This past weekend, The Jackson Center was busy helping facilitate the Civil Rights Weekend. Saturday morning, I helped set up Hargraves Community Center for the banquet later that evening. The tables were coordinated with yellow, orange, red, and brown tablecloths and the centerpieces featured flowers, baby pumpkins, and a photograph of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the community center in 1960.
All of the events were inspiring. One of my favorite moments was at the Still Walking for Justice event, an all female march that commemorated the women involved with organizing the freedom rides who were unable to participate because of concerns connected to their genders. A young man, most likely a student, was biking by IFC on Rosemary Street and stopped to listen to the speakers at the rally. It was really refreshing to see someone not involved with the actual event be pulled from their routine and participate.
My favorite part of the evening was reconnecting with James T. Foushee, whom i worked with last Spring on an oral history project about the Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill. Foushee was a leading voice and figure in the movement. He came to the banquet a little late and I was very worried he wouldn’t remember me, or he would remember me and if he never got the copy of our interview I sent him (which he specifically mentioned he wanted because he had done other oral history interviews but never received an actual copy), or even worse, he did get the interview and felt totally misrepresented/uncomfortable with the results. He is someone I deeply respect and admire. So, I was nervous, a gut-wrenching, nauseating nervous.
I didn’t get a chance to approach him until after the open mic, during which I was craning my neck around trying to find where he was sitting. Everyone was heading outside to gather around the front steps of Hargraves for the candlelight vigil, when I went up to greet him. He immediately recognized me and gave me a big hug, even if he still probably doesn’t know my name. It felt so good to hear that he was expecting to see me at the event and that he was doing well. He has spent the past month volunteering for Obama for America, registering people to vote. I am sure he was very happy and relieved to hear the news last night. We then walked outside with our candles and joined the singing.