Crossing the Color Line | About

About Our Project

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, which was completed under the instruction of Dr. Susanna Lee.


Today the terms desegregation and integration are used interchangeable. However, for the purpose of this project desegregation will be defined as the act of removing infrastructure in public institutions that purposely separate individuals on the basis of race. The term integration refers to the voluntary decision of individuals to attend an institution where other students are of a different race then themselves.

The terms "African American" and "black" are used in different exhibits to describe the race of certain students. In the project, the term "African American" is used by administration, while the term "black" is used by the students. The term "negro" is found in pre-1960s documents but due to its negative association is not used in the exhibits.

Navigating the Site

Although the exhibits can be viewed in any order, the site creators recommend viewing them chronologically in order to better understand how desegregation took place at NC State. 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.

Many of the primary sources we used to complete this project are available for visitors to view on our Collections page. For those who want to delve a little deeper, Learning Activities are available for several of these documents.

If you are interested in visiting other digital history sites exploring the history of NC State or the process of desegregation as it occurred at other North Carolina Universities please visit our Links page for more information.

We strongly encourage visitors who attended NC State during various stages of desegregation and integration to contribute stories about their own experiences on the Contribute Your Story page.

About Us

Erin Glant works as a historic interpreter at Old Salem. She hopes to one day work at either a museum or historic site. Kelly Murray is currently working on the Student Leadership Initiative project at NC State's Special Collections Research Center. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Public History. This is Samantha Rich's second experience working with digital history; she previously contributed research to NCSU Libraries Special Collections Research Center's website, Historical State, as a part of the NCSU Libraries' Student Leadership Initiative. Amanda Smith's goal is to work with teacher development to help teachers find ways to make studying history exciting for students. She completed her internship at the National Humanities Center creating online teacher resources. All four are Public History graduate students focusing on Museum Studies at NC State.

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Visit Exhibits in Crossing the Color Line.