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WBTV special looks at school integration 60 years later

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.


7:30 p.m. Wednesday, WBTV

Few people know that the historic Brown vs. Board of Education case, which in 1954 outlawed racially “separate-but-equal” schools, had roots in the Carolinas. What the Supreme Court heard was a case brought in Topeka, Kan., but it included four other similar suits from around the country, including one brought in Clarendon County, S.C.

In a 30-minute special at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, “Brown at 60: Reading, Writing and Bridging the Racial Gap,” WBTV reporter Steve Crump examines the harvest of six decades of school integration in the Carolinas.

He tells the story of how black parents brought a suit against Clarendon County because their children were required to walk miles to a school, while white children had access to school buses. Among those interviewed with memories of those days is J.A. Delaine Jr.,whose father was active in the suit and suffered personal loss as a result.

Also interviewed is Dorothy Counts-Scoggins, who was the first black student at Charlotte’s Harding High School in 1957 and was spat upon and jeered while walking into the building the first time. She says the racial divide, much reduced, still needs attention nowadays. “We have to learn to trust each other,” she says.

Crump also looks at how many schools remain semi-segregated by economic and social forces today, including those in Clarendon County.

Others offering perspective in the wide-ranging special, produced by Jennifer Torsiello, include Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools superintendent Heath Morrison; U.S. Rep. James Clyburn, whose district includes Clarendon County; and Tom Hanchett, historian at the Levine Museum of the New South.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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