- Goldmine: Root
- Oral History Collections
- The Era Before Brown v. Board of Education
- C. Vanessa Baxter oral history interview, 2004 December 21
Status messageActive context: oral_history
C. Vanessa Baxter oral history interview, 2004 December 21
Vanessa Baxter describes her experiences as a student in Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools from 1959 through the early 1970s, focusing in particular on the impact of integration. Ms. Baxter describes attending an all-black elementary school, then moving to an integrated junior high, Sedgefield Junior High School. She recalls how integration was a success at the school, and also within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Junior Symphony Orchestra, where she played the violin. Ms. Baxter attributes this success in part to the higher socioeconomic background of the students, and in part to successful leadership within the school. After junior high, she attended Harding High School, which she describes as a school with greater racial conflict. Ms. Baxter discusses significant problems, including violence, with integration at Harding High School, and talks about how the principal fueled racial conflict through uneven treatment of students. Ms. Baxter returned to Harding to deliver the commencement address ten years after she graduated, and she describes a significant improvement in race relations that had occurred by that time based on her experiences with the students during her visit.