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.