New Civil Rights Marker to be Unveiled in Durham

On June 23, 1957, six African American youths, accompanied by the Rev. Douglas Moore, sat down in booths reserved for white patrons at the Royal Ice Cream Parlor in Durham, North Carolina. When the owner called police, all seven protesters were arrested and charged with trespassing. This was the first major sit-in of Durham’s civil rights struggle.

On Monday, June 23, 2008, the state of North Carolina will unveil a historical marker to be placed at the site, at the corner of Roxboro and Dowd Streets. There will be a ceremony at 5 p.m. at Union Baptist Church (904 N. Roxboro), and the public is invited to attend.

UNC Press author Christina Greene describes the Royal Ice Cream Parlor sit-in in the book Our Separate Ways: Women and the Black Freedom Movement in Durham, North Carolina, which was awarded the 2006 Julia Cherry Spruill Prize from the Southern Association of Women Historians. As Greene explains, the sit-in initially provoked controversy within African American community. “The 1957 sit-in did, however, prompt local blacks to debate strategies for dismantling Jim Crow,” she writes. Get the whole story in Our Separate Ways. Update: the News and Observer has an article about the event today, 6/23/08.

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