Thursday, January 10, 2013

Honoring Dr. King and Commemorating Durham’s Royal Ice Cream Sit-In

Durham's role in the Civil Rights Movement makes Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on January 21 that much more important to remember Dr. King's contribution to the society we have today.

NC Moms Rising, Northgate Mall and a number of area mothers’ associations and nonprofit organizations will come together to commemorate the life and legacy of Dr. King. with a focus on Durham’s historic Royal Ice Cream Sit-In with a special children’s program event featuring civil rights era music, educational readings, related crafts, freedom songs and, of course, ice cream on Monday, January 21 at 10:30am and again at 12:00pm.

The event is free and open to the public and takes place at Northgate Mall’s Center Court.

Designed for school-age children, the event will feature discussions and learning about the civil rights sit-in movement and specifically how, in one of the earliest sit-ins, a group of three women and four men from Durham sat in at the Royal Ice Cream Company on June 23, 1957 to protest segregation.

Organizers and participants will honor their efforts by sharing stories, readings of Andrea Davis Pickney’s children’s book Sit-In: How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down, singing of freedom songs, related crafts that convey the meaning of justice and freedom and an ice cream social and sock hop featuring civil rights era music from Durham’s DJ PiddiPat.

Continuing Dr. King’s commitment to service, participants are asked to donate nonperishable food or toiletries (soap, toothbrushes, diapers, etc.) to support Durham Urban Ministries that serves local families in need. Voter registration and information will also be available.

This event is free and open to the public at Northgate Center Court. Sponsored by NC MomsRising, Lango Kids, Durham Mothers Club, Carrboro/Chapel Hill Mothers Club, Kid Cycle, Kids Voting and Northgate Mall.

Northgate Mall is located at 1058 West Club Boulevard, Durham.

Background About Durham’s Royal Ice Cream Sit-In
The 1960 Greensboro Sit Ins sparked a national movement but were not the first such action. Individual and group protest actions prior to 1960, generally isolated and often without wider impact, took place across the state and region. A protest in 1957 in Durham had wider consequence, as it led to a court case testing the legality of segregated facilities. The Royal Ice Cream Company had a doorway on the Dowd Street side with a “White Only” sign and, on Roxboro Street, a sign marked “Colored Only.” A partition separated the two sections inside the building.

On June 23, 1957, Rev. Douglas Moore, pastor of Asbury Temple Methodist Church, and six others assembled at the church to plan the protest. The young African-Americans moved over to Royal Ice Cream and took up booths. When they refused to budge, the manager called the police who charged them with trespassing. Newspaper coverage in the Durham-Raleigh area was mixed. The Durham papers printed the story on the front-page the next day but it was buried inside the Raleigh News and Observer; The Carolinian, an African American newspaper, placed it on the front page.

On June 24 the protestors were found guilty of trespassing and each fined $10 plus court costs. On appeal the case went to Superior Court and a jury trial. An all-white jury rendered a guilty verdict of trespass on each defendant. The case was appealed to the North Carolina Supreme Court that upheld the law regarding segregated facilities. On July 15, 1958, the seven protesters paid fines totaling $433.25. Attorneys appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court but the High Court refused to hear the case.
‒ from the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

Learn more about Durham's role in history here.

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