Fayetteville celebrates civil rights history with new historical marker downtown

Monique John Image
Friday, June 16, 2023
New historical marker in Fayetteville celebrates civil rights history
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The marker is part of a larger project being organized by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission

FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (WTVD) -- It's a special day for Black history in Fayetteville--a new commemorative marker celebrating the city's civil rights history was unveiled Friday in its downtown area.

The historical marker sits on Green Street, steps away from the Market House where the city's civil rights demonstrations happened 60 years ago.

The timing of Friday's ceremony also holds significance, as it comes just after the anniversary of one of Fayetteville's most tumultuous, important days of civil rights protests, June 14, 1963. Following an order from the city council, police arrested over 140 people that were demonstrating against segregation downtown.

Cumberland County Commissioner Jeannette Council was among the protestors.

"I didn't know that I was a part of history," Council said.

"A lot of different groups have been formed as a consequence of the groundwork we laid to carry the mission forward. I'm proud of that," said Dr. Willis B. McLeod, a civil rights activist and former chancellor of Fayetteville State University. McLeod was a leader of the protests and one of a number of Fayetteville State students that participated.

"I am humbled by this occasion," McLeod said. "Pleased, proud, and happy."

The marker is part of a larger project being organized by the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, placing commemorative signs at 50 sites of civil rights history across the state.

"What makes this story particularly special is all of the different community members that came to be a part of this. You know, not only was it students. It was also religious leaders, it was also folks from Fort Bragg," said Associate Director Adrienne Nirdé. "I think that piece of the story is unique."

Anyone can learn more about the North Carolina Civil Rights Trail program here.