Desegregation of the Carolina Theatre

As Charlotte businesses began to integrate in the spring of 1963, local leaders turned to the task of integrating movie theaters with a degree of trepidation. Theater owners began a trial period of desegregation on Tuesday, June 11, with eight downtown movie houses—including the Carolina—accepting a limited number of black patrons by reservation only.

Local civil rights leaders organized 30 or 50 black patrons to attend the theaters each day. “We saw a lot of bad movies,” one participant quipped.

Within a few weeks, theater owners dropped the reservation requirement and African Americans in Charlotte were free to go to the movies without prior arrangement.

Marianne Bumgarner-Davis, Rending the Veil: Desegregation in Charlotte, 1954-75. Chapel Hill: UNC Dissertation, 1995.
Thomas W. Hanchett, Sorting Out the New South City: Race, Class, and Urban Development in Charlotte, 1875-1975. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1998.
Kimberly Marlowe Hartnett, Carolina Israelite: How Harry Golden Made Us Care About Jews, The South, and Civil Rights. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015.
Mary Kratt, Charlotte, North Carolina: A Brief History. Charleston: The History Press, 2009.
Damaria Etta Brown Leach, Progress Under Pressure: Changes in Charlotte Race Relations, 1955-1965. Chapel Hill: MA Thesis, 1976.
Randy Penninger, The Emergence of Black Political Power in Charlotte, North Carolina: The City Council Tenure of Frederick Douglas Alexander, 1965-1974. Charlotte: UNCC MA Thesis, 1989.
L.M. Wright, Jr., “A Different Way: Charlotte Has Built Its Integration Road” Charlotte Observer, July 14, 1963.