Reflection on Christmas Day
“How good it is that, in this big, busy, hustling world, there is one day in the long calendar of the year when all of us, by common consent, close our book of complaints against the management of the universe, and join our hearts and voices in one grand brotherhood [and sisterhood] anthem, ‘Peace on Earth, Good-Will to [All].’ At such a time, it seems to me, one’s friends seem nearer, friendship dearer, and love more real. At any rate this is the way I feel about it, and I want to tell you so, because I want you to know that I value your friendship. And this personal thought, this friendly feeling, and interest in you, is not only for today, but will be with me in the days that are to follow and I shall always wish you happiness.”
Written sometime between 1902 and 1915, this Christmas thought was sent by James B. Dudley to James Y. Joyner. James Dudley, born as a slave to a former governor, would become one of the most important and influential black educators in North Carolina. He was President of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University from 1896 until his death in 1925. The James B. Dudley High School in Greensboro, where the Agricultural and Technical University is located, was named after him in recognition of his work for his community. The recipient of the note, James Y. Joyner, served as the state superintendent of public schools in the early 1900s. Joyner, born during the Civil War, was orphaned at the age of two. He grew up in Lenoir County under the watchful eye of his grandfather, a prominent planter and influential Democrat. He would become one of the most important and leading white educators in North Carolina, first as an instructor and later as an administrator.