Remembering Charlotte civil rights leader Margaret Alexander

Services were held Monday afternoon honoring the life of Margaret Alexander. She died earlier in June at age 97.
Services were held Monday afternoon honoring the life of Margaret Alexander. She died earlier in June at age 97.
Published: Jun. 13, 2022 at 10:06 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - The Queen City has said goodbye to a civil rights legend.

Services were held Monday afternoon honoring the life of Margaret Alexander. She died earlier in June at age 97.

For decades, Mrs. Alexander served as the secretary for the North Carolina NAACP and had a front-row seat to change and history in our community.

When students from Charlotte’s Second Ward High School showcased their place of learning in the 1940′s, Margaret Alexander was honored as the May Queen.

A decade later, she married Kelly Alexander Sr., a mover and shaker in local and national NAACP politics

In many ways, Kelly Sr. and Jr., along with Alfred Alexander were the faces and front men for one of the country’s oldest civil rights organizations.

But behind the scenes, Mrs. Alexander who served as the secretary for the local and state branches offered meaningful silent strength that lasted for decades.

“The Charlotte Mecklenburg Branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was the first organization to petition the school board to end segregation, " she said.

Assisting her husband gave her access to civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall, as he provided legal support to the family of Dorothy Counts as she attempted to integrate Harding High School in 1957.

She shared reflections back in 1996 with WBTV News.

“You had to be strong to endure all of that to go through it.”

She recalls the hardship of racial slurs and an angry mob the 15-year-old freshman faced as she entered the Irwin Avenue campus.

Eight years later, ugliness showed up on the doorstep of the family’s West Charlotte home in November of 1965. A dynamite attack in darkness rocked the Alexander home.

Four African American families all involved in the civil rights movement were the targets of domestic terrorism. They all survived a close call in a case that still remains open.

In recalling the investigation, Mrs. Alexander expressed frustration over the lack of progress.

“I don’t know who it was because they haven’t told us anything about who it was.”

She would lead civil rights protests in the 1990′s and in 2008 take pride in the election of President Barack Obama.

Margaret Alexander told WBTV, “It is gratifying. It really is, but I didn’t know that I would be around to realize that.

Recognition came to her in 2012 when the City of Charlotte dedicated the Fred Alexander Bridge honoring the Queen City’s first African American council member.

His sister-in-law Margaret was among those basking in this moment of public recognition.

“We’re always appreciative of what anyone does to recognize the family members because they worked really hard while they were here, and oftentimes people forget you after you’re gone.”

Margaret Alexander is survived by her two sons. State Representative Kelly Alexander Jr. and Alfred Alexader who is the President of Alexander Funeral Home.

Copyright 2022 WBTV. All rights reserved.