Over 80 protesters gathered in front of the Orange County Courthouse to hear speeches at a July 4 demonstration calling for racial equity from school rooms to courtrooms in Hillsborough and beyond.
Del Ward organized the protest with the Hate-Free Schools Coalition and Action NC to bring light to the racism Black Hillsborough residents experience.
“This is a solidarity movement,” Ward said. “Solidarity with Chapel Hill, solidarity with Raleigh, with Charlotte, with Los Angeles, with Minneapolis, with all over the world. Everyone’s coming out.”
Patricia Clayton, the president of the Northern Orange County chapter of the NAACP, recalled her own childhood experiences with racism, like drinking from segregated water fountains in front of the courthouse where protesters stood.
She remembered the jeers she heard every day on her bus rides to then-segregated Orange High School.
“I graduated in 1969, and rode the bus with white folks. I rode from Orange High to Reaper Street — that’s an hour ride — I was called names from Orange High to Reaper Street every day,” Clayton said. “I went to Orange High three years before it was totally integrated. I know about racism.”
Clayton said protesters can keep up the fight for civil rights through voting, especially in the upcoming election.
“Don’t sit at home and make excuses. I want you to do the mail-in voting, because we don’t know what COVID-19 is going to be like. I want you to go ahead and request your absentee ballot, and mail it in,” she said. “Don’t sit at home.”
Tommy McNeill, a businessman, former political candidate and speaker at the event, called upon Superintendent Monique Felder to address racial disparities in suspension, literacy, teacher hiring and beyond.