Segregated Stairways? (Yes – Fifty Years Ago)


NINETY-SEVEN. That’s how many stairs African-American movie-goers had to walk up at the Carolina Theater in Durham, North Carolina.  After climbing the stairs and purchasing tickets, they sat in designated balcony seating – the only place they were allowed to sit.     

Then the civil rights movement brought all kinds of changes. In July 1963, the stairway and the seating requirements were desegregated.  

Today, the side entrance to the theater is unmarked. The staircase is nicely carpeted in red with wooden rails. While it is still in use, customers seem to prefer the front entrance stairs and the elevator. The elevator to the second balcony now opens to a permanent exhibit of large, black and white photographs called “Confronting Change.” This display is, perhaps, the Carolina Theater’s self-conscious examination of civil rights history.


(Adapted from the article by Dawn Baumgartner Vaughan, Feb. 26, 2014.)


Photo source:


South African Gumboot Dancing


Gumboots are like wellington boots, the kind worn to walk through puddles or mud.  As conditions in many South African mines were sometimes knee-deep water, gumboots were necessary attire. 

Gumboot Dancing was born of restrictions, resourcefulness, and the love of dance. Black African miners used to talk, sing and drum when they worked. But authorities punished the miners for these activities.  A new form of communication was born! In their gumboots, some affixed with bells, the miners stomped out coded messages to each other.  You can imagine “The boss is coming” was one such message.

Gumboot dancing is still used in the mines. But you can witness it above ground as well – in plazas where tourists congregate such as the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront in Cape Town.