The first Northside Gateway is nearly complete! At the corner of W. Rosemary and Roberson, this gateway will honor our community’s Freedom Fighters. In time, we hope to see smaller versions in honor of our community’s educators and builders rising up at North Graham and on Sunset. The Gateway is built of Chatham stone and features eight black, granite slabs impressed with images of civil rights action in Chapel Hill and quotations from oral history interviews selected in an intensive, public process. The panels will be installed just prior to the Dedication at the Northside Festival.
The gateway offers what one local, civil rights leaders called “a beautiful glimpse” into the Freedom Movement. 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. As lifetime resident, Clementine Self, said: “The battle is not over. We have not yet overcome.”
The gateway marks an entry into Northside neighborhoods and is just one more step in gathering and mobilizing our great history. The dedication of the gateway will be held at the Northside Festival, beginning about 1:00. It will feature an invocation by Rev. Brown of St. Joseph C.M.E., comments by Mayor Pam Hemminger and Senator Val Foushee, testimony from civil rights leaders Dave Mason and Betty Geer, and spoken word from C.J. Suitt. It will close in collective song led by a mass choir from St. Joseph. Local leaders will be on hand to describe the history of which the gateway photos are only a token. We are especially happy to be able to host Hilliard Caldwell, longtime activist and longtime Carrboro Alderman, who will be coming up from Louisiana for the occasion! We’ll also offer YOU a chance to add your history, identify related events and people, and to sign up for an oral history interview. This summer we’ll hope to develop a community archive of accounts, pictures, and news clippings. Get ready.
In the meantime, plan to come on down to mark this historic occasion and to celebrate the rich legacy of the freedom struggle in Chapel Hill and the neighbors who led it.