th Street Community Youth Center), and two others were denied the right to ride at the Lazy B Stables because of their race. When they returned with friends and the news media and demanded to ride, Parker was allowed to ride for a few minutes. On September 24, 1968, the Lazy B Stables burned, killing fifteen horses. In January, 1972, Reddy, Parker, and James Grant (civil rights activist and VISTA worker) were indicted for the burning of the stables. At the time of his arrest, Grant was also under indictment with the Rev. Ben Chavis for conspiring to smuggle two men out of the country following racial unrest in Oxford, N.C. The trial of the Charlotte Three occurred in July, 1972, with James E. Ferguson II as the defense attorney. Grant, Reddy, and Parker were convicted and sentenced to 25, 20, and 10 years respectively. Although the defense contended the testimonies of the key witnesses conflicted and the jury of eleven whites and one black was unfair, the convictions were upheld by both the state's Court of Appeals and Supreme Court. In March, 1974, The Charlotte Observer revealed the state's two key witnesses, Walter David Washington and Theodore Alfred Hood - both facing criminal charges themselves - were given secret payments, granted immunity, and placed in protective custody. The defense filed a motion in July, 1974, requesting a new trial in Mecklenburg Superior Court, and Reddy was released from jail on bond. An evidentiary hearing before Judge Sam Ervin III in December, 1974, resulted in his denial, in September, 1975, of a new trial. Appeals to the U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and the U. S. Supreme Court were all denied, and in October, 1978, Reddy returned to jail. In July, 1979, Governor Jim Hunt commuted the sentences of the Charlotte Three, and Reddy was released on paroled. The case of the Charlotte Three received national attention because of the defendants' contention that the convictions were politically motivated, which had the support of Amnesty International. Locally, the North Carolina Political Prisoners' Committee provided financial and legal support for the Charlotte Three. Additional support came from the North Carolina Civil Liberties Union and the Angela Davis National Committee to Free All Political Prisoners. T.J. Reddy died in Charlotte on March 31, 2019.
3 Linear Feet
Language of Materials
Papers of a Charlotte artist, poet, civil rights activist, and UNC Charlotte alumnus, highlighting his role as one of the Charlotte Three and his interest in the civil rights movement. Consists primarily of correspondence, legal documents, and other material concerning his controversial arrest, trial and conviction for arson; subsequent legal proceedings; and the activities of the North Carolina Political Prisoners' Committee. Also includes files on the Wilmington Ten, the North Carolina Prisoners' Labor Union, the National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, and periodicals and monographs published by left-wing and civil rights groups. Finally, the collection includes letters TJ wrote to his wife, Vicky, while in prison.
Organized into two subgroups, therein by series : Subgroup 1. Charlotte Three material : divided into six series : I. Legal documents, 1972- 1977. II. Correspondence and ephemera, 1972-1978. III. Letters of support, 1972-1978. IV. Printed material, 1967-1979. V. Robert W. Rieke correspondence, 1968-1976. VI. Biographical/professional material, 1982-1985. Subgroup 2. Civil rights issues, general : divided into seven series : I. N.C. Prisoners' labor union, 1972-1977. II. National Alliance Against Racist and Political Repression, 1972-1976. III. United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice, 1972-1977. IV. Southern Conference Educational Fund, 1971-1977. V. Wilmington 10, 1972-1977. VI. Miscellaneous material, 1972-1976. VII. Publications, 1971-1978 : divided into two subseries : 1. Periodicals, 1971- 1978, arranged alphabetically by title.|a2. Monographs, 1971-1977, arranged alphabetically by title. VIII. Letters from Prison.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of T. J. Reddy, 1982. Gift of Robert W. Rieke, 1985.
Copyright not held by UNC Charlotte Library
- T. J. Reddy papers
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States