"This Period of Grave Crisis": North Carolinians Respond to Brown, 1954-1974

On Monday, May 17, 1954, the United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in a series of cases collectively known as Brown v. Board of Education. The ruling abolished the former "separate but equal" policy set forth in Plessy v. Ferguson (1896), stating that such a doctrine had "no place in the field of public education." Southern reaction to the decision was largely negative, with many states vowing to oppose the Supreme Court's interference at all costs. In North Carolina, the response was filled with mixed emotions as the state grappled with the conundrum of defying the order while maintaining a progressive reputation.

"This Period of Grave Crisis": North Carolinians Respond to Brown, 1954-1974 traces two decades of reactions from North Carolina's citizens to the ideas and efforts of school desegregation. From letters and newspaper editorials to boycotts and private school movements, the Tar Heel State's diverse inhabitants employed various tactics to ensure that their voices were heard and that their actions influenced how the state's leaders responded to Brown


Researched and Developed in Fulfillment of a Master of Arts in History at Southern New Hampshire University