State News

Marker commemorates pioneering Durham sit-in

Posted June 23, 2008

— A state historical marker was unveiled Monday night near the site of a Durham restaurant where protesters held a sit-in 51 years ago.

Rev. Douglas Moore, who was 28 at the time, led seven other young blacks into the segregated Royal Ice Cream Parlor on June 23, 1957, demanding to be served in the same way as whites.

"I said we need to as Christians really take this on," Moore said.

Royal Ice Cream, which was on North Roxboro Road, was targeted because it was in the heart of the black community, he said.

"I said, 'Man, if we can't knock this out, we can't go nowhere' because blacks were right there," he said. "I didn't know how wrong I was."

The waitress refused to serve the group, so they refused to leave.

"She said, 'We can't serve you.' I said, 'Why?' I said, 'I've got money. We've got money. What else you need?'" Moore said. "'But you are black,' (she said). I said, 'No, no, no, no, no.' I said, 'We are customers.'"

The protesters were arrested and cited for trespassing and violations of segregation laws.

The Durham action predated the protest by four college students at the Woolworth's lunch counter in downtown Greensboro. That sit-in on Feb. 1, 1960, is credited for helping to launch the civil-rights movement.

"It doesn't bother me because I didn't do it to get (publicity)," Moore said.

Still, he and other activists couldn't convince the state to recognize the historic significance of the Royal Ice Cream sit-in. Twice, they failed to persuade a state panel to approve a marker for the site.

"I just said somebody will find out 100 years from now," he said.

Instead, it took 50 years for the state to issue a historical marker. Three of the eight protesters were present Monday night when the marker was unveiled at Union Baptist Church, which owns the property where Royal Ice Cream once stood.

The new sign will be permanently installed later this year after Union Baptist finishes a school on the site.

"There are a lot of emotions that flood back," he said.


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  • walkermr Jun 23, 2008

    "This is not being installed to "keep racial tensions going" anymore than the dozens of markers all over the state that mark Civil War battles and so forth."

    Well, considering that those markers were erected by private organizations that did not receive one cent of tax dollars, your argument holds no water.

  • issymayake Jun 23, 2008

    (I'm going to ignore some of the illogical/ignorant/ill-informed statements in this thread. . grrr)

    It's about time, State of North Carolina. Having spoken with one of the protesters, you can really get a sense of Durham's place in the civil rights movement; especially when they speak of the old Hayti area, and how Durham was such a unique community. The Black Wall Street story, the sit-ins, as well as other facts need to be shared with the world.

  • bronzegoddess40 Jun 23, 2008

    anneonymousone, Bravo for your comment!

  • Durham-Raleigh Jun 23, 2008

    Paranoid? Defensive? Hardly.

    You're the bright bulb that brought up this question of "why cain't tha whites or those who ain't colored able to have thur historical thangs" in the first place.

    I'm blasting you, to use your word choice, because you ask a question that makes assumptions that are diametrically opposed to reality. You're assuming that it is only events for those of color that are commemorated in this state, when in reality, that's far from the truth.

    You say you're "wondering," when in reality you're complaining about a problem that does not exist.

    Quad erat demonstratum.

  • mugofstout2 Jun 23, 2008

    Comparing the American Revolution to the civil rights movement is as a mountain to a molehill. The Revolution affected Two countries, the civil rights movement affected 12%(even less then) of the population.

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jun 23, 2008

    What part of there would be no we do you not understand? The ENTIRE American Revolution was started because laws were broken. Get off the high horse and get real.

  • anneonymousone Jun 23, 2008

    I'm a white woman who is proud to live in a place where African Americans--- as individuals and as communities ---have accomplished so much. Celebrating someone who does not look like me does not detract from me in the least; all people seeking justice are, in some way or other, my people.

    Mugofstout, according to your ideas of not celebrating those who broke the law, no matter how unjust that law was, we can close up museum exhibits about the American Revolution, change a lot of the faces on U.S. money, and delete a slew of names from history books. That seems extreme.

  • mugofstout2 Jun 23, 2008

    amva, If everyone thought in such a lawful maner, we would not be such a mess now.

  • PaulRevere Jun 23, 2008

    People need to do a sit-in during Durham city council meetings.

  • AM is Back to Being Immaculate Jun 23, 2008

    mugo- If everyone thought in such a silly manner then there would be no America because the early people would've never gained independence from the Brit's. Get over it.