Fireworks Show at Town Hall

There are a variety of hot topics on the the Chapel Hill Town Council agenda tonight. I won't be there in person, but I'll be watching on TV and will report semi-live on this thread as the meeting is in progress.

A few highlights:

Oh, also there's a petition "to Keep the Historic Name of Airport Road, or Consider Renaming to Ronald Reagan Boulevard." Should be interesting!



Feel free to keep going, Will. I will keep posting the comments a few at a time.


Kathleen Thompson (W/anti): Want to honor Dr. King, but not like this. Financial impact of advertising, contracts, brochures, etc.

Diane Macarthur (W/anti): Like Mayor's proposal. Airport Rd. residents have been excluded. What about the "pride and history" of those who live on Airport? Who sets the standard for compelling reasons?

Chip Foushee (W/anti): Opposes any name change (including Ronald Reagan). Owns or works at the UPS store, doesn't think this was handled well. Quoting Dr. King. It's not about race to him.

Dan Coleman (W/pro): During the civil rights movement (60's) the Public Accomodations Law came before the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen. An alternate motion was passed that the Mayor head up a committee to discuss the issue. Result: Chapel Hill never passed a public accomodations law. Justice delayed is justice denied, even if the stakes are not as high now. [Audience: amen.]

Yonni Chapman (W/pro): We need to be reminded that the values Dr. King died for should remain in our hearts. King's struggle is not won. We have not yet overcome, and are in danger of going backwards. Do we want to stand for racial justice, human rights, and peace, or not? It used ot be that the town's population was 50% black. This has dwindled over the last century, due the lack of opportunities and resources for black people. We can always use more discussion, but... Everyone who has opposed the change has been white, and none of the objections have addressed the concerns of the black community. Please vote tonight, and if you are serious then do discuss other renamings.

SPEAKERS (race/position on renaming):

John Maddry (W/anti): Has lived on Airport Rd. since before it was called Airport Rd. Changing address will be aggravating. [Have people never heard of the postal service?]

Fred Connor (W/anti): Connor Dr. (by the mall) is named for his family. Thinks a road is not enough honor for Dr. King. [ But it's good enough for the Connors! ]

Bill Shaler (B/pro): King's legacy is the black workers struggling with UNC.

Eugene Farrar (B/pro): Don't draw this out, don't put it on the back seat. Community change is coming, we can't fight it. We should be a model for other towns.

Bishop Gene Hatley (B/pro): Thanks the Mayor for asking for dialogue, but skeptical that the resolution will benefit blak people. has had his address changed 3 times and was never invited to "dialogue" about it. It *is* a racial issue. Shout out to the free-standing Sonya Hanes Stone Black Cultural Center [woot!] and how divisive it was in the community. The NAACP has 127 (not 9) members. Vote tonight. [Lots of applause.]

Garland King (B/pro): Chapel Hill is great place to live. Many black families have been here for several generations. They have labored without compensation. This *is* about race. Dr. King wasn't just a black liberator, he was a liberator for America and for the world. If anyone deserves this honor, it is him. Compare to how folks woudl respond to renaming for Ronald Reagan?

Midred Council (B/pro): There can't be a building big enough for Dr. King's name. People came on all the streets a across town to marck for civil rights. The struggle wasn't for a building, but for what was in it. Please don't name a building after him. She quotes Margaret Thatcher on Reagan: "he did it all without a gun."

Charles Carver (W/anti): Presents a petition for "preserving Airport Rd." and passing Edith Wiggins' compromise to dedicate (rather than rename) the road and dedicate a wing of the library. [Applause and whistles. Mayor objects.]

Melissa Langford (W/anti): Likes the Mayor's proposal. No-one being impacted by the change has been consulted. [What about the ones speaking tonight?] Thinks she's a victim. Objects to Cam's statement in the paper yesterday. She's not a racist.


I'm starting to get it - is Ruby's own news broadcast except she's both producer and commentator.



If that's really my dad, he is up late! He is 5 time zones ahead of us.

First up, the MLK issue.

So much for fireworks. So far there's a crowd but it isn't crowdded.

Ceremonies are out of the way, and the Mayor is now explaining that he has another alternate proposal on the Airport Road renaming. He says he is convinced that renaming Airport Road is a good way to honor Dr. King, but that he is surprised at the community's reaction to the renaming. He says this is an opportunity to open community debate on race.

The Mayor wants to not decide tonight, but to initiate a dialogue. (Yes, it's Chapel Hill, we like to talk.)

Ruby, I don't know if you picked up on this, but when Mayor Foy cut-off the first speaker there was quite a stir in the audience. I heard one older woman on the back row say ' rude!'

A number in the audience nodded in agreement when the second speaker suggested naming the next high school after Dr. King as a a real tribute.

The next two speakers were really dynamic. Lots of amens. I love how the second speaker asked if there'd be the same resistance if the proposal was to rename it Ronald Reagan Blvd. The groan was near subsonic! Hilarious!

Hope I haven't eaten up too much bandwidth. Last post until the ethics discussion (if you're interested).



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