Race Amity Day Celebration brings racial unity to the forefront in Pittsboro; Presidential praise received for Partners in Racial Justice’s efforts

Michael A. Orona, the U.S. Department of State's Senior Advisor for Global Strategy and Indigenous Rights, presented a letter from President Joe Biden to all who had gathered in Pittsboro for Partners in Racial Justice’s Amity Race Day Celebration on Sunday, June 9. Photo by Jafar Fallahi Photography @jafarfallahi


By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor

PITTSBORO, N.C. — Pittsboro claimed national recognition on June 9 when this small southern town, a few miles from Chapel Hill, put racial unity and community solidarity at the forefront of a Racial Amity Day Celebration made possible by Partners in Racial Justice (PRJ). A letter sent from President Joe Biden acknowledged the organization’s influence and work to promote racial harmony and equity.

The President’s unexpected letter was presented as a gift to the PRJ organization and was read by guest speaker Michael A. Orona, U.S. Department of State Senior Advisor for Global Strategy and Indigenous Rights. President Biden wrote: “It’s proof we can build a democracy worthy of our loftiest ambitions. It shows us the country we can become when we empower all people to reach their full potential. And it’s a reminder that the American Dream is big enough for everyone to succeed.”

Pittsboro is an iconic location for the theme of racial unity. According to its history in Wikipedia, the town was established in the late 18th century and was noted for a number of lynchings and other racial violence in the late 19th century. Like in most southern towns, there are living residents who can recall the “Whites Only” signs and can recount the segregation tensions of the Jim Crow era.
“We are deeply honored by President Biden’s encouraging recognition and support,” said Sue Ballew St. Clair, Executive Director of Partners in Racial Justice (PRJ). “This acknowledgment not only validates our team’s tireless efforts but underscores the importance of our mission. We are committed to continuing our efforts to promote racial justice and build a more inclusive society.”

In another note of recognition, Pittsboro Mayor Kyle Shipp presented an official resolution in which the Town recognized June 9, 2024, as “Race Amity Day.” The crowd of approximately 200 gathered at the United Methodist Church in Pittsboro applauded the resolution.

The event included talks, but the main focus was on “the music that inspires a sense of shared humanity and the oneness of mankind,” said PRJ Founding Director David Hoffman. It began with an electrifying call-and-response performance by the African Drum Band Sankofa, followed by Deja Belle, a Congolese-American singer-songwriter, singing the song reflecting the Race Amity Day theme: a deep yearning for change and a belief that a brighter, better future is within reach.

The centerpiece of the Race Amity Day celebration was a mass choir named “One Human Family.” The group of approximately 75 interracial vocalists from seven predominantly Black and White area churches sang in a unified voice and gave a mesmerizing performance. Dr. Charles Bullock, PRJ Board Member, introduced the choir saying, “ The power of music we are experiencing here today is bridging racial divides.”

The One Human Family Choir performing at Race Amity Day Celebration in Pittsboro. Photos by Jafar Fallahi Photography.

More musical performances followed the chorus, ending with a message from PRJ Founder David Hoffman: “Our mission is to engage in creative ways and means of bringing all people together in the pursuit of racial justice, healing, and unity.”

Hoffman added, “PRJ is a 501(c)3 and needs financial support to continue and expand on its work, which includes regular virtual events, program materials, and training for individuals and groups who want accompaniment in bringing diverse residents of local communities together across racial lines, creating caring relationships that help stem the tide of racism and division in America.”

For more information about Partners in Racial Justice and their ongoing efforts, please visit https://partnersinracialjustice.org or contact David Hoffman at dhoffman@partnersinracialjustice.org.

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 
This reporter can be reached at Info@TheLocalReporter.press

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1 Comment on "Race Amity Day Celebration brings racial unity to the forefront in Pittsboro; Presidential praise received for Partners in Racial Justice’s efforts"

  1. Marjorie J OReilly | June 13, 2024 at 11:38 pm | Reply

    Thank you Michelle. What a beautiful event. We need these events to promote unity and inclusion in our communities.Lovely.

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