Sustaining Through Struggle

Pastor Harrison’s words have become the banner of our collective work: remembering the importance of sustaining our community through struggle and celebration.  The accompanying photograph is just one of many representing the work of these last five years of bringing people together, in this instance, to make history by honoring the legacy of Yonni Chapman.  Chapman, a lifetime activist and civil rights historian, celebrated with us on our first MayDay, donated his 600 volumes of historical resources, and inspired much of our civil rights education work today.  

Reverend Troy F. Harrison

from Martin Luther King Day Address

January 2009 First Baptist Church


There’s a struggle going on

yet dreams

never die.

It is in the midst of struggle

that dreams become a reality

It’s in the midst of struggle

that dreams take on new meaning and

provide new hope for those who are oppressed and struggling

Dreams never die.


But not just in our nation

do we still experience injustice, corruption,

but even in our own community.


There’s a struggle

going on.


And what we have to come together as a community and understand

is that Chapel Hill is--is not just

the historic district

Chapel Hill is not just

the elitist district

but Chapel Hill is composed of Richfield uh-huh

and Rogers Road c’mon

and Northside. yes



And decisions and policies that we make

ought to embrace dreams.

Dreams of a better place

--and a better time

--and a better situation

for all of Chapel Hill.


And the dream is embodied in each of you who are under the sound of my voice.

. . .

It is important that we come together

as a community

To speak out and to continue to cry loud and spare not,

be the voice of crying out in the wilderness for righteousness

and justice,

in the face of injustice

when there is environmental injustice in our community .

I say to you

don’t let the dream die . . .

Like Doctor King, I too have a dream. alright

My dream is embedded in the vision

that God has for his world,

that the faith community

would be his--his kingdom building agency

that will eliminate injustices

that would kill racism

that would stop economic


in this country.

I have a dream.

I have a dream that people will still be judged by the content of their character

and not the color of their skin.

Because let’s think about it as we think about gentrification

and this--this progression of sustainability


Sustainability as defined by who?


What has sustained this community

is the cohesiveness of brothers and sisters working together


What has sustained this community

is churches working together and lifting the voices of the angels

and the archangels


What has sustained this community

has not been brick and mortar


What has sustained this community

has not been an influx of greed


What has sustained this community has been faith.


Faith in a God that never fails- say it

Faith in a God who will always see his people through-

Faith in a God who will always stand by the oppressed yeah, say it

And the downtrodden say it, that’s right


That’s what has sustained this community.


And I would dare anyone who would challenge me on that definition

of sustainability. alright


But what we need is faith amen

in a God who is unable--to fail.

What we need is faith

in each other.

And what we need

is love,

love for

-- all God’s creation.

Dedication of the Yonnie Chapman Memorial Library

Dedication of the Yonnie Chapman Memorial Library at the second annual May Day Festival and debut of the “Facing Our Neighbors” exhibit from which the portraits and transcriptions shown here are drawn.

Sustaining Through Struggle