Gov. Mike Easley issued a proclamation and lawmakers passed a resolution Wednesday honoring seven black residents who were involved in the integration of North Carolina public schools 50 years ago. "There's a group of people that went beyond the norm, the group of people that went that extra mile to bring North Carolina to where it is now," said Rep. Larry Womble, D-Forsyth, as the House debated the resolution. "Just think if they had not taken that step as students." The seven were among the first wave of black students to enter white public schools in the fall of 1957. In a ceremony at the Executive Mansion, Easley presented each of the former students -- Girvaud Roberts Justice, Josephine Boyd Bradley, Brenda Florence, Jimmy Florence, Dorothy Counts Scoggins, Delois Huntley and Gwendolyn Bailey Coleman -- with an Old North State Award and a proclamation recognizing the 50th anniversary of school integration. "The path to social justice is oft times difficult and in consta! nt need of individuals determined to advance its cause," the proclamation read.
Also visiting Easley was Craig Phillips, the superintendent of the Winston-Salem school district in 1957 when Bailey Coleman broke the color barrier. The House and Senate resolution commemorating the importance of the 1957-58 school year also remembered several students who participated in the first wave of integration but have since died. Superintendents for the Charlotte and Greensboro systems were also remembered. North Carolina's public schools were not fully integrated until 1970. (Natasha Robinson, THE ASSOCIATED PRESS, 6/25/08).