Unity Rally – Facing Down the KKK 1987
A silent vigil by 125 Durhamites of all races, faiths, and sexual orientations met 63 members of the KKK when they marched through downtown Durham on June 14, 1987. Wearing checkered arm bands, the coalition powerfully announced their disapproval of this blatant display of hatred.
On Sunday, June 14th, 1987, sixty-three members of the Ku Klux Klan marched through downtown Durham chanting “K-K-K! K-K-K!,” Across the state, Klansmen branches in Raleigh, Charlotte, and Greensboro were also rallying to grow their ranks by recruiting new members.
When the Ku Klux Klan requested a permit for a march, the Durham Council unanimously condemned their efforts. The First Amendment, however, gave them no choice but to grant the permit. This caused great outrage from council members, church leaders, and the Durham community who immediately mobilized the Durham Coalition for Unity whose purpose was to counter the march.
Durham residents felt that it was their duty to keep the Ku Klux Klan from defacing their city’s values and ideals of racial equality and social well-being. Newspaper ads were placed in the Durham Morning Herald encouraging residents to speak out against this public display of hatred. The City Council held a special meeting to vote on a resolution condemning Klan activity.
Durham activists placed images of Martin Luther King, Jr. alongside advertisements for the counter-march. The Durham Coalition for Unity rallied together, stating that Durham “should not be characterized by those who are proponents of hatred, malice and social injustice who seek to polarize the citizens of Durham.” A call had been placed “upon each citizen of moral integrity and commitment to the racial and social well-being of this city to stand against malice, ignorance, racial hatred and social injustice.” [Insert Picture of Advertisement Here]
Wearing checkered armbands, 125 Durhamites from all races and faiths stood silently. Powerfully expressing their disapproval of the KKK, community members held the vigil on the steps of the Durham County Courthouse on Parish Street. Protesters held signs which read “The KKK is UnAmerican” and “Sheets are for Beds, not for Heads. [Insert Pictures of the Durham County Courthouse on Parrish Street]
The Durham County Courthouse on Parrish Street is a tangible reminder that when faced with a choice, the community of Durham chose to “[emphasize] the city’s strength through diversity and countering a march by the Ku Klux Klan.” “We are all one under God” and this celebration of Unity, Equality & Justice brought together members of all faiths, races, and backgrounds to defend the image of their city.