If you’ve recently made your way across the square in front of Chapel Hill’s downtown post office, you may have noticed an inscription near the flagpole that says “Peace & Justice Plaza.”
Below those words are the names of eight individuals — men and women, black and white — who were at the forefront of this community’s civil rights efforts. Below that are the words of Martin Luther King Jr.: “True peace is not merely the absence of negative forces, it is the presence of justice.”
You may or may not know the names Charlotte Adams, Henry Anderson, James Brittian, Joe Herzenberg, Mildred Ringwalt, Joe and Lucy Straley and Gloria Williams. They’re largely responsible for that little square in front of the post office being hallowed ground. It was the setting for countless rallies and protests during the civil rights era and each year on the third Monday in January it serves again as a gathering spot for those dedicated to keeping King’s dream alive.
There the NAACP’s annual rally in remembrance of King and the cause he fought and died for begins on Monday at 9 a.m. From there, the annual march down Franklin Street will start at 9:30 and proceed down to First Baptist Church on Roberson Street for a worship service. The service starts at 10:30 a.m. Tim Tyson, author of the book Blood Done Signed My Name and an extensive study of the 1898 Wilmington Riots, will be the keynote speaker.
The rally, march and worship service are among dozens of events throughout the community, including several for those who want to honor King with a day of service to their community.
• Sunday, Jan. 17 — University-Community Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Banquet, 6 p.m., Friday Center, with Rev. Mitchell Simpson, pastor of University Baptist Church;
• Monday Jan. 18 — National Day of Service (see sidebar); MLK Youth Leadership Program for middle school students, 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Potluck Unity Dinner, 5 p.m., UNC’s Student Union Great Hall; “He Was a Poem, He Was a Song,” 7 p.m., theater of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History off South Road, with performances by the Triad Youth Jazz Society and Tar Heel Voices;
• Tuesday, Jan. 19 — Cleve Jones, creator of the AIDS quilt (aidsquilt.org/), speaks at the Great Hall in the student union at 7 p.m.;
• Wednesday, Jan. 20 — A showing of the documentary Standing on My Sister’s Shoulders, noon, Graham Memorial Building; MLK Oratorial Contest, 6 p.m., Sonja Haynes Stone Center;
• Thursday, Jan. 21— Candlelight vigil at 6:30 p.m. at the Old Well and MLK Memorial Lecture by Danny Glover at 7:30 at Memorial Hall;
• Friday, Jan. 22 — “I, Too, Sing America,” 6:30 p.m., Great Hall, student union.
For more information about these and other events, please visit unc.edu/diversity/mlk. —Staff Reports
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