Dorothy Counts-Scoggins oral history interview 1, circa 2004-2006
Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was the first African American student to attend the all-white Harding High School as part of the Charlotte City Schools' first reluctant attempt at school desegregation in 1957. In this interview, Mrs. Counts-Scoggins reflects on her brief time at Harding and how things have changed for African Americans since that time. She begins by contextualizing the desegregation of schools in Charlotte within the wider African American civil rights movement, and explains that desegregation efforts, initially led by the NAACP, came first. Mrs. Counts-Scoggins then describes her experience attending Harding at the age of fifteen and the reaction of white students and teachers. She was shunned by students and teachers; fellow students threw rocks at her, spit in her food, and broke the windows of her brother's car. She withdrew after four days. She shares her thoughts that there are more opportunities for African Americans today than there were when she was growing up, but prejudice and complacency still hold the black community back. She comments that segregation is no longer the law, but some schools today are mostly white or mostly black because of where people choose to live. Mrs. Counts-Scoggins then discusses how she believes that the family structure has changed from when she was growing up in the 1950s to the time of interview and how those changes have increased discipline problems in schools. She concludes by describing the Biddleville neighborhood where she lived at the time of interview. She talks about how some people perceive it to be dangerous, but she considers it home and she knows her neighbors. It's where she grew up, and she would like to help restore the community.