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Charlotte Talks: The Integration And Desegregation Of Our Schools

Charlotte Magazine

Monday, March 5, 2018

On the next Charlotte Talks we hear from a panel of guests who were instrumental in the integration of our nation's schools. We also discuss how Charlotte has resegregated our schools and what that reality means to today’s students. 

What has happened in the 60 years since Charlotte first integrated its schools?  To hear some of those involved in the first steps to desegregation in 1957, not much.  After years of success with integration, years as a national example, we, once again, have a highly segregated system, this time because of magnets and neighborhood schools.

Dorothy Counts Scoggins was an integral part of that. At the age of 15 she became the first black student to attend Harding High, a previously all-white school in Charlotte. She didn’t even make it into the building before she was spat on, targeted with thrown trash and told was told all sorts of racial slurs by her fellow white students. That moment has had a dramatic impact on her life. To this day she remains a staunch civil rights activist traveling to local communities to educate them on the importance of school diversity.

Melba Pattillo Beals story mirrors Dorothy’s in many ways. Beals was one of nine black students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Ark, who became known as the Little Rock Nine.  Warned by the Little Rock board of education not to attend the first day of school Beals along with the eight other students arrived to the school anyway. They encountered a large white mob in front of the school, who began shouting, throwing stones, and threatening to kill the students. 

During the hour we get the thoughts of some of the integration pioneers on how we got here and what it means going forward.


Dorothy Counts Scoggins- civil rights activist

Melba Pattillo Beals- author of March Forward Girl

David Goldfield- Robert Lee Bailey Professor of History, UNCC