Civil Rights

Charmaine McKissick-Melton at a ceremony for Sigma Tau Delta, an English honor society.
Chi Brown / NCCU Office of University Relations

In 1963, the Durham School Board extended the desegregation of schools to elementary school students. Third-grader Charmaine McKissick-Melton and her brother, Floyd Jr., were two of the first African-Americans to integrate North Durham Elementary School.

An image of Julian Bond
Eduardo Montes-Bradley / Wikipedia Creative Commons

Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former chairman of the NAACP, died this weekend. He was 75.

Bond fought for equal rights for decades, leaving behind a legacy of social justice as one of the original leaders of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) and former president of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Lucille Ervin, Durham, St. Mark AME Zion
Leoneda Inge

There was a special birthday celebration for one of Durham’s long-time residents Tuesday.

Lucille Ervin turned 108 years old.  About 30 people gathered on the lawn of St. Mark AME Zion Church to wish her well and sing "Happy Birthday".

Ervin moved to North Carolina from South Carolina 80 years ago.  And she’s been here ever since.  She was born in Charleston and raised by an Aunt and Uncle who lived on land handed down by their slave owners, according to Dorothy Fuller, Ervin's cousin.

Rev. Gil Caldwell (far right) with Martin Luther King, Jr.

In 2007, Methodist Reverend Frank Schaefer performed the marriage service for his son Tim's wedding.

The seemingly routine action dramatically altered Schaefer's career because the same-sex union was prohibited by the church. Schaefer’s performance of marriage vows put him at the center of a controversy. He was stripped of his credentials but after a trial, the defrocking was overturned.

Alicia Garza is the co-creator of the hashtag #BlackLivesMatter.
Alicia Garza

Alicia Garza first wrote the phrase “black lives matter” on Facebook as a note to her friends and followers the day George Zimmerman was acquitted in the killing of Trayvon Martin. 


2015 marks the 50th anniversary of key moments in the civil rights movement, including Bloody Sunday and the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Malcolm X waiting for a press conference to begin on March 26, 1964.
U.S. News & World Report Magazine Photograph Collection, Library of Congress / Wikimedia Commons

The messages of civil rights leader Malcolm X still resonate 50 years after his assassination.

Conversations about Islam in America, police shootings and freedom of the press are as relevant in 2015 as they were on the day of his death: February 21, 1965.

Duke University and UNC-Chapel Hill start a two-day conference to examine the legacy of Malcolm X today.

Nearly 4,000 blacks were lynched in the American South between the end of the Civil War and World War II, according to a new report by the Equal Justice Initiative.

The report, Lynching in America: Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror, says that the number of victims in the 12 Southern states was more than 20 percent higher than previously reported.

Lynchings were part of a system of racial terror designed to subjugate a people, says the Alabama-based nonprofit's executive director, Bryan Stevenson.

Author Sharon Draper has been writing award-winning young adult fiction for years. 

Producer Hady Mawajdeh fulling around behind the mic.
Carol Jackson

As the year draws to a close, The State of Things staff take a look back at some of their favorite segments of 2014.