CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Fifty years ago today, Reginald Hawkins led a march from the Johnson C. Smith University campus to the Mecklenburg County Courthouse, in a demand for an end to segregation in Charlotte.
Hawkins’ son, Reginald Hawkins Abdullah Salim Jr., participated this morning in a re-creation of that march, which is considered a watershed event in racial relations for Charlotte.
The event, part of the “From Sit-Ins to Eat-Ins” observance this week in Charlotte, began at the Johnson C. Smith campus on Beatties Ford Road. From there, participants marched to the courthouse.
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 -- 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, marking the 50th anniversary of the desegregation march.
On Wednesday and Thursday, area residents are being invited 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 East Seventh Street.