Browse Exhibits (2 total)

Resistance and Reform

The Supreme Court handed down their monumental decision in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 declaring that segregated schools were unconstitutional. This mandate compromised not only the southern system of racial segregation in schools, but threatened an entire lifestyle and culture dominated by racism. In Charlotte, the local NAACP and others immediately began to push city leaders and the local school board to comply with the Court and integrate schools. Change, however, would be slow. Whites resisted slowly, sometimes violently, to school desegregation. Still, black leaders and the community pressed on and advocated for positive changes in local education. And change it did....

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The Impact of Swann

In September 1964, Darius and Vera Swann petitioned the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education for their son James to attend an integrated school. The Swann family recently moved to Charlotte from India where the family worked as missionaries. In India, James did not experience a segregated education, but in Charlotte, the six year old attended the all-black Biddleville School. The Swann family wanted their child to attend the closest school to their home, not an inconvenient school that continued a policy of segregation. At that time, only two percent of black children attended a desegregated school in Mecklenburg County. The school board denied their appeal, and as a result, the Swann family filed a suit against the board. Local civil rights lawyer Julius Chambers and his team represented the case and accused the school board of violating the law by failing to comply with the Constitution on equal grounds. As time elapsed, the lawsuit became a national issue and the Supreme Court ultimately ruled in favor of busing as a legitimate method in order to desegregate public schools....


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