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Modern Era Begins 1946-1959

1956 - Expansion

August 27, 1956 - Independence Boulevard opens, replacing unpaved sections of Stonewall Street. As the massive roadway links the east and west sides of Charlotte, it cuts through Second Ward, home of many of the city's black families. It won't be long before the entire Second Ward neighborhood is torn down.

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1957 - The Right to Vote

August 29, 1957 - President Eisenhower signs the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits interfering with any American's right to vote. But not everyone supports the law that ultimately empowers blacks. South Carolina's Senator Strom Thurmond speaks against the Civil Rights Act for a record-breaking 24 hours!

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August 29, 1957

1957 - Children Lead

September 4, 1957  - Today, four brave, young black people will test the new laws against school segregation. As the nation watches, these desegregation pioneers arrive at four of Charlotte's all-white schools. The crowds who have gathered are angry. In the tense days that follow, people throw things at Dorothy Counts. They call Gus Roberts names. They shun Delois Huntley and Gus Roberts' little sister, Girvaud. Of the four, only Gus Roberts will stay long enough to graduate. 

Date of Event:
September 4, 1957

1959 - First Mall

October 28, 1959 - The first enclosed retail shopping center in the Carolinas opens. Charlottetown Mall will affect retail shopping patterns as it draws customers away from downtown. Although its name will change in later years to Midtown Square, the mall will operate continuously. 

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October 28, 1959

1949 - Rebuilding Lives

The veterans, men and women who fought in World War II, are returning home. To educate them, teacher Bonnie Cone pushes for new schools. Charlotte College is for whites, and holds classes at the old Central High School. Carver College is for blacks. Its classes are held at night at Second Ward High School. By 1963, Carver will become part of Central Piedmont Community College. Charlotte College will evolve into the University of North Carolina at Charlotte in 1965. The first registration of students for Carver College took place on September 16, 1949.

Date of Event:
September 16, 1949

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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