Among the many events scheduled around the Triangle to commemorate the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is a public screening and a broadcast of An Unlikely Friendship, a fascinating documentary by Chapel Hill filmmaker Diane Bloom.
This film recounts an extraordinary meeting of antagonists that took place in Durham, in the summer of 1971. Although King was three years deceased by then, Durham was still shaking off the cold clutch of Jim Crow repression and trying to comply with a federal court order to complete its school desegregation. City leaders convened an emergency ten-day charrette in which representatives of the community would hash out their differences.
To the amazement of all who were present at the time, the charrette was co-chaired by a black activist named Ann Atwater and a white supremacist named C.P. Ellis. What transpired over those ten days surpassed the wildest, most fervent dreams of those who continue to entertain King’s dream of everyone seated together at the table of brotherhood. In addition to a free screening Friday at the Richard White Auditorium at Duke, An Unlikely Friendship airs Monday, Jan. 19, on WUNC-TV at 10:30 p.m.