Racially Radical: Integration at Black Mountain College

The Western Regional Archives in Asheville presents an exhibit about the integration of Black Mountain College, a small liberal arts college in rural western North Carolina.  Black Mountain College has been called radical for both its vision and approach to learning and has been thought of as a strange compound of free spirits and hippies (before hippies were cool).  Many names and adjectives have been used to describe the unique institution in Swannanoa but for such a small,short-lived entity, the school left a lingering legacy that is being researched worldwide.

Helen Post Modley image from 1936, African Americans were a part of campus life at Black Mountain College even before their 1944 integration

Black Mountain College went against traditional norms of institutions of higher learning and attracted some distinctive faculty and students.  It’s most well-known for the exceptional level of art and artisans created there but perhaps the most radical element of Black Mountain College, often unrecognized, is its early path towards integration.

The campus was a community of diversity so perhaps integration was not that radical in the minds of the faculty and students, but examined within the context of location and time, suddenly the move to admit black students to their college becomes intensely profound.

We invite you to explore more about Black Mountain College and its 1944 integration through this exhibition featuring documents and images from the Western Regional Archives. This exhibit was created through the research and assistance of interns from UNC-Asheville, Lyndsey Henderson and Phillip Espisita and is on display through March 2013. The Western Regional Archives is located at 176 Riceville Rd., Asheville, NC 28805.

One of the exhibit cases showcasing the integration materials located at the Western Regional Archives