This article is part of a large series established by the Niner Times news section in order to celebrate UNC Charlotte’s influential Black alumni.
Thomas James Reddy, known as T.J. Reddy, is a UNC Charlotte alumnus who helped in founding the University's Black Student Union and Africana Studies Department. The Department of Africana Studies staff page remembers him as "an African American Social Realist painter who constructs mixed media paintings with acrylics and natural materials" and a "creator and coordinator of murals and public art projects." He was also known for his poetry, political activism and membership in the Charlotte Three alongside Charles Parker and Jim Grant, who were all charged with arson of the Lazy B stables. Reddy was sentenced to 20 years in prison and later had his sentence commuted.
Reddy was born in Savannah, Ga., on June 8, 1945, and died on March 31, 2019, in Charlotte, North Carolina. According to the Biographical/Historical section in the Reddy papers, he was a poet consultant and an associate editor of the arts magazine, Three. He also won the LeGette Blythe Creative Writing Award in 1969. Reddy published two poetry books, Less Than a Score, But a Point in 1974 and Poems in One Part Harmony in 1979. He received the Kwanja Award for Creativity in 1978 and the North Carolina Conference of Black Studies Service Award.
Reddy transferred to UNC Charlotte in 1967 from Johnson C. Smith University and graduated in 1974 with a B.A. in history and sociology and a Master's Degree in Education in 1977. Reddy assisted in founding the Black Student Union (BSU) and what was then called the African and Afro-American Studies Department at UNC Charlotte. In an oral interview conducted in 2004 by Lois Stickell, Reddy recalled when the BSU issued ten demands for the university administration and raised their black flag on the campus flagpole.
According to the Biographical/Historical section in the Reddy papers, while at Charlotte, Reddy participated in the Civil Rights Movement, protesting the Vietnam War and specifically the U.S. government's recruiting methods by distributing anti-draft leaflets. He also protested segregation and racial inequality.
Reddy was featured on the Storied Charlotte webpage on June 6, 2020 by Mark West. On July 20, 2017, UNC Charlotte held an opening reception for T. J. Reddy as a way to honor him and display his art exhibition "Everything is Everything." After Reddy's death, UNC Charlotte held a virtual event to celebrate the life of T.J. Reddy. A recording of the evening is posted on this webpage.