Exhibit: Courage.

Levine Museum of the New South

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The award-winning exhibit explores the saga of Rev. De Laine and a South Carolina community's courage to stand against segregation in schools. Personal histories, photographs, reproductions of letters and documents, interactive components, and artifacts, some on loan from the Smithsonian, help tell the story.

COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America

Levine Museum of the New South Brings Back Award-Winning 'COURAGE' Exhibit for 2011. Opening month features January 20 panel discussion on race relations and public education, featuring Juan Williams, Janet Murguía, John Payton, and William Winter.

In celebration of our 20th anniversary, the Museum is bringing back COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America, appearing in Charlotte for the first time since 2004. The exhibit tells the powerful grassroots story of the Rev. J.A. De Laine and the other brave citizens of Clarendon County, S.C., who brought the first lawsuit in America challenging racial segregation in public schools. Combined with four other national lawsuits, the result was the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that racial segregation of schools was unconstitutional, subsequently initiating massive change in race relations in the U.S.

Developed by Levine Museum, COURAGE opened for the first time in Charlotte in 2004 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Brown decision. After a successful seven-month run, the exhibit closed in August of that year. Bank of America provided funding for a national tour of the exhibit with stops at museums in Atlanta, Baltimore, Los Angeles, and New York.

Since COURAGE was last presented in Charlotte, the city has experienced significant demographic, cultural, and economic change. Equal educational opportunity remains at the forefront as Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools wrestles with school closings, pupil assignment, student achievement, and graduation rates in a school system where approximately half of students are characterized as "economically disadvantaged."

Personal histories, photographs, reproductions of letters and documents, artifacts and interactive components comprise the exhibit. The Museum also is scheduling accompanying innovative programming and events throughout the year.

To mark the opening of the exhibit, the Museum is featuring "COURAGE: Where Do We Need It Now? A Conversation with Juan Williams, Janet Murguía, John Payton, and William Winter." This panel discussion on Thursday, Jan. 20, 7-9 p.m. at McGlohon Theatre at Spirit Square, will focus on the impact of the Brown decision, as well as race relations and the challenges facing public education.

Panelists include Williams, bestselling author of Eyes on The Prize: America’s Civil Rights Years, 1954-1965 and Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary and a FOX News commentator; Murguía, president and CEO of National Council of La Raza, the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the U.S.; Payton, president and director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, a nonprofit organization that seeks structural changes to eliminate disparities and achieve racial justice; and Winter, former governor of Mississippi, who has fought for education reform and equal opportunity for all races. Panelists will answer questions from the audience.

Tickets for the Jan. 20 event at McGlohon Theatre may be purchased through the N.C. Blumenthal Performing Arts Center Office at a price of $25 for Levine Museum members and $35 for non-members/general public, by calling 704-372-1000 or visiting www.carolinatix.org.

In conjunction with COURAGE, Levine Museum is also displaying Para Todos Los Niños: Fighting Segregation before Brown v. Board about the 1946 U.S. Court of Appeals case, Mendez v. Westminster School District, which ended school segregation for Mexican Americans. Like COURAGE, it tells a compelling grassroots story of multi-racial lawyers and activists who worked in then-rural Orange County, Calif., almost 10 years before the Brown decision. This exhibit was created by the Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance, Los Angeles, and will be on display at Levine Museum through December 2011.

Admission to the Museum will be free on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Monday, Jan. 17, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The Museum will be one of WSOC’s Family Focus partners, which historically attracts the largest single-day attendance of the year at the Museum, with as many as 3,600 visitors.

COURAGE: The Carolina Story That Changed America is presented by Bank of America and supported by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, The Charlotte Observer, the Arts & Science Council, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Support for the Jan. 20 event is also provided by Johnson C. Smith University, WFAE 90.7 FM, The Mary Duke Biddle Foundation, and UNC Charlotte.



  • Event Category Other Museums
  • Event Cost Under $10
    Adults $6, Seniors (62+) and Students $5, Children 6-18 $5, Family $17, Children under 6 free, Groups* $4.00
  • Event Ages All

Event Location

Levine Museum of the New South

200 East 7th Street
Charlotte, NC 28202

(704) 333-1887