It was Time!
Reverend Albert Williams, the first black firefighter in Chapel Hill, visited with all of the 8th graders at Smith Middle School in February, 2014. He shared his memories of “Big John”--the owner of Colonial Drug store, the site of the first sit-ins in Chapel Hill. With an eloquence that comes from struggle and wisdom, Williams shared: Big John was not a bad man. In fact, Big John was a really good man who took care of people, but he was caught by the lines of race that we had drawn for ourselves. He was not prepared for us to step over them. But we had to; it was time to. The students listened in rapt silence to his narrative of how intertwined race and class were in the South. They followed up with rapid fire questions: Did you think that what you did was wrong later? Why didn’t you just give up after all that trouble? How did you decide what to do? How did you keep going on?