Durham’s civil rights heritage

Martin Luther King speaks at White Rock Baptist
Feb. 16, 2013 @ 06:40 PM

As the sit-in movement that had begun in Greensboro swept across the South, Martin Luther King Jr., addressed a crowd estimated at 1,200 people at White Rock Baptist Church on February 16, 1960.

Talking to the standing-room only crowd filling the church, he counseled, "Let us not fear going to jail if the officials threaten to arrest us for standing up for our rights….Maybe it will take this willingness to stay in jail to arouse the dozing conscience of our nation." Audience members responded by collecting money for expenses for future demonstrations.

King made five public appearances in Durham and was scheduled to make a sixth on April 4, 1968. Instead, he cancelled to be in Memphis to lend his support to the sanitation workers' strike. He was assassinated that evening.