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State approves historical marker for Royal Ice Cream sit-in

A belated congratulations to R. Bryant Kelly, Virginia Williams, Eddie Davis, John Schelp, and everyone else involved in getting approval for a state historical marker to note the Royal Ice Cream sit-in in Durham, an event from fifty years ago that helped galvanize North Carolina's civil rights movement.

The marker, initially rejected by the state historical marker committee several years back, came to fruition thanks to an appeal by these Durhamites -- an appeal that, quite rightly, earned the attention and support of the local print and television media, local governmental bodies, and neighborhood and citizens groups.

Which, in and of itself, serves as a marker all to itself. A visible, very public market of the fact that Durham is a city that doesn't turn its back on its history and its past -- including those elements that in other communities and venues, folks want to sweep under the rug with banalities like "can't we get over the past?" One of the things I love about Durham is its celebration of itself, past and present, warts and all, as we've seen this year with events like the 50th-anniversary of Royal Ice Cream and the release of "Durham: A Self-Portrait."

Royal Ice Cream is an important symbol and recollection of a dark time in the history not just of Durham, but the American South. Honoring the event in this way reminds us of how far we've come as a community and a nation, but also how far we have yet to go in order to truly create a society with equal opportunities for all.

Because when you look at our schools, our neighborhoods, our civic institutions, it's clear that we're not there yet. It's not a situation that's unique or singular to Durham -- but what does stand out is Durham's willingness to talk about and recognize the importance of these topics, and to do something about them.


Eddie Davis

Thanks for the constructive comments that BULL CITY RISING and other outlets have posted about the unified community campaign that led to the approval of a historical marker for the 1957 Royal Ice Cream Sit-In. People for multiple segments of Durham worked together to convince the state marker committee to honor this significant civil rights event. Blogs, such as BCR, played an important role in helping to make citizens aware of the 50th anniversary of the courage of the "Royal Seven" and the persistence of R. Kelly Bryant. In addition, it was particularily pleasing that the folks who spearheaded the recent efforts represent racial groups that, most likely, would not have collaborated for such a symbol of equality in 1957.


Eddie Davis

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