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50 years ago, six students changed Cary High
February 26, 2013Cary High School
CARY - Gwendolyn Matthews’ first bus ride to Cary High School was quiet. And then she saw the protesters.
“I wasn’t nervous until the school bus drove up to the campus and saw this crowd of people saying, ‘Two, four, six, eight, we don’t want to integrate,’” recalled Matthews, now 65.
She stepped off the bus and made her way through the mob, ready to begin her junior year as one of the first six African-American students at Cary High School in 1963.
Half a century ago, Raleigh had its own school system and had already begun to enroll some black students in white schools. But in the more-rural Wake County system, Cary High led the charge, becoming the first high school to mix races.
It all started with cigar-smoke-clouded conversations on the back porch of Henry Adams’ house on Academy Street.
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