Torch Continues Trek Through North Carolina
DURHAM, N.C. (AP) _ LeRoy Walker, president of the U.S. Olympic Committee and former chancellor of North Carolina Central University, views the Olympic torch relay as an opportunity to unite his past and present.
On Sunday, the first black president of the USOC expressed his gratitude to the people of North Carolina.
``This is sort of a culmination of all the things in the past and all the shoulders I’ve stood on for all these years to get where I am today with my roots here in North Carolina,″ Walker told TV station WTVD.
The torch stopped briefly at the NCCU campus on its way through Durham. The flame spent Saturday night in Raleigh, then started the day traveling through Cary and Morrisville. From there, it headed to Duke University where the bells at the school’s ornate chapel chimed the Olympic theme.
A crowd of thousands gathered for an outdoor service cheered as Duke track coach Al Buehler paused outside the chapel with the torch.
Also carrying the torch through Durham was 1976 Olympic swimmer Marcia Morey, now an assistant district attorney and children’s advocate.
``Twenty years later, it was probably more thrilling to run the Ninth Street of Durham than it was to be in the Olympics because it’s about this, it’s about the kids. It’s about peace and hope,″ she said as she signed autographs.
Ashley Gravitte was among the children who reached out to touch Morey’s torch.
``I thought it was cool,″ said Gravitte, who watched the torch run with her grandmother, father and siblings.
Outside Duke University Hospital, the torch passed to another generation as Thelma Sloan, 90, carried the flame in one hand and her cane in the other. Sloan was North Carolina’s first elected female mayor when she won the top job in the town of Broadway in the late 1950s.
From Durham, the torch made a stop at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill before traveling to Burlington and Greensboro, where it was scheduled to spend Sunday night.
The flame was set to continue its journey through the state until Tuesday before making a quick swing through South Carolina and returning to western North Carolina on Wednesday.