Our Fall Preview today features Color and Character: West Charlotte High School and the American Struggle over Educational Equality by Pamela Grundy. The end of July means the end of summer, and more importantly, back-to-school planning. What better way to stay in the know than with our timely new book? Just in time for the start of the school year, Color and Character will prove a significant addition to the education debate and an aid in solving education issues. Pre-order your copy to stay informed!
At a time when race and inequality dominate national debates, the story of West Charlotte High School illuminates the possibilities and challenges of using racial and economic desegregation to foster educational equality. West Charlotte opened in 1938 as a segregated school that embodied the aspirations of the growing African American population of Charlotte, North Carolina. In the 1970s, when Charlotte began court-ordered busing, black and white families made West Charlotte the celebrated flagship of the most integrated major school system in the nation. But as the twentieth century neared its close and a new court order eliminated race-based busing, Charlotte schools resegregated along lines of class as well as race. West Charlotte became the city’s poorest, lowest-performing high school—a striking reminder of the people and places that Charlotte’s rapid growth had left behind. While dedicated teachers continue to educate children, the school’s challenges underscore the painful consequences of resegregation.
Drawing on nearly two decades of interviews with students, educators, and alumni, Pamela Grundy uses the history of a community’s beloved school to tell a broader American story of education, community, democracy, and race—all while raising questions about present-day strategies for school reform.
Historian, author, and activist Pamela Grundy lives in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she pursues a variety of writing, teaching, and museum projects. Her previous books include the award-winning Learning to Win: Sports, Education, and Social Change in Twentieth-Century North Carolina. Recently featured in an article in The Washington Post, Pamela is at the forefront of the education debate. Follow Pamela on Twitter for more updates.
“In this remarkably moving book, Pamela Grundy uses vivid accounts from West Charlotte High students, teachers, parents, and community members as a sophisticated lens through which to understand major changes in national educational policy over the past fifty years.”
—John Charles Boger, University of North Carolina School of Law