African-American Representation on the Chapel Hill Town Council

Whether it is by accident or amounts to a local tradition, the Chapel Hill Town Council has had African-American representation continuously ever since the election of Hubert Robinson in 1953.  Since that time, R. D. Smith, Bill Thorpe, Roosevelt Wilkerson, Barbara Booth Powell, Edith Wiggins and Jim Merritt have maintained a continuous presence on the Council. 

Peace for Yonni

Many of you know that local civil rights activist and historian Yonni Chapman has been struggling with cancer. Last night he peacefully ended that battle. Here's part of the touching e-mail that his daughters Sandi and Joyce sent out last night:

Yonni lived his life for The Struggle but has spent the last 29 years with his own intense struggle to live with cancer. His struggle is over, but our struggle continues and what he would want from all of us is to use his passing to renew our commitment to justice, equality and to each other as sisters and brothers. We'd like a few days just to be on our own so we probably won't be answering the phone right away. We'll be organizing a celebration of his life and will contact you all as soon as that plan is made. For now, please just send him your best wishes to speed him on his way home.

Yonni gave so much of himself to this community, and I have no doubt that we are a more just and equitable place because of it. I also think I'm a better person for having been poked, prodded, enlightened, and inspired by his work. 

Instead of the Southern Part of Heaven how about the Southern Part of Nowhere Special

History. For some, the mere suggestion of the topic instantly glazes over the eyes and makes the lids heavy. It's a fact that most of us have been taught history the wrong way. But the past can be a very interesting tool if you know how to use it. Through peering backwards one can discover who we are and it can be an important tool measure the future.

My job is to try and save Chapel Hill's historic places, which is no easy task. There are special buildings, homes, fields, and rocks in this town that embody a past that makes this town unique and downright cool. They are the physical manifestations of our history. But trying to appeal to the "better angels of our nature" about the importance of preserving history often falls on deaf ears. Chapel Hill is certainly progressive but it is not progressive about saving its past.   

I submit for discussion an ordinance the Preservation Society is trying to persuade the Town of Chapel Hill to adopt.


I remember the disappointing results in key elections in 1993, when Democrats, fresh off a tremendous Presidential victory in 1992 became complacent and Republican activists got upset and activated.  New Jersey’s incumbent Democratic Governor, Jim Florio was knocked out of office.  That same year, Republicans seized control of the Virginia Governor’s Mansion, bringing us George “Macaca” Allen. 

2009 Town Treasures recognition

From Chapel Hill Magazine's blog:

For the second consecutive year, the Chapel Hill Historical Society will bestow the title of “Town Treasure” upon 12 individuals and couples who have made their mark on our town’s history.

Among this year’s class are a UNC basketball legend, a dairy farmer, two gardeners, two former mayors, the first president of the National Association of Black Journalists and a former UNC chancellor. Many of them will attend a public reception at the Chapel Hill Museum on Oct. 15 at 5:30pm, where they will be recognized by Mayor Kevin Foy. An exhibit featuring text from interviews with the honorees and photos of them taken by award-winning photographer Catharine Carter will be on display at the museum through the fall and will then move to its permanent location at the Seymour Senior Center.



Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 1:30pm


Chapel Hill Museum, at the intersection of East Franklin and North Boundary Streets in Chapel Hill



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