The history of the South is complex, just as it is in points around the globe. Our story is deep and vast, and most importantly, defined by the lens we wear. North Carolina is rooted in civil rights history.
Inspired by the Greensboro sit-ins, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) began at Shaw University in 1960. Shaw, the oldest historically black university in the South, is around the corner from my son’s school so I often marvel at what those walls hold. Julian Bond, a founding member of SNCC, was instrumental in the group’s organization and growth. Incidentally, he was my professor in college for a course that has moved me more than any other, the History of the Civil Rights Movement. Can you imagine a more apt teacher for such a class? Bond is honored at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in its Hall of Fame.
My husband and son were recently there. This summer my husband has taken each of our sons for a sojourn of their choice within our state. My newly minted 10-year old son chose Greensboro and the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. I had visited there before with my older son so our youngest has been itching to reach double digits so he too could visit. He has studied the civil rights movement in school, and we have been to points all over Washington, D.C., including the Martin Luther King memorial on MLK Day. Yet my son was yearning to learn about the movement that sprouted so close to home.
He was not disappointed.
In fact, as all of us have experienced on our visits there, we left moved, angry, and motivated. We have a new appreciation for the ferocity of the civil rights leaders and the immense risks they took. We feel honored to have seen pieces of history firsthand. Imagine the lump in my throat seeing Julian Bond commemorated, a man whose lectures and stories riveted me at a time in my life when I was grasping to find my way and my own voice.
I am amazed at how few people we know have visited the International Civil Rights Center and Museum. We are lucky to have this bastion of history in our state. There are guided tours, speakers, children’s story time, and more. My son has already asked to go back. This time, in light of national news and a resurgence of civil rights discussions in my own family and across the country, we will experience the museum together with yet a new lens.
“The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is an archival center, collecting museum and teaching facility devoted to the international struggle for civil and human rights. The Museum celebrates the nonviolent protests of the 1960 Greensboro sit-ins that served as a catalyst in the civil rights movement.”
The International Civil Rights Center & Museum is located in downtown Greensboro at 134 South Elm Street.
Summer (April – September)
Monday – Saturday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm
Winter (October – March)
Monday – Saturday 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
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