Built in 1956, this house’s first owner-occupants were Bernice Bullock and her husband Lawrence, a bellman at the Mecklenburg Hotel. In a neighborhood of impressive women, Bernice Martin Richardson Bullock was notable both for her own achievements as a college administrator at Bethune Cookman College and JCSU and also as mother to three daughters who became closely involved in local and national Civil Rights efforts: Dr. Annie Richardson who headed the National Institute of Science, Catherine Hawkins whose husband Dr. Reginald Hawkins became Charlotte’s most outspoken and effective Civil Rights crusader, and Emily Ivory, whose family led Civil Rights efforts in Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Bernice Martin (1903 – 1967) grew up around JCSU where her father James D. Martin was among the early African American professors. He bought land just below the campus and built his house there, giving his name to Martin Street. Professor Martin evidently was not one to shy away from Civil Rights activism. Late in life he would join physician and McCrorey Heights homeowner Dr. Roy S. Wynn in filing a lawsuit in state court in 1961 to block construction of Carver College. The suit, unsuccessful, charged that using tax dollars to build a black school violated Supreme Court rulings.
Young Bernice attended Charlotte public schools, then went off to Scotia Seminary in nearby Concord to complete highschool. Returning to JCSU she graduated cum laude in mathematics — then an unusual field for a woman — and social studies.
After college she served as Dean of Women at Bethune Cookman College in Florida, then returned to Johnson C. Smith where she worked as “dietician” — likely in charge of the campus food facilities. Along the way she married Paul H. Richardson. In 1924 the New York Age — an African American newspaper that occasionally printed bits of news from Charlotte — wrote “The Rev. L.B. West and Paul H. Richardson have completed fine houses in the Biddleville section. Mr. Richardson presented his bungalow, at 625 Beatty Avenue, to his wife.” Charlotte city directories listed Richardson as __________, and in 1932 noted that he served as Commander of the Charlotte chapter of the national black fraternal organization American Woodmen.
The couple had three children: Dr. Annie L. Richardson, Catherine Richardson Hawkins and Emily Richardson Ivory. Each made a mark on the mid-century South.
Daughter Annie Richardson took a key role in the National Institute of Science. It was one of many such groups begun during segregation by African Americans who were excluded by white professional associations. When the Civil Rights era brought integration, Dr. Richardson helped NIS re-invent itself as a mentoring and networking organization. According to an official history:
“In 1970, Dr. Annie L. Richardson of Norfolk State University was elected the Executive Secretary, and devoted the rest of her life to restore the National Institute of Science to a viable organization. She was an energetic and dedicated teacher who recognized the need and value of such organizations to students and teachers. It was during her tenure as Executive Secretary that the membership grew from a low of 58 to over 400 members…..The death of Dr. Annie Richardson in 1983 was a severe blow to her family, friends and to NIS. She had dedicated a major part of her life with unbounded energy, enthusiasm and hard work to the advancement of her students and of the NIS.”
Daughter Catherine Richardson married Reginald Hawkins, a JCSU student leader noted both for his prowess as a CIAA-champion wrestler and also for his scholarly achievements — which won him a degree in dental medicine from Howard University. Catherine provided familial support as Dr. Hawkins became Charlotte’s most outspoken Civil Rights agitator during the 1950s and 1960s. His tenacious marches and speeches spurred the desegregation of Charlotte’s airport in 1956, its upscale restaurants in 1963 and its hospitals around 1965. In 1966 Reginald and Catherine Hawkins signed on as the second plaintiffs in the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case Swann v. Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools (decided 1971), in which attorney Julius Chambers won the ruling that opened the way nationally for busing to achieve racial integration.
Daughter Emily Richardson (9.11.1925 – 8.24.2008) wed Cecil R. Ivory, who was Reginald Hawkins’ college roommate and lifelong fraternity brother (Kappa Alpha Psi). Rev. Ivory became a minister in Rock Hill, South Carolina, just over the state line from Charlotte. He led Hermon Presbyterian Church, the city’s largest and most active congregation, and also headed the local NAACP chapter. He was involved in numerous protests, from organizing a city-wide boycott of segregated buses in 1957, to aiding students at Friendship Junior College who made national headlines with the “Jail, No Bail” sit-in strategy, to welcoming the Freedom Ride in 1961 — where rider John Lewis was beaten at the Rock Hill bus station. Rev. Ivory did all this while confined to a wheelchair, the result of a 1956 accident. In 1960 JET Magazine memorably reported on his unsuccessful attempt to be served at a Rock Hill lunch counter while sitting in his wheelchair; he argued that he was violating no laws since he was not sitting on one of the segregated counter stools. Emily Ivory had a lifelong career as a teacher, first in Rock Hill and Charlotte, then in Los Angeles where she moved after Cecil’s early death. Cecil and Emily’s son Cecil Jr. became an attorney and later Judge in New York City, while son Titus gained national notice as a college athlete and then became a banker and civic leader in the Charlotte area.
After Paul Richardson passed away, Bernice courted Lawrence Bullock (d. 1967) of Asheville in the North Carolina mountains. When they married in 1956 he moved down to Charlotte. They decided to build a new house of their own in the McCrorey Heights section near campus that year. At the same time, Mrs. Bullock stepped up into the position of Dietician at JCSU, directing the food service operations. She served until she retired in 1965.
Bernice Bullock also took leadership roles in the community. She served as treasurer for ten years at First United Presbyterian Church in the center city and was elected to be its first female elder. She was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and at her death was Tamiochous — the Greek word for financial secretary — of the Charlotte chapter.
Ranch. 1-story, red brick. Gable-roof of the main block has its gable-end toward the street. A hip-roofed side block includes a front carport. Prominent stone front chimney. The dwelling is more complex than most ranch houses in McCrorey Heights, which tend to be simple rectangular boxes with the long side toward the street.
Date: September 20, 1955
Owner: Mrs. Paul Richardson
Contractor: G.C. Holmes
Other info: Build residence
Air conditioner 1976
June 5, 1963. Remodel residence. Owner: Mrs. Bernice M. Bullock. Wills Construction.
Building permit files, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Bullock, Bernice, funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Ivory, Cecil Jr., funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Ivory, Emily Funeral program in the History Room, First United Presbyterian Church, Charlotte.
Ivory, Titus, funeral program in the Obituary Project notebooks, African American Genealogy Interest Group collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
First appeared in city directory
1957 – Lawrence H. Bullock & Bernice M.
He: Bellman, Mecklenburg Hotel. She: Dietician, JCSU
City directory collection, Robinson-Spangler Carolina Room, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.
Jamal Brown, “Arkadelphia Native Part of South Carolina Civil Rights Movement.” Siftings Herald. February 24, 2015. On-line at: http://www.siftingsherald.com/article/20150223/News/150229916
Shelbert Smith, “A History of the National Institute of Science (1943 – 1993),” Transactions of the National Institute of Science, Spring 2001. On-line at: http://www.nationalinstituteofscience.org/NIS%20History-Shelby%20Smith-TRANSACTIONS%202001.pdf
Wynn v Trustees of Charlotte Community College System. 122 S.E.2d 404 (N.C. 1961). On-line at: https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/1336914/wynn-v-trustees-of-charlotte-community-college-sys/