Charlotte integration pioneer reflects on changes at CMS - | WBTV Charlotte

Charlotte integration pioneer reflects on changes at CMS

(Steve Crump/WBTV) (Steve Crump/WBTV)
(Steve Crump/WBTV) (Steve Crump/WBTV)
(Steve Crump/WBTV) (Steve Crump/WBTV)
(Steve Crump/WBTV) (Steve Crump/WBTV)

Without question, Dorothy Counts-Scoggins has one of the most well known names in Charlotte and is one of our city's most recognizable faces.

Courage, grace and poise came into the public and global view during 1957, when Counts-Scoggins was the first of her race who attempted to integrate the then all-white Harding High School.

So it was by design, Counts-Scoggins would be 2017's featured commencement speaker at Westerly Hills Academy.

In addressing more than 40 graduates, Counts-Scoggins reflected on the past. "Almost 60 years ago, I took an important step in my life to change our education system," Counts-Scoggins said.

Eighth-graders headed into high school, their families, as well as faculty and staff members were Counts-Scoggins target audience. However, the exiting class at Westerly Hills Academy lacked diversity.

A clear majority of those students moving on to high school from Westerly Hills Academy are either black or Latino. "And that's disappointing to me, because I fought for change and why people can't understand that," Counts-Scoggins said. 

Counts-Scoggins' conclusion is that many schools across the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools system have become re-segregated.

"We live in a global society and children need to learn from each other," Counts-Scoggins said. 

However, Counts-Scoggins remains hopeful, and offered students a very personal challenge based on her well-documented life experiences that started on the campus of Harding High back in September 1957.

"Make me proud that the journey I started for you is not in vain," Counts-Scoggins said.  

Counts-Scoggins' journey is rooted in valor with valuable lessons for a new generation of admirers.

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