Hopefully, everyone knows the story of the courageous #Black little girl, Ruby Bridges, the first Black girl to attend an all-white school in Louisiana. A couple of years later another remarkable young Black woman attempted to go to an all-white school in North Carolina by the name of #Dorothy Counts. She was born in 1942 and was one of the first Black students admitted to Harry Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina.
In 1956, forty African-American students applied to be transferred and enrolled in an all-white school in North Carolina. The transfer was a move made after the “Pearsall Plan” in state. The “Pearsall Plan” was North Carolina’s approach to integrate their schools after racial segregation was deemed unconstitutional in the famous Brown v. Board of Education trial. Dorothy Counts was the only Black student enrolled at Harry Harding High School and 3 other students were at other schools.
Counts began to be harassed by the students when the wife of John Z. Warlick, the leader of the White Citizens Council, urged the boys to keep Counts out of the school. While escorted by Reginald Hawkins, Counts was heckled, hissed, and spat upon. The white girls at the school were told “spit on her, girls, spit on her.” Although, the girls were spitting on her and the boys throwing rocks around her feet, Counts held her head high and walked right by them. She did befriend two white girls the next day, but they pulled away from the friendship after they were harassed themselves. The harassment was so bad that Counts family withdrew her from the school within 4 days in order to keep her and the family safe. There were many threats to life of Counts and her family’s. The family eventually moved to Pennsylvania, where Counts attended an integrated school there in Philadelphia.
Counts went on to earn her degree from Johnson C. Smith University. In 2008 she was awarded an honorary diploma from Harding High School. She also received a public apology in 2010 from a member of the crowd which harassed her in 1957. The library at Harding High School was renamed in her honor, Counts-Scoggins.