Heritage Commission looking to add markers of people, places of NC's Civil Rights movement

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Wednesday, February 22, 2023
How to apply to get marker added to Civil Rights Trail in NC
A total of 50 markers will go up across the state highlighting the people and places that played a critical role in the civil rights movement in North Carolina.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- During Black History Month, ABC11 is spotlighting the NC Civil Rights Trail. A total of 50 markers will go up across the state highlighting the people and places that played a critical role in the civil rights movement in North Carolina.

The NC African American Heritage Commission is taking applications for the project which started in 2021 and will complete in 2023. Currently, 25 markers have been approved, and about half are installed.

"We want to join communities in choosing the spots that they think should be on the trail," explained Adrienne Nirdé, Associate Director of the NC African American Heritage Commission.

"We're marking a protest rally and sit in sites, birthplaces, childhood homes, and residences of civil rights icons, places where they might have stayed, visited, or spoke educational institutions are involved, as well as those with legal or courthouse connections where certain decisions might have been made," Nirdé added.

Some of the markers highlight well-known efforts, others, unsung. In Raleigh, on Oberlin Road, a marker is up for the Holt family. Joe Holt Jr. was in junior high and became the first black student to challenge Raleigh's segregated school system when his parents applied to have him attend the school within walking distance.

"I applied to go to Josephus Daniels Junior High School," explained Joe Holt, Jr.

"This was in August of 1956, two years after Brown versus Board. My mother wrote to the Superintendent of the Raleigh City Schools and he denied my enrollment. He said the applications were too late, but there wasn't even a deadline.

He asked my mother, 'why is it, why do you want your son to go to school here?' She didn't get into the racial matter.

She was a schoolteacher, so, she just focused on the inconvenience of the kids here in the Oberlin community, the African-American kids having to ride all the way across town to Ligon High School," Holt Jr. explained.

The Holt family endured years of denials for school integration while having threats on their lives.

They took their case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Delays and decisions sent the case back to state courts and dragged on so long that Holt Jr. graduated and went to college.

For the role The Holt family played in paving the path for equal education, they are now honored on the NC Civil Rights Trail.

If you have a location or person you'd like to honor, applications are now being accepted in the Round IV cycle until March 31, 2023. The next round of applications will be accepted from April - September 29, 2023.

More Black History in NC

Black cultural life in Raleigh getting a museum to call its own on city's southeast side

Work is underway in southeast Raleigh to create the city's first African American Cultural Center.

Rediscovering the history of Raleigh's Black neighborhoods

Segregation and racist deed covenants kept Black families, newly freed from slavery, from buying or renting in Raleigh proper.

Effort ongoing to record the untold Black history at Raleigh's Dix Park