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Black teacher recalls trials, triumphs at mostly white school

desegregation
Pearlie Harris in her home in January 2020. Photo: Josh Morgan/The Greenville News. Used with permission.

In a series of articles, The Greenville News chronicles 50 years since school desegregation in Greenville County. A piece by Angelia Davis highlights the plight of Pearlie Harris, the only black teacher at Greenville’s Crestone Elementary in 1968, an all-white school that didn’t become officially integrated until 1970. Harris, who received a Master of Arts in education from Furman University in 1983, remembers a time when “nothing was easy,” she said.

For the piece, Davis also tapped research by Furman History Professor Stephen O’Neill ’84 who wrote book chapter “Memory, History and the Desegregation of Greenville, South Carolina” found in “Toward the Meeting of the Waters” (University of South Carolina Press, 2008). In the chapter, O’Neill describes life after desegregation – “Black students bore the brunt of transfers and shouldered 75 percent of the burden of busing to new schools.”

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