Franklin Street has been a central thoroughfare of the Chapel Hill community, bustling with the activities of black slaves and merchants, KKK marches, and sit-ins. Black merchants (including Barber Tom Dunsten and restaurant owner “Marse” Jesse Jones) had businesses here in the 19th century and many black slaves were employed in the white owned shops during the antebellum era. In 1963-1964, there were a number of sit-ins and protests on Franklin Street. Floyd McKissick (1st black student at UNC) led a march down Franklin Street on February 8, 1964. At 4:15 p.m. the protesters sat down in the middle of Franklin Street (in front of what is now the Bank of America Building) and tied up traffic that was in town for the Wake Forest Basketball game. Ninety-eight people were arrested that day in their attempt at getting Chapel Hill to accept the full desegregation of restaurants, movie theaters, and other public accommodations.
Occupants and Structures of Franklin Street, Chapel Hill North Carolina at 5-Year Intervals, 1793 – 1998, by Bernard Lee Bryant, Jr.