If you’d like to take an informative walk through Monroe’s racial history, let the Public Library of Union County be your guide.Reference Librarian Patricia Poland has planned a one-hour, one-mile walk from the Monroe branch on East Windsor Street to some of the sites that have been significant parts of the city’s African-American history.The walk is part of the library’s celebration of Black History Month and the 150th anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. It will be held at 3 p.m. on Feb. 16 and 17.On the walk, participants will stroll past an early location for Mt. Calvary A.M.E. Zion Church, which was founded in 1867 as the first black church in Monroe, Poland said.They’ll see where former Monroe Mayor Fred Wilson had the sidewalk torn up in front of his dentist office in 1961 to deter Freedom Riders and local protestors from walking there.They’ll learn about People’s Drugstore on Main Street, a pharmacy for African-Americans that Poland says was “probably run by Dr. Hubert Henry Creft, Sr.,” a native of the West Indies who practiced medicine in Monroe for 50 years.Participants also will hear about the Opera House that was used by the black community for live theater until it burned down in 1939, when the stable across the street caught fire. That fire killed dozens of mules and spread to nearby buildings.In addition, they’ll see the Center Theatre’s segregated entrances and visit the site of The Union Theatre, the city’s only movie theater exclusively for African-Americans. And, if time permits, participants will see where civil rights leader Robert Williams and a group of young boys staged a sit-in at a local drugstore. The scenes and character of the town have changed since those days. But even though some of the original buildings are gone or have changed, Poland said their histories provide important lessons.“I have a passion for forgotten, hidden and overlooked history,” she said. “I hope people will learn about it and remember it.”
Friday, Feb. 01, 2013
Union County librarian plans Black History tour
Librarian Patricia Poland is planning a tour of Monroe's African-American History. She says she loves “hidden and overlooked history.” JANE DUCKWALL
Want to go? Registration is required for the Black History tour. Participation is limited to 10 people per walk for safety reasons because the route crosses several streets. If you’d like to go, contact Patricia Poland at email@example.com or 704-283-8184 ext. 224. Those under 16 years old must be accompanied by an adult.