Black Mooresville: The Untold Story to Premiere February 11, 2023

As the Town of Mooresville celebrates 150 years, a new documentary is giving an inside look at the Black community in Mooresville then and now and the integral roles they’ve played along the way. Black Mooresville: The Untold Story documents memories of current residents, oral histories, photographs, and events over the last 150 years. It premieres February 11 at the Charles Mack Citizen Center (215 N. Main Street).

NAACP President Reverend Curtis Johnson approached the Mooresville Public Library in the summer of 2022 with the idea to take a deep dive into the history of Black residents in our community. The 150 History Town Committee endorsed the idea and by September 2022, interested community members joined Rev. Johnson at the Heritage House to kick off the project. 

The four-month process has been a labor of love for those involved, including Sharnetta Clark-Gordon. She coordinated interviews, worked with residents to feel comfortable and heard during interviews, provided voice overs for some of the documentary, and will be the co-emcee of the documentary premiere event on February 11. Clark-Gordon believes the documentary will showcase the Black Community’s culture and history that most people do not know about.

“I was told there was no record of Black history for Mooresville. This is going to be life-changing for some because they’re getting to tell their story,” said Clark-Gordon. “I was just excited to be part of it and have learned a lot, some I knew nothing about. I’ve learned things about my family as well.”

Rev. Johnson asked the Mooresville-native to be part of the documentary because of her active role in the community, including emceeing local NAACP events and being the spokesperson for the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Breakfast event. Clark-Gordon says this documentary gave many longtime residents the chance to tell their stories, their successes, and the changes they’ve seen since the Town became incorporated on March 3, 1873.  

“Our stories matter. Black lives matter. We’re proud to be able to share it and hope those who see it take some proud and change their mind about things they thought about themselves,” said Clark-Gordon. 

Part of the documentary dives into segregation in Mooresville. For example, in the 50s and 60s, white people were allowed to sit downstairs at the local theater, but black people were forced to sit upstairs. 

“There’s also a restaurant called Sally’s where Black people had to go in the back door,” said Clark-Gordon. “But (Dunbar School) Principal N.F. Woods ate up front until they found out he wasn’t white. There’s also the history of Dunbar and the culture. There’s going to be some information that people didn’t know.”

While digging through those years, Clark-Gordon quickly realized she had the same high school biology teacher as her mother. Miss Margie Carrouthers (later Mrs. Byers) was recruited from Barber Scotia College to teach at Mooresville High School. She lived at a home along West Moore Avenue, which Clark-Gordon says is still there today. 

The documentary also features local radio host Vivian Brandon, who has worked at radio station WHIP for more than 45 years. 
“She talked about how she used to have to carry records there. Now she just has to press a button,” said Clark-Gordon. “She’s in her 70s now and serves the entire Mooresville community. Now she gets to be part of this forever.”

Clark-Gordon stressed this document is for “everyone, not just the Black community. It’s for the entire Town.”

Black Mooresville: The Untold Story documentary is directed and produced by the Iredell County Television’s Shawn Eckles with narrators Reverend Curtis Johnson, Reverend Gavin Gabriel, and Sharnetta Clark-Gordon. The documentary premieres February 11 at 2 p.m. at the Charles Mack Citizen Center. The premiere is free to attend and will include guest speakers, memorabilia, and time for fellowship.

If you cannot attend the premiere, the film in its entirety as well as individual interviews and many of the photographs will be available on the Mooresville Public Library’s website, under the Local History and Archives digital exhibits collection.