Orange County

New monument honors Chapel Hill’s Freedom Fighters, civil-rights history

From staff reports

Jamare Lee, 6, great grandson of Marian Cheek Jackson, namesake of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill, prepares to release a white dove Saturday, April 29, 2017, at the Northside Festival, celebrating the town's historically black Northside neighborhoods. The festival featured the dedication of a new "gateway," a series of photographs embedded in a stone wall outside St. Joseph C.M.E. Church documenting Chapel Hill’s Freedom Fighters and scenes of civil rights marches. "It really helps to tell (the story that) Chapel Hill was not and, to a lesser degree is not, what we think it is," Town Council member Michael Parker said Saturday.
Jamare Lee, 6, great grandson of Marian Cheek Jackson, namesake of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center in Chapel Hill, prepares to release a white dove Saturday, April 29, 2017, at the Northside Festival, celebrating the town's historically black Northside neighborhoods. The festival featured the dedication of a new "gateway," a series of photographs embedded in a stone wall outside St. Joseph C.M.E. Church documenting Chapel Hill’s Freedom Fighters and scenes of civil rights marches. "It really helps to tell (the story that) Chapel Hill was not and, to a lesser degree is not, what we think it is," Town Council member Michael Parker said Saturday. mschultz@newsobserver.com

Hundreds of people attended the 2017 Northside Festival celebrating the past, present and future of Chapel Hill’s historic Northside neighborhoods.

The new Freedom Fighters Gateway outside St. Joseph C.M.E. Church at West Rosemary and Roberson streets was officially unveiled during Saturday’s festival. The Chatham stone monument features eight granite slabs with impressed photographs by Jim Wallace and Al Amon of civil rights protests and quotations from oral history interviews.

“The gateway offers what one local, civil rights leader called ‘a beautiful glimpse’ into the Freedom Movement,” the Northside neighborhoods’ Marian Cheek Jackson Center says.

“It is meant to let people know – loud and clear – that they have entered a unique community of people who have struggled for freedom their whole lives and to inspire similar determination,” the center says. “As lifetime Northside resident Clementine Self said: ‘The battle is not over. We have not yet overcome.’”

The gateway project was a collaboration among the town of Chapel Hill, the Jackson Center for Making and Preserving History, and St. Joseph’s C.M.E. Church. Funding for the project came primarily from the town’s Streetscape bond funds and the Chapel Hill Percent for Art Program.

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