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Town of Chapel Hill to Unveil Marker Dedicated to Local Civil Rights Heroes

  • Date: 02/28/2020 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM  
  • Location: Chapel Hill Nine Commemorative Marker
    450 West Franklin Street
    Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27514
  • Introduction: On Sunday, February 28, 1960, nine young men from Chapel Hill's all-black Lincoln High School sat at a booth in the Colonial Drug Store and sought the same service that was given to white customers. Their courageous step led to their arrest and sparked a decade of direct-action civil rights demonstr
On Sunday, February 28, 1960, nine young men from Chapel Hill's all-black Lincoln High School sat at a booth in the Colonial Drug Store and sought the same service that was given to white customers. Their courageous step led to their arrest and sparked a decade of direct-action civil rights demonstrations in Chapel Hill. 60 years later, the Town of Chapel Hill will unveil a marker commemorating this historic event. The marker honoring the Chapel Hill Nine will be unveiled during a public ceremony at 4:00 on Friday, February 28 of this year at 450 West Franklin St.

A program prior to the unveiling will feature key speakers. Among those giving remarks are Esphur Foster, sister of Chapel Hill Nine member Harold Foster, as well as Dr. Reginald Hildebrand who led efforts in documenting the history of Chapel Hill's first sit-in. Chapel Hill Poet Laureate, CJ Suitt, will also perform a poem on the occasion. The program is expected to last approximately 30 minutes.

Background on the Commemorative Marker

In 2017, Mayor Pam Hemminger formed the Historic Civil Rights Commemorations (HCRC) Task Force. She charged this group with documenting the history of the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill, including "including the sit-in at the Colonial Drugstore and the Lincoln High students whose actions ignited the integration movement in Chapel Hill."

In 2018, Chapel Hill Town Council approved the Task Force recommendation to install a commemorative marker, and the Town of Chapel Hill officially dedicated the site at 450 W. Franklin Street for this purpose on February 28, 2019. The resulting work is part historical marker, part public art and was designed by Durham artist Stephen Hayes, with project management by Alicia Hylton-Daniel.

The marker is one of several ways that Chapel Hill is reflecting on the Town’s struggle for civil rights. Earlier this year, Chapel Hill Transit transformed three of its most visible downtown bus shelters with graphic wraps. The shelters feature dramatic photographs of protestors shutting down Franklin Street, picketing, and being arrested by police.

Later this spring, the Town will open an exhibit highlighting the contributions of Chapel Hill’s African American women elders. The goal of this exhibit is to educate and inspire local people and to honor the women who have contributed so much to the Chapel Hill community through a public history exhibit that is interactive, accessible and engaging for a broad audience.

Please note that from about 3:30 - 5:00 pm, the part of West Franklin Street in front of the West End Wine Bar will be closed.
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