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NCCU intern assists in Ernie Barnes exhibit
Published Wednesday, July 11, 2018
by Staff Reports

North Carolina Central elementary education student Taneya Thompson is spending her summer at the North Carolina Museum of History. Alongside the museum’s curators, Thompson contributed to the creation of “The North Carolina Roots of Artist Ernie Barnes” exhibit, which opened on June 29 and showcases original paintings and artifacts of distinguished NCCU alumnus Ernie Barnes.

Thirty-seven oil and acrylic paintings with colors, including hues of blue, red and orange, adorn the walls of the museum’s third floor. The infamous “lady in the yellow dress,” depicted in a number of Barnes’ paintings, can be found in the acclaimed painting inspired by a dance at the Durham Armory, “The Sugar Shack.” The painting was featured on R&B singer Marvin Gaye’s “I Want You” album cover and during the closing credits of the ‘70s television show “Good Times.” Also included in the exhibit are 20 of Barnes’ artifacts, including his brushes and painting palette.

As an intern for the museum, Thompson is exploring the legacy of Barnes among other responsibilities. Recently, she developed “Fred’s Finds,” a blend of interesting facts, for the newly-opened exhibit.

“Ernie Barnes is a great artist; his paintings display a certain recognizable style or theme,” Thompson said. “Researching his life and accomplishments while also learning new things about his paintings is exciting. It has been a very interesting internship.”

Barnes, a Durham native, began his football career at Hillside High School. Blocked letters he earned as a football player during his tenure are also included in the exhibit. After receiving numerous scholarship offers, Barnes chose to play football for NCCU in 1956, where former art professor Ed Wilson influenced his love of painting.

Barnes’ influence at NCCU is still prevalent today. His painting, “The Advocate,” was donated to the School of Law in 1998 by Donna Arnold in memory of her late husband Danny. It hangs in the school’s library. 

Upon graduation, Thompson, a Phenix City, Alabama, native, hopes for a career as a second-grade teacher with Teach for America. Her aspirations also include furthering her education to eventually become a superintendent.

The Barnes family will honor the artist’s 80th birthday with a celebration featuring the Marching Sound Machine on July 15, 3 to 5 p.m., in the H.M. Michaux Jr. School of Education Building Auditorium, 700 Cecil Street on NCCU’s campus.


The university’s application for deferment of its loans with the Historically Black College and University Capital Financing Program has been approved by the U. S. Department of Education. SAU is one of eight private HBCUs to benefit from the announcement. 

The deferment temporarily postpones all principal and interest payments for six years. In the letter received by university administrators, payments made for the period of Oct. 1, 2017, through June 30 of this year will be refunded, totaling a little over $1.1 million.  The announcement brings welcomed relief to the university, as it continues to improve its financial stability and institutional controls. 

“We are grateful that Congresswoman Alma Adams (N.C.) and Republican Congressman Ted Budd (N.C.) continue to advocate for our institutions,” President Everett B. Ward said. “This landmark decision not only supports higher education, but this decision preserves the educational opportunities for our students.” 

Officials with the United Negro College Fund, noting the burden of the payments on its member institutions, worked with bipartisan partners at a hurried pace to have language empowering the Secretary of Education with the authority to grant loan deferment with a $10 million appropriation added to the FY 2018 Omnibus Appropriations Law, which was signed into law by President Trump in March. 

The HBCU Capital Finance program is popular among HBCUs and has been helpful in building some much-needed facilities on HBCU campuses. Some institutions, however, have found it difficult to make the payments to service their debts due to the 2008 economic downturn and the slide in HBCU enrollment directly related to the change in requirements to the Parent Plus Loan Program, a federal student loan program available to the parents of dependent undergraduate students. 



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