Durham civil rights leader Atwater dies at 80

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) – Durham civil rights leader Ann G. Atwater has died, according to the School for Conversion.

The school said she died Monday at the age of 80.

Atwater was a part of the integration of Durham schools in 1971, and she invited a local Ku Klux Klan leader, C.P. Ellis, to be involved in the process. According to the Durham County Library, they began to talk and soon realized they each wanted better lives for their children.

Ellis renounced his KKK membership and their relationship became the subject of a book and then a play, “The Best of Enemies.” Atwater delivered the eulogy at Ellis’ funeral in 2005.

The School for Conversion, founded in 2002, looks to connect people from different backgrounds. It is located at 923 Onslow Street in Durham.

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