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Following the footsteps of march toward equality

Fifty years ago Monday, Reginald Hawkins led a march from the Johnson C. Smith University campus to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse to demand an end to segregation in Charlotte.

Hawkins’ son, Reginald Hawkins Abdullah Salim Jr., participated Monday morning in a re-creation of that march, which is considered a watershed event in race relations for Charlotte.

The event, part of the “From Sit-Ins to Eat-Ins” observance this week in Charlotte, began at the JCSU campus on Beatties Ford Road. From there, participants marched to the old county courthouse on Trade Street.

During the 1963 events, then-Mayor Stan Brookshire joined with African-American leaders to desegregate Charlotte restaurants. The May 20 march, which came on the anniversary of the signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence in 1775 – more than one year before the U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed – ended with Hawkins declaring: “We want freedom and we want it now!”

A number of other events are scheduled this week to mark the 50th anniversary of the desegregation march.

On Wednesday and Thursday, people are encouraged to take someone of a different race to lunch. And a community festival is scheduled from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Levine Museum of the New South, 200 E. Seventh St.

Observer Staff Reports

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