Racial Harmony In Winston-Salem, North Carolina: North Carolinian Myth Of Racial Progressiveness Versus Civil Rights, 1954-1980

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History and Geography


Master of Arts

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Traditionally, North Carolina has been looked at as a state that experienced little racial disturbances during the Civil Rights Movement. Because of this, North Carolina developed a progressive image in terms of race relations that state citizens accepted. This image implied that North Carolina's treatment of its black citizens was unequaled in the South. This study examines the dynamic racial climate of Winston-Salem during the Civil Rights Movement in order to gain perspective over the invalidity of North Carolina's myth of racial progressiveness. Winston-Salem experienced racial extremes during the struggle for civil rights with the organization of a majority black worker union, strong resistance to school desegregation, a race riot in 1967, and the strong presence of organizations based on race such as white citizen's councils, the Black Panther Party, and the Ku Klux Klan. This study sets out to deconstruct the racially progressive image that North Carolina enjoyed throughout the twentieth century. Using state records, local and national newspapers, and records from organizations such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and the North Carolina Good Neighbor Council, this study finds little weight to North Carolina's claims to superior race relations. Scholars who are examining Winston-Salem's social history during the twentieth century and also for those interested in the racial dynamics in the state of North Carolina should consider this study.