Compelled by a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, five black students were allowed to enroll in the School of Law after the court decided that equal facilities did not exist in state-maintained black schools.
With those five students, the mandatory practice of segregation was dead, but the idea behind racial separation was still very much alive.
The first black UNC students were allowed to eat with other students in the dining hall, but the administration tucked them away on the third floor of Steele Building, which was a residence hall at the time, and seated them in the section of the football stadium reserved for "colored persons."
"They were still trying to maintain segregation after the court order," said Harvey Beech, one of the first black students to enter the law school in the summer of 1951.
Beech said he wanted to come to UNC because the University did not want to let him in. And once he came to campus, he was met with indifference and, in some cases, hostility.
"I wasn't even told where the dormitory was," he said. "When they gave me my room, it was on top of Steele on the third floor with just two people."
Beech said he found companionship with the other black students, especially Kenneth Lee, but that he had to be wary of other students.
"Them all being the same hue, the color white, we couldn't tell the good ones from the bad ones," he said. "But they could tell us. It was nigger this and nigger that."
While many people at UNC treated the black students with ambivalence, Beech said there were pockets of violent behavior.