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Flash point in Charlotte school desegregation honors pioneer
Recognition for Dorothy Counts-Scoggins
 
Published Saturday, June 1, 2019 10:55 am
by Herbert L. White | The Charlotte Post

PHOTO | PAUL WILLIAMS III
Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, the first black student at Harding High School, was welcomed as a hero by students and faculty at Irwin Academic Center, the campus' current name. Counts-Scoggins endured racial slurs and threats of physical violence when she walked to the first day of classes at Harding in 1957.

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History doesn’t always have to repeat itself.

On Sept. 4, 1957, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was met with insults and jeers along Irwin Avenue.

On May 31, 2019, she was met with cheers, hugs and thanks.

Counts-Scoggins, 77, the first black student to desegregate formerly all-white Harding High School, was welcomed at Irwin Academic Center – the campus’ present name – as a civil rights and education advocate. Instead of enduring insults, spitting and racist slurs from a white mob as she did as a 15-year-old, a diverse crowd lined the streets to re-create Counts-Scoggins’ walk and dedicate a bench in her honor.

Counts-Scoggins was one of four African Americans – Gus and Girvaud Roberts and Delois Huntley were the others —to break the color barrier in Charlotte-Mecklenburg three years after the Supreme Court struck down school segregation in Brown v. Topeka Board of Education. They enrolled at Central High, Piedmont Junior High and Alexander Graham Junior High, respectively.

Counts-Scoggins’ parents eventually pulled her from Harding after four days because of safety concerns. She finished high school in Pennsylvania and later earned a degree from Johnson C. Smith University.

The celebration was organized by Irwin fifth-graders Maya McClain and Morgan Winston as part of their Girl Scouts Bronze Award, the highest honor a scout at the junior level can achieve. Maya initiated the idea for the project when she learned there was no mention of Counts-Scoggins’ role in the campus’ history.

Maya and Morgan, who are members of Hornets’ Nest Council Troop 569 at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church, sponsored campus bake sales to raise money for the bench. Maya convinced Lowe’s to donate the bench. As a side benefit, the girls donated extra proceeds to Irwin for students who need help paying for field trips.

Morgan, Irwin’s student body president lobbied the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board and Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles to approve proclamations denoting May 31 Dorothy Counts-Scoggins Day. She also requested the school district install the bench.

“At this time in our history,” reads the proclamation approved May 14 by the school board, “Harding High School and many other institutions had been separated by race and ethnicity to purposely segregate our public schools and this community.

“The bravery of Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, her family and fellow students began to bend the arc of justice towards integrated schools in Charlotte-Mecklenburg as they entered formerly all-white schools.”

 

 

Comments

Mrs Dorothy Counts-Scoggins should be celebrated. I have seen video and still pictures of her historic walk to school surrounded by mean white people. I have often wondered what are those people white people response now. Also has she ever received an apology from any of those white people?
Posted on June 2, 2019
 

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