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Dreams deferred



Our annual black culture edition hits the streets Feb. 1--the start of Black History Month and the anniversary of one of the most significant events in this state's long march toward racial reconciliation.

Feb. 1, 1960, marked one of North Carolina's earliest and certainly most remembered direct actions of the Civil Rights era. Khazan (formerly Blair), McCain, McNeil and Richmond, who sat down at the Woolworths lunch counter in Greensboro, are well remembered and likely will continue to be. Their actions were echoed by other young people throughout the state, in Chapel Hill, Durham, Charlotte and Winston-Salem, taking direct action--struggling--against segregation and a status quo that, unless brought down, denied them both justice and a future.

But even as the legacy of those early activists is celebrated, it is evident yet today that around North Carolina there is plenty still to struggle against.

Start back in Greensboro where, as that city's Truth and Reconciliation Commission is winding up its work, high-ranking members of the city's police department are found to be keeping a "black book"--a dossier on black officers as part of an effort to get them kicked off the force. From there you could follow I-85 to Davidson County, where racial profiling was found to be standard operating procedure for the sheriff's office. Or you could head east to Durham where three crosses blazed one night just a few months ago.

And in Goldsboro, where the Rev. William J. Barber II--the subject of this week's cover--speaks out from the pulpit, the schools in the city limits are effectively 100 percent African American in a supposedly merged and desegregated system.

For these and other reasons, Barber, recently elected president of the state's NAACP, has issued a fiery call for a new era of activism. In a recent speech in Chapel Hill, he reminded his audience that the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was more than a man with a dream, that he marched and spoke out and, most importantly, organized. [Listen to the speech, recorded by WCHL.]

Also in this issue, the Rev. Carl Kenney, a longtime voice of reason in Durham, starts writing a monthly opinion column, this week addressing the fears and reality of Durham's supposedly mean streets.

As the death of Coretta Scott King reminds us, the early heroes of the Civil Rights Movement are slowly fading away. They have passed the torch, and the time span known as the Civil Rights era may be history. But the struggle? Not over by a long shot.

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