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Friday February 3rd

Over 1,200 vinyl records of one the first Black students at UNC to be donated to NCCU

A plaque gifted to LeRoy Frasier, which displays a News & Observer article about Frasier, sits in the garage of his nephew, Ira Cox, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Frasier, his brother Ralph and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate UNC in 1955.
Buy Photos A plaque gifted to LeRoy Frasier, which displays a News & Observer article about Frasier, sits in the garage of his nephew, Ira Cox, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. Frasier, his brother Ralph and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate UNC in 1955.

The extensive music collection of LeRoy Frasier, one the first Black students at UNC, will be donated to N.C. Central University. 

LeRoy Frasier's vinyl collection sits in the garage of his nephew, Ira Cox, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. The collection will soon be donated to North Carolina Central University's archives in honor of Frasier, who passed on Dec. 29, 2017. Frasier, his brother Ralph and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate UNC in 1955.


LeRoy Frasier, who died in 2017, attended UNC in 1955 alongside his brother, Ralph Frasier. The brothers previously attended Hillside High School in Durham alongside John Lewis Brandon.   

A federal court judge reversed the University's initial decision to reject the admission of LeRoy Frasier, Ralph Frasier and Brandon so that they could attend. Four Black students had been previously admitted to UNC's School of Law, but no Black undergraduate students had been accepted at the time.

Leroy Frasier, John Lewis Brandon and Ralph Frasier pictured on the steps of South Building after completing court-ordered registration on Sept. 17, 1955.
 Photo Courtesy of The Frasier Family/North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives, Wilson Library, UNC-Chapel Hill.


Both brothers left UNC after three years of attendance — Ralph Frasier left for the Army and LeRoy Frasier left for the Peace Corps. They both later graduated from NCCU, a historically Black university.

Ira Cox, LeRoy Frasier's nephew, said LeRoy Frasier collected more than just music. He also had hundreds of books on topics ranging from different types of jazz to histories.

LeRoy Frasier's vinyl collection sits in the garage of his nephew, Ira Cox, on Thursday, Oct. 20, 2022. The collection will soon be donated to North Carolina Central University's archives in honor of Frasier, who passed on Dec. 29, 2017. Frasier, his brother Ralph and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate UNC in 1955.


Andre Vann, the coordinator of university archives and public history instructor at NCCU,  said there are over 1,200 records in the collection.

“We would call it the breath and death of not just jazz, but classical music,” Vann said.

Gillian Frasier, LeRoy Frasier’s wife, said her husband loved music.

LeRoy and Gillian Frasier pictured at a family event in 2005. Photo Courtesy of The Frasier Family.


“Music was very very important to him,” she said. “Throughout his life, he always needed to have music on.”

Gillian Frasier said she first met LeRoy Frasier in Malawi when he was in the Peace Corps and she was a volunteer from Great Britain.          

While there, she said LeRoy Frasier and his roommate would spend their time learning the words of the music of many vocalists through vinyl records. 

Since he was young, Gillian Frasier said, LeRoy Frasier had been collecting different forms of music — including albums, reel-to-reel tapes and CDs. She said he would also catalog his music to keep up with it.

“He, from his early teens, had fallen for jazz music, and you know that’s where his primary interest was, and throughout most of his life it continued,” she said.

She said when they first got married, they would go to jazz clubs together every week. Although she would sometimes fall asleep, he was always alert and listening.    

When others were talking, she said she could tell when he would be paying attention to the music instead.   

Her husband had many liked artists, but Miles Davis was most important to him, she said. 

A portrait of jazz musician Miles Davis, taken by LeRoy Frasier, currently resides in the home office of Ira William Cox, Frasier's nephew. Frasier, his brother Ralph and John Lewis Brandon were the first undergraduate students to integrate UNC in 1955.


After her husband’s death, Gillian Frasier said she offered his record collection to Cox, but he decided that something more needed to be done with it.  

“I woke up one day and said, 'You know, I bet there’s some students who would want to listen to this music'," Cox said.

Cox said since LeRoy Frasier’s family history is centered around NCCU, he thought the school would be the perfect place for the collection.  

“I began to think about where it should live,” Cox said. "I thought about Chapel Hill, but then I thought further into his roots where he grew up, which was literally blocks away from North Carolina Central.”

Vann said that NCCU is a good place for the memorial archive since it has always focused on music and liberal arts.

NCCU has a music library, which is where LeRoy Frasier’s records will be stored. Vann said he and his colleague plan to elevate the collection so that students can see and listen to it.

The move guarantees that LeRoy Frasier's love and passion for music lives on, Cox said. 

He said he wants the students to be able to hear what people heard on vinyl throughout time.

“The goal is to have the collection live eternally and be a resource for music students to have access to,” he said.

Vann said work will be underway at NCCU over the next few weeks. There is no set date for when the collection will be finalized and set up.

@sierrapresident

@DTHCityState | city@dailytarheel.com


 

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