The Orange County Community Remembrance Coalition formed organically in the summer of 2018, in response to the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. A group of friends and colleagues convened a meeting to talk about the pressing need to recognize the sufferings and sacrifices of our foremothers and forefathers in ways that would respect them and their descendants, as well as the affected communities, past and present.
We agreed to establish a coalition with at least five community-based organizations that have civil rights, equity and justice as part of their mission or vision. We were aware that other community members were interested in a remembrance initiative and decided to host an inaugural reception, to which we invited all concerned parties. OCCRC currently includes:
- Center for Civil Rights: UNC School of Law
- Center for the Study of the American South
- Chapel Hill Carrboro Chapter of the NAACP
- Free Spirit FREEDOM [under the Hillsborough Arts Council]
- Human Kindness Foundation
- Marian Cheek Jackson Center
- Orange County Arts Commission
- Orange County Human Relations Commission
- Rogers-Eubanks Neighborhood Association
- Sonja Haynes Stone Center at UNC-CH
- Town of Chapel Hill
- United Church of Chapel Hill
The OCCRC co-chairs and advisor are:
James E. Williams, Jr., co-chair, is an attorney and recently retired Public Defender for District 15B, Orange and Chatham Counties NC, and also serves as Vice Chair of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Chapter of the NAACP. He was born and raised in Washington County, NC during the days of Jim Crow. Williams, a staunch advocate for justice, attended the grand opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice on April 26, 2018,
Renée A. Price, co-chair, is Co-Founder/Project Director of Free Spirit FREEDOM, a local cultural arts initiative, and also serves as Commissioner/Vice-Chair of the Orange County Board of Commissioners. Free Spirit FREEDOM uses photographs, historic images, narratives, storytelling and music to explore and highlight the history of Orange County through the lens of people of color, in particular, to honor the legacy of African–Americans, celebrate our diverse heritage, and advance the cultures of all peoples.
Freddie L. Parker, PhD, Professor Emeritus, is a recently retired Professor of American history, with a particular focus on African American history in North Carolina. He served as Chair of the History Department at North Carolina Central University. Parker is a native of Orange County, NC, and challenged Jim Crow to bring about desegregation in public schools in the late 1960s.
With Parker, Williams and Price at the helm, OCCRC is eager to proceed with a soils collection project and continue to bring to light the truth. The soil at the location—even an approximate location—of a lynching retains our story; the soil is tangible and visual, and helps us to connect with our foremother, forefathers and past experiences. The soil contains the blood, ashes and DNA of the victims, as well as the tears of those who cried in horror and sorrow.
We have hopeful clues as to the location of the lynching of Manly McCauley based on newspaper articles, historical records and oral testimony from a descendant of one of the men in the lynching mob. We have information on the families involved, their homesteads, the church and cemetery, and the likely location of the lynching—near the intersection of present day Hatch Road and Old Greensboro Road.