How we did this story
Information for “Breaking Through” came from Charlotte Observer and Charlotte News archives, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools documents, court documents and interviews with Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick and his family members, lawyer Julius Chambers and more than 20 members of Myers Park and Second Ward football teams. Reference materials also included a 2000 UNC Charlotte thesis by Charles Westmoreland Jr., “Strong legs running: The integration of the North Carolina-South Carolina Shrine Bowl” and “Bowl Full of Miracles,” a 1986 book by Walter J. Klein.
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In 1964, Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick was a sensation at all-black Second Ward High School. He makes a difficult choice to leave his high school teammates and play his senior year of football at predominantly white Myers Park.
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick gets swept up in a civil rights court battle that he did not choose. Racial tension in Charlotte builds, bombs explode and a city thought to be progressive finds itself in national headlines.
Jimmie Lee Kirkpatrick came home to visit Charlotte 47 years after moving from Second Ward to Myers Park, and during two emotional reunions learned that both his black and white high school football teammates learned lasting lessons from his experience.
Game highlights, slideshows, videos at Charlotteobserver.com/myerspark