Fri 23 Oct 2009
Yonni Chapman, local historian, stalwart civil rights activist, documenter of Chapel Hill’s struggles for peace, justice and equality, after a long struggle with cancer, has passed on.
I last saw Yonni Aug. 28th at the commemoration of Chapel Hill’s new Peace and Justice Plaza. We talked awhile about the possible Board of Commissioner’s decision to site the new trash transfer facility in the Millhouse/Rogers Road community.
Fighting for consideration of social justice in the decision-making process of siting the transfer facility was just one of many local issues that Yonni helped our community address. He reminded us of the historical context, stressed that we cannot move forward if we forget where we’ve been.
From Yonni’s on-line profile
Privileged white child of the sixties. Became a revolutionary in 1969 at Harvard. Moved to Atlanta to do social justice organizing. Attended Atlanta Area Tech and became a Certified Laboratory Technician. Moved to Chapel Hill area. Worked in Hematology at UNC Memorial Hospital. Chair of Employees Forum. Did grassroots organizing in Chapel Hill with Welfare Rights Organization, CH Tenants Organization, hospital and university workers, Rainbow Coalition of Conscience, Jesse Jackson Campaign, Fred Battle Campaign for School Board, African Liberation Support Committee, Medical Aid for Southern Africa, Central America solidarity campaigns, anti-Apartheid movement, etc. Attended graduate school at UNC in history. Thesis, 1995, Second Generation: Black Youth and the Origins of the Chapel Hill Civil Rights Movement, 1937-1963. Dissertation, 2006, Black Freedom and the University of North Carolina, 1793-1960. Expert Witness for UNC Housekeepers Movement lawsuit; organized campaign to abolish Cornelia Phillips Spencer Bell Award at UNC; UNC Campaign for Historical Accuracy and Truth (CHAT); NAACP/Community Church movement to establish a state highway marker to commemorate the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill; Town of Chapel Hill/NAACP commemoration of nine local leaders at Peace and Justice Plaza. Member of Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). Second Vice Chair, Chapel Hill-Carrboro NAACP and Chair of History Committee. Cancer survivor. Proud father of Sandra and Joyce. Eagerly expectant grandpa.