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Crossing the Color Line

"The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color line." - W.E.B. Du Bois

Ted Bush, Karen Wilkerson, Cynthia Hinnaut, Mike Hunter, 1970.
The photograph above is from the early 1970s and depicts four African American students posing on campus. To find out more, click on the photo.

Welcome to Crossing the Color Line: Desegregation at NC State, 1950-1981, a collection of essays and primary sources exhibiting the history of integration and desegregation at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C.

Crossing the Color Line explores NC State’s transition from a predominantly white institution to a more inclusive university, open to all students regardless of race. This site primarily focuses on the integration of undergraduate students, with particular emphasis on administrative policies and early student groups. These topics are explored through a series of case studies which highlight NC State’s unique experiences while placing them in a larger state and national context. The project was undertaken as part of a final assignment for HI 534, History and Digital Media, completed under the instruction of Dr. Susanna Lee.

The first exhibit, "Crossing the Color Line: One at a Time, 1950-1960" examines the initial period of desegregation and provides context for the other three exhibits. The second exhibit, “Crossing the Color Line: A Means of Protest, 1968-1972 ” discusses the activities of the Society of Afro-American Culture (SAAC) at NC State from its founding in 1968 until 1972. The third exhibit, “Crossing the Color Line: A Place of Their Own, 1973-1975,” focuses on a student led workshop (called Quail Roost) that promoted discussion of race relations and led to the formation of the African American Cultural Center. The final exhibit, “Crossing the Color Line: On Their Own Terms, 1972-1981,” explores how North Carolina’s UNC system became the last hold out as state’s officials attempted to reframe the desegregation issue as state’s rights to govern their own academic institutions.