Ashley: ‘Durham Herald’ section adds features

Jan. 26, 2013 @ 12:54 PM

More than 60 years have passed since a group of Durham lawyers won a court case that was an early landmark in the long struggle for civil rights and equality for African-Americans.

“In 1950 Durham lawyers John Wheeler and Hugh Thompson represented the Durham Committee on Negro Affairs and others in a court case regarding inequality between the city’s black and white schools.”

That description is part of the narrative accompanying an iconic photograph in the Durham County Public Library’s “Durham Civil Rights Heritage Project.”

The collection of historic photos and stories, gathered from many sources including residents and participants in the civil rights movement, is readily accessible online.

And starting today, we’ll feature one photo and the story behind it each Sunday in our Durham Herald section.

Today, a photo of Hugh Thompson, Oliver Hill, John Wheeler and Martin Martin launches the series.

I’m indebted to Lynn Richardson, the head of the North Carolina Collection at the library and a zealous curator of Durham history, for the idea of highlighting the collection. We met recently to talk about ways we might help spread word of the collection through The Durham Herald section, and the idea of featuring the civil rights portfolio in this historic year, the 50th anniversary of so many critical events in the movement, seemed the perfect fit.

(You can visit the collection on-line at

“Durham’s Civil Rights Heritage” is one of several new features we’ve introduced in The Durham Herald section in the past few weeks. The section itself is only a few months old – part of The Herald-Sun distributed primarily in Durham County with a heavy focus on Durham.

The Durham Convention and Visitors Bureau is contributing weekly “Exploring Durham” vignettes.  The idea is to let Durham area residents know of the many cool places that the DCVB would recommend to visitors – but those of us who live here might overlook. Today’s feature is on the N. C. Central University Art Museum.

Each month, Jennifer Brooks will contribute a column on environmental education. Brooks, a certified NC environmental educator, is soil conservationist/education coordinator with the Durham Soil and Water Conservation District. Her article today on “Water – the cycle of life” begins on the front of The Durham Herald.

She joins other monthly columnists such as Tania Dautlick from Keep Durham Beautiful; Alex Johnson, Durham’s urban forestry manager; and Ann Alexander of Durham’s Central Park.

For years, we’ve been offering a sample of the opportunities available to would-be volunteers through the Volunteer Center of Durham. Now, each week the center is contributing a vignette on a Volunteer of the Week, drawn from the nominations for its annual “Key Volunteer” awards. 

This week, you can read about Vashti Hill, who has been volunteering for two years at the Durham Economic Resource Center.

And last week, we began an occasional feature from Triangle Modernist Houses that will highlight some of the many mid-century modernist homes of which Durham and the Triangle have so many.

I hope you enjoy these new features and others in The Durham Herald.

And I hope you’ll contribute. We’re looking for even more material such as Eagle Scout awards, civic club events, recognitions and awards. I was delighted last week to be able to picture students at Oak Grove Elementary School, for example, taking part in a nationwide “cup stacking” event. 

Those are the sort of great things happening in Durham that might escape much notice – and that we are happy to share with our readers.

Bob Ashley is editor of The Herald-Sun. You can contact him at 919-419-6678 or at