‘Going down South (!) for a lesson in racial relations’

“To see busing succeed [in 1974], Americans could look to the South. In Charlotte, North Carolina, 16-year-old Tina Gouge was one of many busing pioneers. At West Charlotte High School, Gouge’s student government committee started a campaign to write letters to Boston’s students and citizens. Gouge, an African American, acknowledged her initial trepidation at the prospect of a 12-mile bus ride. But she eventually found integration to be ‘a fantastic experience.’ She counseled Boston’s students to exercise patience and openness. Don Turbyhill, a white student, wrote, ‘You can’t expect to adjust overnight — but please give it a chance.’

“The Charlotte students then extended an invitation to their Boston brethren. In the last week of October, four students from Hyde Park High School traveled to North Carolina. As Linda Lawrence, a 17-year-old Bostonian, admitted, ‘I never thought I’d be going down South for a lesson in racial relations.’ The world turned upside down.”

— From “All Eyes are Upon Us: Race and Politics from Boston to Brooklyn” by Jason Sokol (2014)

Even in 1974 not everyone thought so highly of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools.  And of course that was far from the end of the CMS desegregation story


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