Browse Exhibits (28 total)

Crossing the Color Line: On Their Own Terms, 1972-1981

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In 1972, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) sued the federal Department of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW) for neglecting the enforcement of desegregation in higher education.  Judge John Pratt in Adams v Richardson wrote that HEW allowed North Carolina as well as nine other states to continue receiving federal funds despite the state’s violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. According to this federal legislation, government agencies that received federal funds are banned from discriminating based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.

After almost a decade of negotiations with HEW, in 1981 North Carolina became the last state without an approved desegregation plan for higher education as state officials resisted HEW’s efforts to eliminate degree program duplication in the state’s colleges and universities. The UNC system, the single coordinating board of the state’s 16 public institutions of higher education, attempted to reframe the desegregation issue as a state’s right to govern its own academic institutions. Taking the focus off race, this colorblind defense disregarded the history of discrimination that created inequalities between historically black and white institutions.

Crossing the Color Line: On Their Own Terms, 1972-1981 examines the UNC system, which included North Carolina State University, response to efforts made by the federal Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) to desegregating higher education.

HEW’s attempts to eliminate duplicate degree programs in the state’s colleges and universities were met with resistance. North Carolina was the last state to get an approved desegregation plan because officials of the UNC system felt that HEW was violating their right to control their own academic institutions.

This exhibit contains oral interviews produced by The Southern Oral History Program.

Visit other Exhibits in Crossing the Color Line.

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Crossing the Color Line: One at a Time, 1950-1960


Crossing the Color Line: One at a Time, 1950-1960, examines the initial period of desegregation and integration at NC State University in a state and national context.

The University of North Carolina (UNC) system, like the state of North Carolina as a whole, embraced a centrist approach to desegregation, which stressed moderation and gradualism. Although no rioting took place on NC State's campus, it would take a number of federal court cases to ensure that African American students would be able to enroll at the university.

This exhibit utilizes correspondence between NC State Administrators and other leaders in the UNC University system. Transciptions of relevant Supreme Court cases have also been included.

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Race & Space: The Athletic Department

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These locations are where North Carolina’s States first black athletes began to make their presence known on campus to both fellow students and alumni. These spaces were also important in helping to break down the walls of resistance to integration and in opening opportunities for future students both athletes and non-athletes. They were also shared sites of integration for all citizens of Raleigh.

This exhibit is part of a collaborative project. To learn more, check out: The Student Body, The Workplace, and The Community.

Race & Space: The Community


North Carolina State University's integration was both a reflection of and an answer to strict segregation practices in the greater Raleigh community. Each dot represents the NC State Good Neighbor Council's role in addressing racial inequality on and off campus from 1967-1979. An organization compossed of 16 NC State students and faculty, the Good Neighbor Council was initially concerned with everyday physical and social limitatations placed on black students and faculty. The organization later evolved into a human relations and social justice group devoted to the development of city-wide racial dialogues. The map reflects the Good Neighbor Council's mission. 


This exhibit is part of a collaborative project. To learn more, check out: The Athletic DepartmentThe Student Body, and The Workplace.


Race & Space: The Student Body


In our larger project, Race & Space, the collaborators explore the concept that integration was not an event but rather a process. Legalized educational integration was only the first step in a long process of negotiations for equal access to education, opportunity, and space. In our project, we argue that NC State was not suddenly “integrated,” but instead underwent a series of incremental changes through the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s as black athletes, students, faculty, staff, and community members advocated for their rights to public space, both physical and metaphorical.

Race & Space: The Student Body argues that black students at NC State faced numerous challenges as they tried to succeed academically, gain a social and political voice, and move into traditionally white spaces. By analyzing this history spatially, the exhibit concludes that equal treatment, education, and access on NC State’s campus were never a given; instead, they were goals towards which black students strived for many years through negotiation, protest, and hard work.

Above are seven spaces that experienced tension and strife, as well as victories and celebrations, during the tumultuous post-integration period at NC State. In many ways, each of these spaces was contested by both black and white students as the student body struggled to adjust to black students' fight for academic, social, and political equality on campus. Understanding events in each of these spaces is seminal to understanding the shifting attitudes, demographics, and realities at NC State during the 1960s and 1970s. 

These locations pop up in various parts of the exhibit, Race & Space: The Student Body. I hope you enjoy exploring the map and the exhibit! 

This exhibit is part of a collaborative project. To learn more, check out: The Athletic DepartmentThe Community, and The Workplace.

Race & Space: The Workplace


The integration of North Carolina State University involved more than just the student body; black employees and faculty also fought for their fair share of space on campus. The places selected in the map highlight some of the workplaces on campus that were both contested and shared by black and white staff and faculty. The integration of NC State's workplaces was a long and arduous process that some would argue is still occurring today.

This exhibit is part of a collaborative project. To learn more, check out: The Athletic DepartmentThe Student Body, and The Community.

Site Creators


Susanna Lee, an associate professor in the History Department at North Carolina State University, manages The State of History. Graduate students in the history and public history programs selected and digitized all primary sources in the collections and wrote all exhibits. The Site Creators Exhibit presents primary sources from a variety of topics that illuminate creators' professional biography or inspire their intellectual interest in history.

The Good Wife Diploma: Civic Contributions of State's Mates


Like many other women's organizations in 1960s America, State's Mates maintained a strong civic commitment, despite their characterization as a social group.  Their contributions to the North Carolina State University community, as well as to Raleigh and the greater Triangle area, highlight their philanthropic sensibilities.  This exhibit explores the rise and decline of volunteerism amongst State's Mates and its relevance to their local communities.

The Good Wife Diploma: Social Activities of State's Mates


This exhibit examines the ways in which the members of State's Mates socialized through formal functions such as fashion shows, talent shows, beauty pageants, and others.  State's Mates used social activities as a way to connect with other student wives, express their femininity in a university environment, and play with the social norms of the 1950's and 1960's.

The Good Wife Diploma: Women's Roles in State's Mates


Being a male student’s wife in the mid-twentieth century was not easy. These wives were not necessarily the vision of the perfect housewife that we think about today: a well-dressed woman who awaits her husband’s arrival at the end of the day with a clean house and a hot meal. Rather, the women of State’s Mates had to juggle typical female domestic responsibilities with also being employed. Since their husbands were preoccupied with academic life at the university, the wives were in charge of the family, the home, and for most of them, the finances for the duration of their husband’s time at State. Their involvement in the organization offered support for their complicated lifestyle because each woman found herself among others in the same position.