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This Woman Desegregated All-White School at 15 Years Old

By: Krystle Crossman

In 1957 segregation in schools was commonplace. Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was just 15 years old. She got dressed and headed out for her first day of high school. She didn’t realize the terror that she was about to face. Before she even got to the building she had people spitting on her, cursing at her, telling her to go back to Africa, and had trash thrown at her. Harding High was a rough spot for a young black student, especially since she was the first black student to attend the Charlotte, NC high school. She had a friend at the beginning but that friend stopped talking to her and avoided her at all costs within a week. She was spit on constantly, berated, and assaulted. Her parents were worried but the police told her that they couldn’t guarantee her safety at the school.

Counts-Scoggins left the school after just four days. She was ignored by the teachers. She was made to feel like she didn’t matter and that she was invisible. The students were still bullying her. She didn’t feel safe or welcome. Even though she was the first black student at the school, officially desegregating it, she was forced out. She fought hard for other schools to become desegregated and is still fighting today at the age of 73. She is at the center of the battle to decide whether Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools should separate their classrooms by socioeconomic class. The schools already re-segregated and now this would just be another separation tactic.

Along with fighting against further segregation at Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools, Counts-Scoggins is fighting the school boards because they are trying to lower the concentration of poor kids who are in the schools. Right now there is already a separation of classes as kids generally go to the school that is closest to their neighborhood. The affluent students go to the schools in the higher end neighborhood and the poor students go to the schools in the impoverished neighborhoods. There is very little integration between the classes already. Counts-Scoggins is hoping that she can rally the community together to vote against the change and to enlighten everyone as to why this is wrong and outdated. She stated that her four days in Harding High changed her life but not necessarily for the better. She wants to show other people what happened to her and wants to encourage them to make the school systems better so it doesn’t happen to other children who just want an education.

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One thought on “This Woman Desegregated All-White School at 15 Years Old

  1. Hinda

    Why not re-segregate the schools and make them separate and equal? The majority of whites in America will never be able to understand that they are not superior people. They don’t have the capacity to co-exist with blacks. So re-segregation would be best. Make the schools equal. I want black teachers and equal equipment. I went to a segregated school with excellent black teachers. I had no difficulties with the class work at UCBerkeley and USF..


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