Chapel Hill gets a historic marker for the first freedom ride

[1947 freedom riders]Did you know that the first civil rights "freedom ride" took place in 1947, fourteen years before the 1961 riders captured the nation's attention by exposing the brutality of Jim Crow in the South? The Journey of Reconciliation was organized by the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), which was born at the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), and was led by FOR staff members Bayard Rustin and George Houser.

The interracial group of nine men on the Journey of Reconciliation set out from Washington, D.C. on April 9th, 1947. They met some resistance from passengers and drivers on buses in Virginia and North Carolina. But when they attempted to sit at the front of a bus in Chapel Hill on April 12th, the driver refused, and removed some of the riders by force. They were then attacked by angry cab drivers at the Chapel Hill bus station, and arrested by local police. Their subsequent time serving on a chain gang led Rustin to write about the experience. His serialized journal led to major reforms in the North Carolina prison system.

Because We're Still Here (and Moving)

Last night my wife and I attended a remarkable play about the history of Chapel Hill. The play is called, Because We’re Still Here (and Moving). It runs through February 17th at the Kenan Theatre, an extension of the Paul Green Theatre.

The play is a collection of stories about African Americans whose families have been a part of Chapel Hill for over 150 years. The play weaves together many fragments of oral history in a very moving and creative way. I learned a lot about the proud history of the black community in Chapel Hill that I had not heard before. I also heard appalling family stories about slavery and racism in Chapel Hill that are a sad part of our community’s shared history.

I was particularly interested in stories about Lincoln High School (now the Lincoln Center). I have lived here for many years but, I was unaware of the history of achievement and community pride that surrounded Lincoln High School. I hope many people will get a chance to see this excellent play.

Michael B. Owen

Screening "You Don't Have to Ride Jim Crow" & discussion of local civil rights history

Co-organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP, this event will feature one of the creators of the 1995 documentary "You Don't have to Ride Jim Crow," as well as discussion about historic civil rights activism in Chapel Hill. 

Reception at 7:00, film at 7:30.


Thursday, February 26, 2009 - 2:00pm


Horace Williams House, 610 E. Rosemary Street, Chapel Hill

Journey of Reconciliation historic marker unveiling

Saturday, Feb 28:

February 28 Freedom Rider State Highway
Marker Programs And Unveiling Ceremony
Opening Program at Hargraves Recreation Center
NAACP President, Eugene Farrar—Welcome
1947 Freedom Rider, George Hauser—Welcome
Rev. Charles Jones Granddaughter, Karen Abbotts--Welcome
UNC-NOW—Performance Re-enactment of 1947 Freedom Ride in Chapel Hill
Freedom Riders Essay Contest Awards Presentation
March to Dedication Site at Rosemary and Columbia
Signs and Banners, Chants, Song, Photo Boards
Dedication and Unveiling Ceremony
NAACP President, Eugene Farrar—Dedication program
Fred Battle—Unveiling
Town Hall Reception and Program
Cj Suitt—Spoken Word
Tim Tyson—Background and Perspective on 1947 Journey of Reconciliation
Filmmakers Robin Washington and Julia Cheng—DVD, “You Don’t Have to Ride
Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP  
Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist

Partner Organizations
Town of Chapel Hill

Additional events on Thursday, Feb. 26:
5:30 at Sonja Hanes Stone Center.
7:00 at Horace Williams House, organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation and the Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP.

More info and context on the week's events at http://www.orangepolitics.org/2009/02/chapel-hill-gets-a-historic-marker-for-the-first-freedom-ride


Saturday, February 28, 2009 - 7:00am to 11:00am


Hargraves Center & Chapel Hill Town Hall

Roland Giduz remembered

Former Chapel Hill journalist and elected official Roland Giduz died this weekend at age 83. He lived much of Chapel Hill's history for the past half-century, including playing a part in the battle over integration.  In the 1964 he supported white business owners who wanted to keep things separate, and in 1969 he ran against Howard Lee for Mayor. But in 2008, he said he was "appalled" to have supported segregation.



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