[Durham INC] Royal Ice Cream Sit-In; meet Kelly Bryant -- today on NC Public Radio
bwatu at yahoo.com
Mon Jun 22 09:52:48 EDT 2009
Today on The State of Things...
Meet R. Kelly Bryant: This month marks the 52nd anniversary of the sit-ins at Durham's Royal Ice Cream Parlor, where seven African-Americans made a courageous attempt to integrate the racially segregated establishment.
Last year, their efforts were commemorated with a historical marker, largely in part to the activism of R. Kelly Bryant, Junior. Bryant has long been a voice of civil rights in the Durham community and he's also a local historian with stories of the Bull City that stretch back to the early 20th century.
Join host Frank Stasio for a conversation with Bryant about equality and community involvement.
--> Listen live at noon @ 91.5 FM or download broadcast online anytime at
Board supports historic marker
Herald-Sun, 17 Nov 2007
Durham Public Schools is supporting a move to place a
historic marker at the site of the Royal Ice Cream
Parlor sit-in more than 50 years ago.
R. Kelly Bryant and Virginia Williams, who
participated in the sit-in, are part of a citizen
committee that plans to appeal to the state's Highway
Historic Marker Advisory Committee on Dec. 17 to
memorialize the historic event with a sign.
The state committee has turned down requests for a
marker at the site, at the corner of Dowd and North
Roxboro streets, at least four other times, Bryant
told the school board this week.
"Something should be done," he said.
Bryant said he requested a sign in 2003, but was told
the site did not have enough historical significance
to warrant a marker. He also requested one in 1999 and
2000 -- and found newspaper accounts of a similar
request in 1979. The school board adopted a resolution
Thursday night saying it supported a marker near where
the ice cream parlor once sat.
"I can remember those days," said Omega Curtis-Parker,
a board member. "I read about when it happened. It was
in the newspapers and we were all aware of it.
Something needs to be done."
Some 1,500 markers have been erected across the state,
with 10 to 12 added each year.
On June 23, 1957, seven black citizens walked into the
Royal Ice Cream Parlor and sat in the white section.
They were arrested. Though it's unclear whether it was
the first such sit-in, it is credited as one of the
precursors of the modern Civil Rights movement in
The group said that in the time between the last
request and this year's, more people have become aware
of the historical significance of the sit-in. Several
books and publications have cited it, and during a
50th anniversary commemoration this summer, audience
members encouraged Bryant to appeal the denial.
Local activist John Schelp encouraged the school
"There are 1,513 historical markers in North Carolina,
and three are for civil rights," he said. "We can do
Column: Unified support for Royal sit-in marker
By Eddie Davis, Herald-Sun, 12 Dec 2007
Let's give a roaring round of applause to Durham.
More often than not, our focus on immediate issues prevents us from properly assessing and measuring the incremental steps that are being made as people learn to live and work together in an inclusive community. However, a few recent events could cause us to recognize and appreciate the unity that exists within the city and the county.
The November screening of "Durham: A Self Portrait," which played to packed audiences at the Carolina Theatre, was a sterling example of the folks coming together to celebrate the history and cultural fabric of our community. Also, the recent holiday parade and the display of downtown decorations allowed a multitude of involvement by children and adults in the hub of our community. And, of course, the growing momentum for a state-sponsored highway marker to be placed on the corner of Roxboro and Dowd is another example of community unity.
Fifty years have passed since the 1957 sit-in for civil rights at the Royal Ice Cream Parlor here in Durham. Although divided by racial restrictions that were reinforced by tradition and by law 50 years ago, it is extremely admirable that, in 2007, our community appears to be totally united behind an effort to convince the state of North Carolina to recognize and honor the monumental act of courage taken by seven African-American citizens who wanted a bit of equity along with their ice cream.
The ad hoc group of folks spearheading the efforts to have a state-sponsored historic marker in honor of the Royal Sit-In would like to thank the elected officials, the community organizations, the media, the blogs, and the individual citizens who are wholeheartedly supporting this county-wide effort. Dec. 17 is the date for the presentation that R. Kelly Bryant, Virginia Williams, John Schelp and others will make at the meeting of the North Carolina Highway Historical Marker Advisory Committee.
In all fairness, the individuals on this state committee do not appear to have erected a rigid wall of opposition to the Durham marker request. In fact, the current composition of the committee is vastly different from the group that denied Bryant's previous application for a marker. The committee has been kept abreast of the unified support that has been voiced by multiple segments of Durham...
Eddie Davis III is a former teacher at Hillside High School and current president of the North Carolina Association of Educators.
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