Western Regional Archives Presents Exhibit On Black Mountain College Integration

[This blog post comes from a Dept. of Cultural Resources press release – you can find other news related to NC Cultural Resources here.]

ASHEVILLE — In 1944, blacks and whites lived in separate worlds in most of North Carolina.  But not at Black Mountain College. The exhibition, Racially Radical: Integration at Black Mountain College, from Feb. 1 to March 31 by the Western Regional Archives, will examine the trailblazing attitudes and practices at the small, liberal arts school in Swannanoa in observance of Black History Month.

Black Mountain College has been thought of as a compound of free spirits and hippies known for going against the norms among institutions of higher learning.  It attracted a distinctive faculty and student population, including Buckminster Fuller, Merce Cunningham and John Cage.

Although well-known for its exceptional level of art and artisans, a most often unrecognized aspect of Black Mountain College was its early path toward integration. Although diversity may not have seemed radical to the faculty and students, the move to admit black students in 1944 at that place and time truly was profound.

The images of blacks and whites dining, studying or playing together and seeming to flourish at the same  time that “white” and “colored” water fountains were commonplace across the South defied conventional wisdom, and may have even opened minds to new possibilities.

The Western Regional Archives is open Monday- Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For information call (828) 296-7230, ext. 240. Administered by the State Archives of North Carolina, the Western Regional Archives collects, preserves, and makes accessible archival materials reflecting the culture and history of western North Carolina. Its holdings include the collections of Black Mountain College, the Blue Ridge Parkway Photograph Collection and others.  It is within the Office of Archives and History of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.

About the North Carolina Department of Cultural Resources

The N.C. Department of Cultural Resources annually serves more than 19 million people through its 27 historic sites, seven history museums, two art museums, the nation’s first state-supported Symphony Orchestra, the State Library, the N.C. Arts Council, and the State Archives.

Cultural Resources champions North Carolina’s creative industry, which employs nearly 300,000 North Carolinians and contributes more than $41 billion to the state’s economy.

To learn more, visit us online.