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May 18, 1963: A Durham’s Civil Rights Story

Program: Just Friends That You Never Knew: A Personal and Historical Glance at Durham’s Integration of Public Facilities
Date: Saturday, May 18
Time: 3 p.m.
Location: Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St.
Cost: Free and open to the public

About: Durham County Library and St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation will host a program commemorating Durham’s May 1963 civil rights activities. The event, entitled “Just Friends You Never Knew: A Personal and Historical Glance at Durham’s Integration of Public Facilities,” will be held at 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 18, at Hayti Heritage Center, 804 Old Fayetteville St.

Judge Willis Whichard, a Durham native, historian, and former North Carolina state representative, senator, appellate court judge and Supreme Court justice will host the event.

In the South, 1963 was a watershed year for civil rights activity, and Durham was very much a part of the action. On May 18 mass demonstrations erupted across town, and civil rights leaders called for 30 days of protests. Elected the same day the demonstrations began, Mayor Wensell Grabarek, in an unprecedented move, asked to speak at a rally scheduled for May 21 at St. Joseph’s AME Church. Speaking to the large crowd, he promised to take steps to respond to the demonstrators’ complaints. Over the next few months, the “Durham Interim Committee,” appointed by Grabarek, facilitated the end of segregation at most of Durham’s restaurants, hotels, movie theaters and many other facilities.

This program, which takes place on the same day and at the same place as the 1963 demonstration, will include brief comments from Mayor Bill Bell and County Commission Vice-chair Brenda Howerton and a reception afterwards. Participants in the actions that led to the desegregation of Durham restaurants, motels, swimming pools and other facilities in 1963 are especially invited to attend and stand up and be recognized for their contribution.

This event is co-sponsored by Durham County Library and St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. For more information, contact Lynn Richardson, 919- 560-0171.

Durham County Library encourages Discovery, connects the Community and leads in Literacy. As a department of Durham County Government, the library furthers Goal 1 of the county’s Strategic Plan by enhancing cultural, educational and creative opportunities. For more information about the library, visit durhamcountylibrary.org

CONTACT: Gina Rozier
919-560-0151 or grozier@dconc.gov

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