Thomas R. Hocutt: A pathfinder
I believe that each March 13 should be viewed as Thomas Raymond Hocutt Day in Durham and Chapel Hill. On that date in 1933, Hocutt, a Hillside High School graduate and a senior at what is now N.C. Central University, drove to Chapel Hill to request admission to the UNC School of Pharmacy.
Hocutt, an African-American, was accompanied by Durham attorneys Conrad Pearson and Cecil McCoy and by Louis Austin, the pioneering editor of The Carolina Times. Under the separate-but-equal dictates of the 1896 US Supreme Court’s decision of Plessy v Ferguson and the segregation laws of North Carolina, Hocutt’s request for admission was denied.
After a great deal of legal maneuvering and community tension, Hocutt’s court challenge to the UNC decision was unsuccessful. However, the Hocutt v Wilson challenge, which was the first such case brought against a university in the South, set the stage for today’s diversity and inclusion.
Thus, these first steps toward equal access in higher education in North Carolina and in the South are symbolically imprinted on the road from Durham to Chapel Hill.
The 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was the basic tool that Hocutt, Pearson, McCoy, and Austin used in their unsuccessful legal attempt at racial integration 85 years ago. In later years, the 14th Amendment would prove to be much more successful as a tool of equality.
Please mark your calendars and save the date of Saturday, May 26, 2018, for a student-led seminar which will discuss the impact of the 14th Amendment and the trailblazing advocacy of Thomas Hocutt, Pauli Murray, Floyd McKissick, William Marsh, Ralph Fraiser and others in the desegregation process at higher education institutions in North Carolina. This program will be held in the Hillside High School Theater.
City of Durham
Moving the ‘justice needle’
I have taught/lectured at Duke. There are more affirming faculty and staff than not. The ongoing reality for theological seminaries has much to do with fiscal viability. The big donors and denominational support is often theologically conservative. Those that support more affirming and inclusive seminaries must continue to press for justice, AND also reach out to affirming donors, potential board members and faculty.
Systemic change moved the “justice needle” for women and people of color. The same will be true for the LGBT+ community at Duke. By the way, I am an out and self-affirmed, married, ordained, POC and multi-degreed same-gender-loving woman.
The Arab refusal
I agree with Burhan Ghanayem (“Nothing more anti-Semitic,” March 8) that historical facts are important.
When Jordan attacked Israel in 1967, Israel had the audacity to win. Any other country would have annexed the land, which Israel was entitled to do. All the West Bank would have been part of Israel.
Instead, Israel offered to exchange land for peace. The response was “no”. Thirteen nations from the Arab league convened to create the famous three “no’s”: 1) NO negotiation with Israel, 2) NO recognition of Israel, 3) NO peace with Israel. It was the Arab refusal to live in peace that makes the West Bank land disputed territory today. Even when Israel gives up land for peace – for example the Sinai and Gaza – all they get in return are more terrorist attacks. Since leaving Gaza in 2005, Israel has endured over 17,000 rocket attacks, stabbing of civilians, bombings, and cars rammings. Would Americans tolerate such attacks?
Ghanayem claims Israel is “swallowing land.” In truth, the Israeli settlements take up 1.7 percent of the West Bank land. If, as he claims, he lost his family farm, there is a mechanism to address his concerns in court. The 900,000 Jews kicked out of Muslim lands had no such recourse.
There will be peace when the Arabs decide to stop vying for Israel’s destruction, either through violence or through the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement.
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