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Charlotte Talks: Dorothy Counts Integrated CMS In 1957. The Story Behind Her Historic Walk.

Charlotte Observer Image Collection, Courtesy of the RSCR, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library
Iconic photo taken of Dorothy Counts-Scoggins in 1957 when she faced hecklers on her first day at Harding High as its first African American student.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Dorothy Counts helped integrate CMS in 1957 – her historic walk through an angry crowd resulted in a famous photograph. She shares her story.

In 1957, Dorothy Counts integrated Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools. Her historic walk into what was then Harding High resulted in a famous photograph.

Students raised money to have a bench with a plaque honoring Dorothy Counts-Scoggins in front of the school she integrated in 1957.

It depicts her – an African American teenager in a plaid dress, just 15 years old – holding her composure as she walks through a crowd of angry young white boys as they shout racial slurs, throw rocks, and spit at her.

She was recently invited back to her old campus to make that walk again. Except this time she was welcomed with cheers and a plaque commemorating her moment in history.

She joins guest host Gwendolyn Glenn to share her story and talks about what many see as the re-segregation of public education.


Dorothy 'Dot' Counts-Scoggins, Charlotte civil rights figure, she was the first black student to integrate Harding High School in 1957.

James Ferguson, civil rights attorney, he has litigated numerous school desegregation cases in North Carolina.

Credit Erin Keever / WFAE
Dorothy Counts-Scoggins and James Ferguson at WFAE.

Erin Keever is Senior Producer of WFAE's Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. She has been with the show since joining the station in 2006. She's a native Charlottean.