For the towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, this year’s July 4 festivities come with a somber reflection on our nation’s often-troubling past.
2014 marks the 50th anniversary of the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, one of the most significant pieces of legislation in American history and a watershed moment for the civil rights movement. It also continues the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
To mark the occasion, the Town of Chapel Hill hosted a discussion Wednesday on the legacy of the Civil Rights Act, in a packed room in the Chapel Hill Public Library. Gene Nichol and Ted Shaw served as keynote speakers; State Senator Valerie Foushee was among the panelists. (CORRECTION: Foushee was scheduled to be among the panelists, but was unable to attend.)
And on Friday – Independence Day proper – the Town of Carrboro is hosting a public reading of Frederick Douglass’s famous 1852 speech “The Meaning of the Fourth of July to the Negro” (also known as “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?”). Readers will include Valerie Foushee, former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird, and WCHL’s Aaron Keck. It begins at Town Hall at noon and should last about a half hour, as part of the town’s July 4 festivities.
James Williams is the public defender for Orange and Chatham Counties; he too will be among the readers on Friday. Earlier this week he joined Ron Stutts on the Morning News.