Events, North Carolina History, Special Collections

1947 Civil Rights Effort To Be Topic of Oct. 26 Program


The Long Road to Parchman: North Carolina and the Desegregation of Interstate Busing
Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2011
Wilson Special Collections Library
5 p.m. Reception | Main Lobby
5:30 p.m. Program | Pleasants Family Assembly Room
Free and open to the public
Information: Liza TerllFriends of the Library, (919) 548-1203

Listen! Derek Catsam on WUNC’s State of Things

An early civil rights effort with ties to Chapel Hill will be the topic of a discussion Wednesday, Oct. 26, in the Wilson Special Collections Library. The event is free and open to the public.

Historian Derek Catsam will examine the Journey of Reconciliation, an early effort to desegregate interstate bus travel. In 1947, an interracial group of sixteen activists from the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) rode through four southern states in order to test a 1946 Supreme Court ruling that banned segregated bus travel. Police arrested the group in Chapel Hill and a local mob beat them upon their release from custody.

Joining Catsam will be playwright and actor Mike Wiley. Wiley’s play The Parchman Hour celebrates the bravery and determination of a later group of activists, the Freedom Riders, who took inspiration from the Journey of Reconciliation. In 1961, the interracial group of more than 400 activists challenged Jim Crow laws that continued to segregate interstate travel in the South. The Parchman Hour will run at PlayMakers Repertory Company Oct. 26 through Nov. 13.

Catsam is associate professor of history at the University of Texas of the Permian Basin and author of the book Freedom’s Main Line: The Journey of Reconciliation and the Freedom Rides (University Press of Kentucky), which also recalls North Carolina stops on the Freedom Rides. Catsam is currently working on a book about bus boycotts in the U.S. and South Africa in the 1940s and 1950s.

Wiley received his Master of Fine Arts degree from UNC in 2004. He was the 2010 Lehman Brady Visiting Joint Chair Professor in Documentary Studies and American Studies at UNC and Duke. His most recent works include playing all the roles in the one-man play based on Tim Tyson’s memoir Blood Done Sign My Name.

This event is sponsored by the North Carolina Collection, the Southern Historical Collection, and the Friends of the Library.

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