Local News

Durham Racism

Posted July 31, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Racism affects us all, and it affects us all emotionally. We all have different ways of reacting to it and different ways of handling it. Throughout the Triangle people have marched through the street against racism. They pray and sing against it in the churches. Now two men in Durham want to make a concerted effort to stop racism once and for all.

One of the men, David Smith, is the chairman of the conservative white group Friends of Durham.

The other man, Kenneth Spaulding, is the chairman of the Durham Committee for the Affairs of Black People.

Smith and Spaulding represent two groups that have been adversaries for years but are becoming allies in the war on racism. The two men signed a document called the Memorandum of Understanding. It acknowledges that racism is a clear and present issue that has greatly tarnished Durham's image.

"There is too often animosity shown or expressed between the races in Durham," said Spaulding.

Events like the recent school board superintendent election and the search for a new city manager were racially divisive, giving the image that the city is racially polarized. Spaulding and Smith add racism has also affected real estate and business, with newcomers being told to overlook Durham and settle in other cities.

The memorandum looks good on paper. It is a 14-point document that took six months to put together. Smith and Spaulding will be trying to do something about this within the next 30 to 60 days. They are inviting the media, citizens, clergy and political leaders to get involved in the dialogue on racism.