Stories of school resegregation are common these days, but the historian Pamela Grundy didn’t think she would she would end up telling one. In 1998, Grundy decided to write a book about school integration in her city of Charlotte, North Carolina, particularly at historically black West Charlotte High. “It was at a time when political and cultural rhetoric was shifting to the failures of desegregation,” she says. “I wanted to think about what desegregation did accomplish, and tell the story of a successful integrated school.”
From the mid-1970s until the early 1990s, Charlotte was the most desegregated major school system in the country, and West Charlotte High School was its flagship. A 1969 federal ruling mandated that each Charlotte school’s student body be 70 percent white and 30 percent black, to match the system-wide demographic.