Yesterday, I took the youth to a program at Ashbury Temple UMC to hear some people speak about Durham's place in the Civil Rights struggle, and it was really informative. A teenage girl from Hillside highschool was arrested for refusing to move to the back of the bus in the 1940s, years before Rosa Parks' famous sit-in. And a group of teenagers from Ashbury itself (one of whom was one of the speakers) were arrested for sitting in the white section of Royal Ice Cream parlor 3 years before the Woolworth sit-in in Greensboro, which usually makes it to the history textbooks.
Also, I learned that Durham was known as the Black Wall Street starting in the late 1800s because of a large number of black owned banks, and because of over 120 black owned, not fronted and secretly owned by whites as in Harlem, Atlanta and other large cities, businesses, it was put up as an example by early civil rights leaders like Booker T. Washington. Unfortunately, all this progress was destroyed when the city built the freeway right through this thriving business area, and the promised shopping centers were never built. It is a shame that such exemplary progress was lost for the sake of easier transportation, and that I never learned any of this in my years of North Carolina history in school.