"True Peace is not merely the absence of some negative force, it is the presence of justice."

-Martin Luther King, Jr. 

Explore the History

Learn about Honorees

Hubert Robinson

Hubert Robinson broke the color line in politics when he won election to the Board of Aldermen in 1953. He was a leader of the Negro Civic Club and First Baptist Church. In 1963, he and Adelaide Walters cast the only yes votes on the Board of Aldermen for the Public Accommodations Ordinance.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Joe Straley

Joe Straley opposed Jim Crow in Chapel Hill during the 1950s and helped found the Community Church. He was a tireless worker for racial justice, civil liberties, and an opponent of US wars of intervention. He served on the Chapel Hill Town Council and led the Carolina Taskforce on Central America (CITCA).

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Lucy Straley

Lucy Straley was a longtime member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). On this ground, she participated in the nation’s longest anti-Vietnam War vigil and protested US intervention abroad until her death.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Gloria Williams

Gloria Williams was a key organizer of the 1960 civil rights protests and served on the Mayor’s Human Relations Council. She was active in school desegregation and tirelessly worked for racial justice. She directed the Chapel Hill Housing Authority (first full-time director, appointed by Howard Lee) and Joint Orange Chatham Community Action (JOCCA).

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Charlotte Adams

Charlotte Adams, a lifelong peace and civil rights activist, founded the local branch of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1935. From 1967 to 1973, she attended a vigil every Wednesday afternoon protesting the Vietnam War. In 1970, she and some friends began monitoring the local courts to protect the rights of defendants. She continued to monitor the courts until 1978 when she helped to found the Dispute Settlement Center in Carrboro.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Joe Herzenberg

Joe Herzenberg was a member of the Town Council; a historian; an advocate for social, environmental, and economic justice; and the first openly gay elected official in North Carolina. He was a Freedom Summer volunteer in Mississippi in 1964 and continued his racial justice advocacy in Chapel Hill.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Henry Anderson III

Hank Anderson became the first black Parks and Recreation Director in North Carolina in 1969. He founded the Hank Anderson Breakfast Club, served as a Carrboro alderman, and was a leader of the NAACP.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

John K. Chapman

John Kenyon Chapman, known as Yonni, was a life-long social justice activist, organizer, and historian who focused his academic and social career on workers' rights and African American empowerment in central North Carolina.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2011

James Brittian

James Brittian was a life-long civil rights activist in Chapel Hill. He was first arrested for protesting Jim Crow segregation in 1960 when he was just 15 years old. He later became leader of the local chapter of the NAACP, which today awards local social justice activists with the annual James Brittian Founders award.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Rebecca Clark

Rebecca Clark began working at UNC in 1937. She retired in 1979, after 42 of service. During her tenure, she tirelessly advocated for higher wages and better working conditions. In 1953, she became a nurse’s aide for the University and was the first licensed practical nurse to work in the campus infirmary. She was a renowned voting rights advocate for the Black community in Chapel Hill and played an instrumental role in the election of Howard Lee.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2011

Dan Pollitt

Dan Pollitt was a UNC law professor, civil liberties lawyer, progressive activist, and staunch advocate and defender of civil liberties and civil rights. He fought for the racial integration of schools and establishments in Chapel Hill and throughout North Carolina by way of his contributions to legal cases as well as his scholarly writings and frequent community speaking engagements.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2011

Mildred Ringwalt

Mildred Ringwalt brought Quaker witness to the streets of Chapel Hill on issues of peace, justice, equal rights and human rights. Rebecca Clark and she founded the local Welfare Rights Organization to empower poor women. She co-founded the Interfaith Council and Carolina Friends School.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2009

Bill Thorpe

Bill Thorpe, served on Town Council. In 1984, his work led to Chapel Hill making the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr an official Town holiday, marking Chapel Hill as the first in the state and one of the first cities in the nation to do so. Thorpe also set into motion renaming Airport Road Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in 2005.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2015

Charles Jones

Charles Jones played a pivotal role in the Chapel Hill leg of the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation (also known as the first Freedom Ride ). In 1953, he helped found the Community Church in Chapel Hill with a stated focus on unity in Christian essentials, liberty in non-essentials, and charity in all things. He was a dedicated civil rights activist throughout 1950s and 60s.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2011

Dean Smith

Dean Smith was head basketball coach at UNC for 36 years. During his tenure, he actively participated in Chapel Hill’s Civil Rights Movement, working to desegregate local business in the early 1960s. He also integrated the Tar Heels basketball team by recruiting Charlie Scott as the university's first black scholarship athlete.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2015

Mildred Council

Mildred Council, known by nearly everyone as “Mama Dip” was the founder and cook of Mama Dip's Kitchen in Chapel Hill. Council founded Chapel Hill’s annual community dinner, an event with the motto “sit down with a stranger and make a new friend.” Council served on the Orange County Prison Board and hired prisoners and those struggling with substance abuse once they got out of jail.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2019

Harold Foster

As a student at Chapel Hill’s Lincoln High School, Harold Foster inspired and led fellow students in Chapel Hill’s first direct-action protests, sparking the local Civil Rights Movement. He became a leader in the local movement, collaborating with both community elders and UNC students to create an integrated coalition. Foster was jailed for being a conscientious objector to the Vietnam War. While imprisoned, he taught literacy classes to his fellow inmates.

Added to Peace & Justice Plaza: 2019

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