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Modern Era Begins 1946-1959

1956 - New Libraries

November 19, 1956 - The Public Library of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County boasts a new, modern facility on the North Tryon Street site of the old Carnegie Library. The expansion also includes branch libraries for the Mecklenburg towns of Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, Matthews and Pineville. While many buildings restrict by segregation where black people can go, Charlotte's library quietly accommodates black patrons. In 1961, the Brevard Street library that has served the black community since 1905 will close. Soon, laws will prohibit segregation. 

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1948 - Kuester Dies

Maarch 12, 1948 - While planning this year's Meck Dec Day celebration, Charlotte loses its most enthusiastic promoter. Clarence Kuester dies of a heart attack. LeGette Blythe's play, Shout Freedom, will be performed in Kuester's memory as citizens remember Mecklenburg's 1775 Declaration of Independence. But nothing can ever replace the man lovingly nick-named "Booster" Kuester.

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March 12, 1948

1958 - I-85

The first section of Interstate 85 opens in Mecklenburg County. The super-highway will link the Charlotte to Atlanta, Durham, and other important business centers. By the time construction begins on Interstate 77, the Queen City's future as a fast-growing economic hub will be assured.

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1959 - JFK visits Charlotte

January 15, 1959 - Senator John F. Kennedy gives the keynote speech at the Charlotte Chamber of Commerce annual dinner. He has visited Charlotte before. In 1940, he attended a wedding at the Duke mansion in Myers Park. Kennedy will make a campaign stop in the Queen City next year, then will be elected president. 

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1959 - Bishop Daddy Grace

September 13, 1959  - Thousands of worshipers from the eastern U.S. take to the streets as the Daddy Grace parade makes its way through Charlotte's largest black neighborhood, Second Ward. Always held on the second Sunday in September, the parade honors Bishop C.M. Sweet Daddy Grace, the founder of the United House of Prayer for All People. Many believers find salvation and come forward at the church's mass baptisms. 

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1949 - Television

July 15, 1949 - Charlotte's WBTV takes to the airwaves and becomes the first television station in the Carolinas. By 1967, there will be four other television stations: WSOC, WCCB, WTVI, and WCNC. 

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1950 - Korean Conflict

June 25, 1950 - At the end of World War II, Korea was divided in two. Now, Communist North Korea invades South Korea. Tens of thousands of U.S. troops help defend South Korea. Neither side will win the war. But after three years, a truce is declared although no peace treaty will be signed. Nearly 50 years later, U.S. troops will still patrol the border between North and South Korea.

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1954 - Changing Times

May 17, 1954 - The U.S. Supreme Court rules in a case called Brown vs. The Board of Education that segregating, or separating students and schools according to race is a violation of the U.S. Constitution. But it will take more than the court's ruling to achieve equality in our schools. Years of anger, frustration and violence will follow. 

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1954 - Ike Visits Charlotte

May 18, 1954 - More than 60,000 people crowd into Charlotte's Freedom Park to hear President Dwight Eisenhower speak. His visit is part of the annual Meck Dec Day commemoration. Choirs sing as citizens celebrate Mecklenburg's 1775 declaration of independence from British rule. President Eisenhower at Freedom Park

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1955 - Ovens Auditorium

September 11, 1955 - Named for outspoken civic leader David Ovens, the auditorium honoring him opens. Ovens once convinced Enrico Caruso, the world-renowned opera singer, to perform in the Queen City. Caruso claimed he had never sung anywhere smaller than Charlotte! The 2,600-seat auditorium adjoins the Charlotte Coliseum, the world's largest unsupported concrete dome. In later years, the coliseum will be known as Independence Arena. 

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