Civil Rights pioneer Dorothy Counts-Scoggins honored by students at Harding High

Civil Rights pioneer Dorothy Counts-Scoggins honored by students at Harding High

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Honor came a woman who’s a Civil Rights pioneer and icon in our community. May 31 is Dorothy Counts-Scoggins Day, recognizing that back in 1957 she was one of the first black students to integrate in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools district.

However, her attempt at crossing the color line came with a very heavy cost.

Calling her return to the old Harding High School a “heroes welcome” would be a gross understatement - because it was a moment honoring local Civil Rights royalty.

She is now 77, but what happened on Irwin Avenue at the old Harding High School was an exercise in courage and confidence. Because of her race and the challenge to integrate Charlotte schools, a 15-year-old Dorothy Counts-Scoggins was reviled in 1957, but in 2019 she is applauded and revered in her home town.

“That day was not good for me,” she told a crowd of students, teachers and school board members. “That day will always be part of my life.”

9-4-57: Charlotte School Integration

Morgan Winston and her fellow Girl Scout Maya McClain, of Troop 569, spearheaded the effort to bring honor and recognition to the woman who navigated through a sea of volatile taunts, harassment and abject humiliation.

“I would like to thank Miss Counts-Scoggins for her sacrifice. Her bravery in the face of brutal racism helped break down racial barriers. So now I can climb these same steps,” McClain said.

Recreating the meaningful steps she took on September 4, some 62 years ago, was symbolic. However, the Girl Scouts found another way of paying tribute.

They raised money for a bench remembering the date and her date with destiny.

Because of their efforts, Morgan and Maya were awarded the Bronze Award - which is the highest award a junior Girl Scout can receive.

And as a parting shot, the celebrated honoree took stock in how our community has moved forward.

“This will be a forever memory,” Counts-Scoggins said, “not only for me, but for this community and all the students that are attending this school.”

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