Fact Friday 139 - Turning Points in Charlotte During the Civil Rights Era (Pt. 4)

Happy Friday!

In Black America Series: Charlotte, North Carolina, authors Vermelle Diamond Ely, Grace Hoey Drain, and Amy Rogers have compiled an intriguing pictorial history, which includes images and keepsakes from both the Second Ward Alumni House Museum archive and private collections, to celebrate Charlotte's African-American citizens and the rich heritage they possess. In this week's Fact Friday, I'll share just a few. 


The year 1960 was a pivotal one in the struggle for civil rights in the South. These Charlotteans are shown marching outside the Kress store in downtown in February of that year, the same month that the sit-in movement began in Greensboro, NC. The examples of non-violent direct action would lead two months later to the founding of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

In 1964, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was the featured speaker at a combined graduation ceremony for six black Mecklenburg County high schools. The ceremony was held at the original Charlotte Coliseum (now Bojangles' Arena). Within the year, Dr. King would be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his leadership during the civil rights movement.


In September 1966, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returned to Charlotte to address he Catawba Synod Commission on Religion and Race, part of a national effort by the United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A., to promote racial understanding. 

Dr. King's address took place at the Johnson C. Smith University gymnasium. In the group behind Dr. King sits Dr. Reginald Hawkins, a prominent local dentist and nationally known civil rights activist; he was a member of the National Commission on Religion and Race.


In 1980, then-Governor Jim Hunt (left) attended the dedication ceremony of Charlotte's statue that honors Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Bronze likeness of Dr. King was created by noted African-American sculptress Selma Burke. Ironically, this tribute to Dr. King stands in Marshall Park, which was developed on land where part of the Second Ward neighborhood - a large, black community called Brooklyn that was destroyed in the name of urban renewal - once stood. 


Until next week!



Email me at chris@704shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!


Information taken from:

Black America Series: Charlotte, North Carolina by Vermelle Diamond Ely, Grace Hoey Drain, and Amy Rogers (2001)


“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass