Journey of Reconciliation March in Durham

November 8, 2012 by  

The 65th anniversary of the First Freedom Ride was celebrated last week to commemorate the day that nine groups of activists rode interstate buses to test the new legislation that desegregated them. In Durham, nine teams of women walked from Durham to Chapel Hill on the Journey of Reconciliation March to commemorate the women activists who contributed to the civil rights movement.

Each marcher wore a yellow T-shirt and carried a yellow banner printing to announce the message of freedom. The 12-mile march ended at the Freedom Riders Marker in Chapel Hill located at the corner of Columbia and West Rosemary streets. The marchers continued on to the Inter-Faith Council shelter to pause and reflect upon each of the brave women activists who dared to ride the interstate buses 65 years ago.

Surviving activists such as Virginia Williams and Pauli Murray spoke about how they protested to bring attention to the segregation of non-white citizens. Virginia described how she was arrested when she and six other activists sat in the white section of an ice cream parlor in 1957 to protest against the laws. The case went all the way to the State Supreme Court which decided that they were guilty of trespassing. Pauli also protested at a cafeteria in Howard University in Washington D.C. in 1943 and then went on to become the first African American woman to become a priest in the Episcopal Church.

Many other women were commemorated at Chapel Hill shelter for their activism in those tumultuous times before the laws were changed to ban segregation.