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North Carolina school desegregation collection

 Collection — Box: SFC4 [F09.090.03.02], Folder: 413
Identifier: MS0413

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.

Related Materials

Charles A. McLean Papers, Mss 250 ; Irwin Avenue Open School Records, Mss 356 ; Louise Woods Papers, Mss 369 ; Ros Mickelson Papers, Mss 378 ; Charlotte City Board of Education Records, Mss 1 ; E. K. Fretwell Papers, Mss 200 ; Kathlee Cox Hicks Papers, Mss 173 ; Louise A. Lawing Papers, Mss 122 ; Mecklenburg County Board of Education Records, Mss 2 ; Margaret Whitton Ray Papers, Mss 131 ; Harry Golden Collection, Mss 20.

Processing Information

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

Repository Details

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

About this Site

Finding aids are guides to archival collections, including manuscripts, university records, and oral history collections. These guides help you find physical collections which can be viewed in the Dalton Reading Room on the 10th floor of Atkins Library. A small number of finding aids link to digital content online. Please contact us to learn more or to schedule an appointment:

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