North Carolina

Lazy Afternoon Reruns: “The Summer of ’76”

I would probably never have noticed the story of Sandra Dupree and Harry Lee Dickens, Jr. but for a brief write-up on it that appeared in a July 1976 issue of Jet magazine, right next to the story I was looking for: another brief write-up about the killing of Bernard Whitehurst, Jr. in Montgomery, Alabama.

In the summer of 1976, as the nation’s bicentennial celebration was at high tide, the people of the small town of Scotland Neck, North Carolina had a racially charged killing to think about instead. In March of that year, a thirty-four-year-old white woman named Sandra Dupree, who was a mother of four and the wife of the local Free Will Baptist minister, had shot a twenty-one-year-old black man, Harry Lee Dickens, Jr., in the back (or the back of the head). Dickens died a few days later.

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