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Dorothy Counts-Scoggins is inspired by event 57 years ago

Editor's note: This story was written as a part of the Observer's Explorer Post program, which gives high school students the chance to learn about journalism.

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins is an African-American woman who was brave enough to step into an all-white school filled with people who may not have been fond of her.

At the age of 14 saw the terrible side of humans. She is a woman who believes in equal human rights.

As soon as she stepped into Harding High School in 1957, Scoggins received harassment from the students and from adults who did not believe that an African-American should attend the same school as their children.

Students taunted and spat on her while she walked through the hallways of the high school.

Scoggins felt confused as she walked through those hallways the first day.

"I did not understand why people did not accept me for who I was," she said. "I felt that I had the right to be there."

The taunting continued the next day when she came back to school and eventually, after the fourth day, her parents withdrew her from the school because of the immense amount of insults she was receiving.

Scoggins moved to Pennsylvania to finish high school but came back to Charlotte to attend college at Johnson C. Smith University, where she earned a degree in psychology and sociology. She started working in childcare.

Scoggins said choosing her career came natural to her. She has wanted to help people since she can remember.

When she was younger she wanted to be a nurse, but mostly she wanted a career where she could make sure the experience she had at Harding doesn't happen to other people.

"Dot is a strong leader with a passion for social justice," said Sue Schreiber, a former coworker. "She openly shares her vast experiences and knowledge about early childhood education with those around her."

Her coworkers describe her as a fair person who is very knowledgeable about her field.

"Dot Counts-Scoggins is a true servant leader," said friend and former coworker Barbara Rein. "She believes that all children should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be amazing."

Added Eunice Murray, another former coworker: "Ms. Dot is an amazing role model for all that came after her and exemplifies strength, poise and beauty in every aspect of her life. She has a passion for people and that is reflected in everything she does."

Scoggins retired more than two years ago and is a mother and grandmother. She said the moment at Harding 57 years ago has impacted her life greatly.

The biggest advice Scoggins has for youth is to get involved.

"Make sure to do a lot of research, know what's going on in the world and read a lot," she said.

And speak out so injustice will not happen.

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