“Leaflet written by the participants of the Holy Week fast. ,” UNC Libraries, accessed October 31, 2018, https://exhibits.lib.unc.edu/items/show/846.

This leaflet was written in March of 1964 by four students in Chapel Hill fasting to protest the racial discrimination and segregation occurring in their town and the lack of action taken by the Chapel Hill Board of Aldermen. The initial fast participants were John B. Dunne, LaVert Taylor, Patrick Cusick, and James Foushee—two black students and two white students who all had the common goal of fighting for desegregation in Chapel Hill. Taylor, Dunne, and Cusick were all leaders of different civil rights organizations including Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Student Peace Union, and Congress of Racial Equality. This fast came after the January 13th vote when the Board of Aldermen failed to pass a public accommodations ordinance which would have prohibited discrimination by Chapel Hill restaurants. [1]

This Holy Week fast occurred for the eight days from Palm Sunday to Easter Sunday and received national attention with daily updates from the New York Times. Other students who were less active in the Civil Rights Movement were even inspired to join along in the movement. [2] According to the leaflet, the fast “calls attention to the daily sufferings of the Negro citizens of Chapel Hill” and was done to imitate the non-violent protests of Gandhi. The leaflet also included the names and contact information of each member of the Board of Aldermen and the names of the twenty-nine restaurants that were still segregated.

This leaflet is just one example of the many ways Chapel Hill students and residents used food as a form of protest, both through sit-ins and fasting. Chapel Hill was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement during this time and made their opinions known to their lawmakers through withholding food from themselves as a method of protest. This impacted the Chapel Hill restaurants, but it also brought a lot of attention to an issue that these protesters found important. This time period shows the first signs of black and white students coming together to make their voices heard and engage with politics and activism.

[1] Pollitt, Daniel H. “Legal Problems in Southern Desegregation: The Chapel Hill Story.” 43 N.C. L. Rev. 689 (1965). Available at: http://scholarship.law.unc.edu/nclr/vol43/iss4/3

[2] “2 WHITE YOUTHS JOIN FAST AT CHAPEL HILL.” The New York Times, March 26, 1964.

Maggie Emery