Black History | Dorothy Counts

Dorthy-Counts2Dorothy Counts (born 1942) was one of the first black students admitted to the Harry Harding High School, in Charlotte, North Carolina. After four days of harassment that threatened her safety, her parents forced her to withdraw from the school.

In 1956, forty black students applied for transfers at a white school.[1] At 15 years of age, on 4 September 1957, Dorothy Counts was one of the four black students enrolled at various all-white schools in the district; She was at Harry Harding High School, Charlotte, North Carolina.[2] Three students were enrolled at other schools, including Central High School. The harassment started when the wife of John Z. Warlick, the leader of the White Citizens Council, urged the boys to “keep her out” and at the same time, implored the girls to spit on her, saying, “spit on her, girls, spit on her.”[1] Dorothy walked by without reacting, but told the press that many people threw rocks at her—most of which landed in front of her feet—and that many spat on her back. Photographer Douglas Martin won the 1957 World Press Photo of the Year with an image of Counts being mocked by a crowd on her first day of school.

More abuse followed that day. She had trash thrown at her while eating her dinner and the teachers ignored her.[1] The following day, she befriended two white girls, but they soon drew back because of harassment from other classmates.[1] Her family received threatening phone calls and after four days of extensive harassment—which included a smashed car and having her locker ransacked, her father decided to take his daughter out of the school.[1] At a press conference, he said.

It is with compassion for our native land and love for our daughter Dorothy that we withdraw her as a student at Harding High School. As long as we felt she could be protected from bodily injury and insults within the school’s walls and upon the school premises, we were willing to grant her desire to study at Harding.

The family moved to Pennsylvania, where Counts attended an integrated school in Philadelphia, and later earned a degree from Johnson C. Smith University.[1][4] She has spent her professional career in child care resources.[5]

In 2008, Harding High School awarded Counts an honorary diploma.[6] In 2010, Counts received a public apology from a member of the crowd which harassed her in 1957.[7] In 2010, Harding High School renamed its library in honor of Counts-Scoggins, an honour rarely bestowed upon living persons.

About SouthernGirl2

A Native Texan who adores baby kittens, loves horses, rodeos, pomegranates, & collect Eagles. Enjoys politics, games shows, & dancing to all types of music. Loves discussing and learning about different cultures. A Phi Theta Kappa lifetime member with a passion for Social & Civil Justice.
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13 Responses to Black History | Dorothy Counts

  1. KC says:

    Such a beautiful and strong woman. It amazes me to think that people were so ignorant. My grandfather, who would have been 114 this year, stood up to his boss when he invited his coworker and his wife to my grandparents Christmas party. It would have been around 1950. His boss told him that he would not attend if “that ‘N’ was there.” My grandfather told him he was sorry he couldn’t make it. My mother was taught to always address her elders as Mr. and Mrs. no matter who they are or where they come from. I am glad to say that was also taught to myself and my siblings. It makes me proud to honor not only my Grandpa Mark but also Mr. & Mrs. Johnson when I see my children with friends of all different shades of skin color.
    As a side note – Dosen’t Mrs. Counts-Scroggins look like Haley Berry in the last picture?

  2. vitaminlover says:

    If I were she I wouldn’t let them name anything after me in their tacky school.

  3. rikyrah says:

    Ashamed to say that I did not know about this American Hero.

    Thanks for informing me, SG2.

    And, if I haven’t said if often enough, you have brought it with the Black History this month. Spreading the knowledge, and I totally appreciate you and these posts.

    • Ametia says:

      It just boggles the mind to witness that a whole race of people would think they owned America, and performed unatural acts of violence and committed horrendous CRIMES against HUMAN BEINGS who were not WHITE.

      Just hateful because they did not have MELANIN, nothing else, because someone told this group of folks they were far more enotionally, mentally, and physically superior than POC, because they were white. THE GREAT WHITE LIE.

    • Thank you, Rikyrah! It’s my pleasure.

  4. leesmarshall says:

    Reblogged this on Lee S. Marshall's Blog and commented:
    Another unsung American hero.

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