Spring of 1963 was a tense time in the segregated south. The first two weeks of May found the focus of the Civil Rights movement in Birmingham, Alabama, with fire hoses and dogs being turned on demonstrators. N&O writer Bob Lynch covered the demonstrations that were happening in Raleigh at the same time.
Anti-segregation demonstrations by young Negroes led to arrests ... which taxed the capacity of the Wake County jail.
Ninety-two Negroes, most of them students at Shaw University, were arrested on trespass charges at the State House, the Ambassador and State theaters, the downtown S&W Cafeteria and the Sir Walter Coffee House.
It was the first mass arrest of Negro demonstrators since a new wave of segregation protests began here several weeks ago.
Three were taken into custody around 1:30 p.m. in the State House restaurant.
Around 7:30, police were called to the S&W where a half dozen Negro youths had gotten into the food line and refused to leave.
Minutes later another group of seven went to the Sir Walter Coffee House, sat at tables and refused to leave.
After the initial groups were arrested, waves of from six to seven tried their luck at each of the two eating establishments and were in turn arrested on trespass charges and taken away to jail.
While officers were kept busy at the Sir Walter and the S&W, more policemen were dispatched to the two theaters where the managements complained that ticket booths were being blocked by lines of Negro youths seeking admission.
The office at the Wake county Jail became so crowded that elevator service had to be halted until the jail staff, police officers and Sheriff's deputies could catch up on booking the Negroes.
As soon as a group could be booked and moved back to the jail cells, another group would be allowed to enter the office. None of the Negroes made any effort to call a bondsman....
The youths sang hymns, offered prayers and chants. Their singing and hand-clapping could be heard clearly more than a city block from the jail. -- The N&O 5/9/1963
Many days of protests and arrests followed, including a demonstration that interrupted Governor Terry Sanford during the North Carolina Symphony Ball held at the mansion. Bette Elliot, women's editor for The Raleigh Times, covered the event.
Protesting segregated eating facilities at the State House, several hundred young Negroes and a scattering of white boys and girls swarmed over the Mansion grounds ... while inside the cream of Tar Heel society waltzed to the N. C. Symphony orchestra music and dined on beef tenderloin.
This latest demonstration by students, right in the middle of the third annual Symphony Ball, ended on a quiet note after Gov. Sanford made a brief appearance on the Mansion's south porch and told the throng, "I'll be glad to take up any problems you may have. I'll be delighted to give you an appointment in my office."
Apparent leaders of the crowd, estimated at from 300 to 450, were Ralph Campbell, president of the Raleigh chapter, NAACP, and Dr. Grady Davis, president of the Citizen's Assn. The young people would not identify themselves. "We're everybody," one boy said....
The crowd sang and chanted and prayed on their knees for the good part of an hour.
Their loudest "freedom songs' coincided with the appearance inside of opera diva Eleanor Steber. She sang arias throughout the demonstration but the Negroes nearly drowned her out with spirituals. A few of the ball guests, some of them women in elegant full-length ball gowns, watched the crowd from the veranda....
Sanford waited about a half an hour before making his appearance. He was inside greeting the 350 orchestra patrons, and at first apparently, had no intention of speaking to the crowd.
But he changed his mind when the Negroes began chanting, "We want the governor!" -- The Raleigh Times 5/11/1963