Former mayor of Durham, Wensell “Wense” Grabarek, died on Sunday, Dec. 15 at the age of 100.
Grabarek entered office just as the Civil Rights movement reached a boiling point in May of 1963. Police were ready with tear gas as mass demonstrations advocating for integration took over the city. After 850 protesters were arrested, the new mayor asked permission to speak at a rally at St. Joseph’s AME Church. Standing at the pulpit, he acknowledged the congregation’s grievances and asked for time to find a solution.