North Carolina school desegregation collection
Scope and Contents
The North Carolina School Desegregation collection is a small collection of mostly published materials, such as pamphlets, concerning the public school desegregation.
- Creation: 1955 - 1956
Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Some material may be copyrighted or restricted. It is the patron's obligation to determine and satisfy copyright or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections.
Biographical / Historical
In the history of the civil rights movement in the United States, a landmark legal case that ushered in an era of change was the historic Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954. The Supreme Court decreed that schools that were said to be “separate but equal” were inherently unequal; and directed public schools to integrate racially “with all deliberate speed.” Nevertheless, there was resistance to this decision throughout the country. In North Carolina, political and educational leaders formed committees to discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling and its requirement to integrate public schools. Groups, such as the Patriots of North Carolina, Incorporated, organized to denounce the court ruling and to revive the traditional Southern notion of “states’ rights.” The first course of action taken by the governor of North Carolina, William B. Umstead, was to instruct the University of North Carolina’s Institute of Government to study the ways in which the court ruling would affect North Carolina public schools. The Institute issued a report, saying that the state and the local public schools could take any of three courses of action: resistance (either passive resistance or open defiance), unquestioning acceptance, or delaying as much as possible.
After receiving the Institute’s report, Governor Ulmstead appointed an advisory committee to establish a policy that would “preserve the State public school system by having the support of the people.” This committee later reported “that the mixing of the races forthwith in the public schools throughout the state cannot be accomplished and should not be attempted.” This committee also recommended the establishment of another committee (a permanent one) to continue studying the issue, and that the legislature should pass a statute that would transfer the authority of student enrollment and school and classroom assignment from the state to local school systems. Governor Umstead died in the fall of 1954 and Luther H. Hodges was sworn in to take his place.
The new governor endorsed this committee’s report, and in following its recommendation for a continuing advisory committee, established the Pearsall Committee, led by Thomas Pearsall, to continue studying the issue. One of the published reports of the Pearsall Committee is in this collection. Ultimately, the Pearsall Committee acknowledged that North Carolina and its school systems would have to acquiesce to the Supreme Court’s ruling, though in its reports it offered strongly worded phrases of resentment aimed at the Court and at the idea of desegregation. (Bagwell 86-88, 94-95) Full integration of public schools in North Carolina did not come quickly, easily or without conflict, though it was accomplished over time.
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Language of Materials
The N.C. School Desegregation collection, 1955-1956 (mss 413), is a small assortment (one folder) of mostly published material, generated by the faction that was opposed to the racial desegregation of public schools. The organizer of this material is not known.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Purchased from Bartleby’s Books in July 2009.
Processed by Robert A. McInnes
- North Carolina school desegregation collection
- Robert A. McInnes
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description
- Script of description
- Code for undetermined script
- Language of description note
Part of the Manuscript Collections, J. Murrey Atkins Library Special Collections and University Archives, UNC Charlotte Repository
Atkins Library, UNC Charlotte
9201 University City Blvd
Charlotte NC 28223 United States