From Forgotten to Remembered: The Long Process of School Desegregation in Chapel Hill, North Carolina and Prince Edward County, Virginia Public Deposited

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  • March 20, 2019
  • Waugh, Dwana
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • This dissertation chronicles the history of two black high schools in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, and Prince Edward County, Virginia, during the desegregation process. Both local communities represent important case studies for examining the long and complicated history of school desegregation. While Chapel Hill school officials' reluctant compliance to school desegregation resulted in few black students in predominately white schools a decade after the Brown ruling, Prince Edward County leaders' defiant refusal to accept any desegregation of the public schools resulted in wide-scale closure of the school system for five years. In the late 1960s, the two school systems caved in to pressure from the local public and the federal government to desegregate their public schools in appreciable numbers. In the ensuing years, the process of desegregation culminated in shutting down black schools or erasing the heritage and traditions of black schools in Chapel Hill and Prince Edward County. By the late twentieth century, blacks demanded their local communities preserve the legacies of their closed black high schools. Using oral histories and archival sources, I examine how people's memories of desegregation reveal the dynamics of power and race in their local communities. Through interrogating black schoolhouses as "sites of memory," my dissertation argues that southern blacks' activism is both representative of a constant set of racial negotiations over educational power and control and symbolic of a larger movement for racial equity and social justice. The process of school desegregation offered blacks a new language in which to articulate their resistance to inequitable social structures. The commemorative process of refashioning black schools, once sites of black protest and community loss, provides blacks a way in which to ground their frustrations with the contemporary school system and carve out public space in their communities.
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  • In Copyright
  • Filene, Peter G.
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Graduation year
  • 2012

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