Ruth Revels, a longtime American Indian activist and an educator, passed away on Monday, March 14. She was 79.
She is a former North Carolina Arts Council Board member.
“Ruth Revels advocated tirelessly throughout her life to recognize and promote the arts of North Carolina’s Native American communities,” said Wayne Martin, Executive Director of the North Carolina Arts Council. “We are extremely grateful for her service to our state.”
Revels was a Lumbee Indian born in Robeson County. She and her late husband, Lonnie Revels, fought against racism. Lonnie Revels, who died in 2003, was a former Greensboro City Councilman and a stretch of Freeman Mill Road is named “Lonnie Revels Greenway” to honor his work in ending discrimination.
Revels taught at Ragsdale High for 14 years. She left the classroom in 1977 to help create and run the Guilford Native American Association. Governor Pat McCrory was one of her former students. She “was one of those teachers at Ragsdale High School who had a lasting impact and influence on me,” Gov. McCrory said in a statement released Monday afternoon. “I will always remember her smile and the sparkle in her eye. I have lost a very special friend.”
Ruth Revels was a 1958 graduate of Pembroke State College, what is now UNC-Pembroke. In a news release, Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings, a cousin of Revels’, described her as a tireless supporter of the university. “UNC-Pembroke had no finer advocate than Ruth Revels,” Cummings said. “As she fought to protect and honor the university’s heritage, Ruth became an important figure in its history. We mourn her passing but celebrate her lasting contributions to UNCP and American Indian causes throughout North Carolina.”
In 2013, McCrory appointed Revels as chairwoman of the state Commission of Indian Affairs.
Arrangements are pending at Revels Funeral Home in Pembroke, http://www.revelsfh.com/index.php