I made a pilgrimage recently to the civil rights exhibit in the Briggs building in downtown Raleigh. Displayed there is a full-page ad from The Raleigh Times of May 15, 1963. It says, “We pledge that we the undersigned, as residents of the Raleigh area, will continue to patronize and support those businesses which abolish the practice of segregation, and that we will urge others to do likewise.” Below that is a long list of names.
The ad ran more than a year before the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was even introduced. I have always considered the ad to be a roll of honor.
The first name on the list is J. Allen Adams. He didn’t choose being first – it was alphabetical order. But knowing he would likely be first didn’t deter him.
That ad was the first thing that came to mind when I heard of Al Adams death last week. Maybe it wasn’t the most notable thing he accomplished in his long life of service to his community. But it was emblematic of the rest. He was not afraid to take a stand for what is right.
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