‘She brought noise, but it was quiet:’ Kinston mural remembers community advocates like Alice Hannibal

Womens History

KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) — The seventh and final painting in Kinston’s downtown mural project is underway.

As the artists paint, they want people to know more about the women and men of color.

“She brought noise, but it was quiet,” said artist Maner Nobles. “When she spoke, she got your attention.”

The three artists painting a mural on Queen Street are thinking of one man, but especially one woman who fought to change Kinston. They’re thinking of Alice Hannibal.

“When you look around at the leadership in Kinston, you will see a lot of her influence in women who are holding positions of responsibility and authority,” said Charles Hannibal, an artist on the project and Alice’s youngest son.

“I do not think the community appreciated her for what she did and what she’s done for the community.”

The artists are hoping to change that.

“Black people, we’ve always been taught to stay in your lane,” said Nobles.

But, not Alice.

“Alice didn’t stay in her lane, no,” said Nobles. “Alice made her lane.”

Nobles met Alice Hannibal when she was a young girl. She remembers her as a classy woman, someone she wanted to grow up to be.

“It was refreshing to see someone willing to work for change,” said Nobles.

Alice was the first woman and the first African-American elected to Kinston’s city council. She was born in 1916. Her husband, who is also featured in the mural, was the only African-American doctor in the area at the time.

Alice taught people of color how to read and write in the middle of the night. She even staged lunch counter sit-ins during the civil rights movement.

“My mother received threats, threats against her and against the family,” said Hannibal.

Those threats, came from the Ku Klux Klan.

“It was like having our own personal savior, we had our Harriet Tubman from that area,” said Nobles.

Choci Gray is the mural creator. She said she never got to meet Alice in person but she feels her impact every day.

“The seeds she planted in the community, they are being developed and blossoming right now as we speak,” said Gray.

Time moves on, and those seeds continue to grow.

“I like the idea that things have changed, but the more things change the more they stay the same,” said Hannibal.

These artists recognize there’s still a lot of work to be done.

“Some of the things she was working towards are still things people of color are working for,” said Hannibal.

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