Realizing desegregation was unavoidable, Charlotte School Board members ordered four black students to attend four non-integrated schools in the area. Dorothy Counts, one of the four students, was assigned to Harding High School and required to report there on September 4, 1957. While escorted by Reginald Hawkins, Counts was heckled, hissed, and spat upon while walking to the school. Counts remained stoical throughout the confrontation. She attended the school for only four days before her father withdrew her from Harding. She then moved to Pennsylvania to continue her education.
The political fallout from the event was tremendous. Coming only months before Little Rock, national and international press witnessed the abhorrence and entrenchment of segregation in North Carolina. The event embarrassed Charlotte lawmakers and business leaders and put significant political pressure on them to end segregation. It also challenged the perception of Charlotte as a racially progressive city.
Dorothy Counts Scoggins now resides in Charlotte.
Richardson, Michael B., "Not Gradually...But Now": Reginald Hawkins, Black Leadership, and Desegregation in Charlotte, North Carolina," The North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. 82, No. 4, July 2005 and The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Story, "Dorothy Counts," www.cmstory.org/people/people.asp?id=15 (accessed May 12, 2009).
See Also:Related Categories: Education, Civil Rights Movement, African American