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Race & Equity

Charlotte civil rights leader Julius Chambers honored with greenway Trail of History statue

Julius Chambers statue Little Sugar Creek Greenway.jpg
Claire Donnelly
The new statue of Julius Chambers is seen on Charlotte's Little Sugar Creek Greenway near Kings Drive on Nov. 1, 2021.

A statue honoring civil rights leader Julius Chambers was unveiled over the weekend along the Little Sugar Creek Greenway in midtown Charlotte. The bronze statue depicting Chambers is located at the main fountain in the section of the greenway off South Kings Drive.

Chambers, who died in 2013, was a lawyer whose Charlotte firm filed dozens of suits against school segregation and racial discrimination. He won a case in the U.S. Supreme Court that forced Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools to desegregate in 1971.

Chambers’ statue is part of the Trail of History, a collection of statues commemorating the lives of people important to the history of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County. Chambers joined Thaddeus Lincoln Tate as the second Black man included on the trail. Tate was a business owner and civil rights leader.

In October 2020, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School Board voted unanimously to rename a high school after Chambers. And earlier this year, Charlotte’s Derita Station Post Office was also renamed in honor of the civil rights attorney.

Julius Chamber statue unveiling
Pictured from left: Mecklenburg county commissioners Chair George Dunlap; county Manager Dena Diorio; statue of Chambers; sculptor Ed Hamilton; David Taylor, president and CEO of the Harvey G. Gantt Center for African-American Arts + Culture; and Tyrone Harmon, CEO of Harmon Construction.

Statue project manager and board member David Taylor told The Charlotte Observer that the decision to honor Chambers was an easy one.

“He was a giant in the Civil Rights Era,” Taylor told the newspaper. “He was that voice for the voiceless and a beacon of hope that was so important for so many people during that time.”

Derrick Chambers, Chambers’ son, told The Observer that the family is honored by the statue.

“It’s been an awesome few years… the honors that have come through for my father,” he’s quoted as saying. “It’s well deserved. We’re all so honored to be related to him.”

WFAE's Ann Doss Helms and Nick de la Canal contributed reporting.

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