The Daily Tar Heel

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Saturday December 3rd

Carrboro commemorates school district integration

Stanley Vickers Day celebrates diversity in education.

Sheila Bynum Florence, Stanley Vickers and Ted Stone were some of the first 'Integration Pioneers' in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Town of Carrboro recognized the 50th anniversary of Vickers v Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools by naming Monday Stanley Vickers Diversity Appreciation Day. An event was held in the Carrboro Century Center with speakers including Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, Rev. Robert Campbell, and Integration Pioneers Ted Stone, Sheila Bynum Florence and Stanley Vickers.
Buy Photos Sheila Bynum Florence, Stanley Vickers and Ted Stone were some of the first 'Integration Pioneers' in Chapel Hill and Carrboro. The Town of Carrboro recognized the 50th anniversary of Vickers v Chapel Hill-Carrboro Schools by naming Monday Stanley Vickers Diversity Appreciation Day. An event was held in the Carrboro Century Center with speakers including Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, Rev. Robert Campbell, and Integration Pioneers Ted Stone, Sheila Bynum Florence and Stanley Vickers.

Fifty years ago, a scared 12-year-old black boy entered the doors of Chapel Hill Junior High School for the first time.

His name was Stanley Vickers.

In 1959, Vickers’ parents requested that he be allowed to attend the then all-white Carrboro Elementary School, which was closer to their house than Northside Elementary School. The Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board denied the request.

Two years later, on Aug. 4, 1961, Federal Court Judge Edwin Stanley said Vickers’ civil rights had been violated.

By Aug. 29 the Chapel Hill-Carrboro School Board reassigned Vickers to the Chapel Hill Junior High School, making him the first black student at the school.

“I was young when this happened so I didn’t understand the real significance of this,” Vickers said.

The decision helped advance school integration in North Carolina.
To commemorate the historical event, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen declared Aug. 29, 2011, Stanley B. Vickers Diversity Appreciation Day.

About 50 people attended a celebration at the Carrboro Century Center to commemorate the event.

Eddie Davis, a retired educator and former member of the State Board of Education, approached Alderman Randee Haven-O’Donnell to help organize the 50th anniversary ceremony.

“I didn’t want the 50th anniversary to go without recognizing the importance of the decision and the courage of the people who made it happen,” Davis said.

Ted Stone, a black man who was admitted to Chapel Hill Junior High, and Sheila Bynum Florence, who attended Chapel Hill Senior High, were also recognized for their courage.

They were both allowed into the schools in 1961. Bynum Florence was the first black woman admitted to an all-white public school in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.

“Our parents did the heavy lifting,” Vickers said. “We just had to show up.”

But showing up proved to be a difficult task.

Bynum Florence remembers being teased by her classmates.

“They used to call me names and throw spit balls at me,” she said. “I was in tears some days.”

Vickers said there were days during his first year he didn’t want to go back — but he did.

“You have to find the strength within you,” Vickers said. “Someone can make the way for you, but you have to walk the path.”

Academics were also challenging, but Vickers found a helping hand in Barry Vaughn, his 8th grade history teacher.

Vaughn was the first person who made him believe that he could succeed, Vickers said.

Change never happens fast, he said, but anyone can make a difference.

“All I wanted was to make my parents proud.”

Contact the City Editor
at city@dailytarheel.com.

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