Civil Rights

Durham Police at Jesus Huerta protest in December 2013
Laura Lee


Across the nation, protestors have taken to the street to call for reforms in police action. The protests come in the wake of  two grand juries declining to indict police officers who killed Eric Garner and Michael Brown.

From the coast to the mountains, activists in North Carolina have joined the movement calling for greater police accountability.

The International Civil Rights Center and Museum faces ongoing financial struggles, and the Greensboro mayor wants the city to take it over.
Jeff Tiberii


The International Civil Rights Center & Museum in Greensboro was built to commemorate a transformative moment in civil rights history when four NC A&T freshmen staged a sit-in at the city's whites-only lunch counter. 

Sitting on the steps with a child soon after I arrived in Durham to work as a community organizer for Operation Breakthrough.

Dr. Howard Fuller has dedicated much of his life’s work to eradicating poverty. His work began in 1965, when he went to Durham to work as a community organizer and helped young African-American students and youth find a voice for themselves in organizations aimed toward ending poverty. 

Cover to the first installment of John Lewis' March trilogy of graphic novels

Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) was once inspired to fight for civil rights by a comic book about Martin Luther King Jr. and his nonviolent protest in Montgomery, Alabama. 

Protest for economic equality
creative commons

Operation Breadbasket was an economic program of the civil rights movement that worked to negotiate better hiring practices for African-American people. North Carolina State University's dance company, Panoramic Dance Project, is performing a mixed media modern dance inspired by the historical events. "Operation Breadbasket" will be performed March 27th and 28th at the university. 
U.S. Embassy The Hague via Flickr

  North Carolina outperforms most states when it comes to teaching civil rights education to K-12 classrooms, according to a new study by the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance project.

The center assigned A-through-F grades to each state based on their education standards and resources available to teachers. North Carolina scored a “B,” a drastic improvement from the “F” it received in a similar report from 2011.

Twenty states received “F’s,” while 14 received “D’s.” The study notes that twelve states require no teaching of the civil rights movement at all.

Triad Update

Jan 21, 2014
The lunch counter where Greensboro students staged a civil rights sit-in protest on display in the National Museum of American History in Washington DC.
Wikipedia author RadioFan

 Franklin McCain, civil rights activist and one of the Greensboro Four, died this month. 

Jack Moebes/Corbis

A Civil Rights pioneer has died. Franklin McCain was one of four teenagers who sat down at an all-white lunch counter in Greensboro on February 1, 1960.

"I certainly wasn't afraid. And I wasn't afraid because I was too angry to be afraid. If I were lucky I would be carted off to jail for a long, long time. And if I were not so lucky, then I would be going back to my campus, in a pine box." - Franklin McCain, interview on NPR

The freshmen from North Carolina A&T ignited a sit-in movement in the Jim Crow south that led to other key chapters in the Civil Rights era.

Derrick Ivey (Left) as C.P. Ellis and Lakeisha Coffery (Right) as Ann Atwater / Manbites Dog Theater


  In 1971, civil rights activist, Ann Atwater, and ku klux klan grand exalted cyclops, C.P. Ellis chaired a community meeting to handle violence in the recently desegregated Durham school system. And those meetings started a unexpected lifelong friendship between the two. A play by Mark St. Germain retells the story of this unlikely friendship in the play, Best of Enemies


Al McSurely has spent more than five decades fighting racism, poverty and discrimination.

In the 1960s, he was arrested for sedition in Kentucky and then for Contempt of Congress for refusing to turn over documents to the McClellan Committee. His experience in the legal system led him to start law school at the age of 48. McSurely worked for many civil rights clients, including a landmark case on behalf of UNC housekeepers.