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Wilbur Eggleston and Racial Integration in N.C.

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Wilbur Eggleston and Racial Integration in N.C.

Wilbur Eggleston (Ashland Citizen-Times)The obituary for Wilbur Eggleston in the Ashland Citizen-Times offers a historic look at racial integration in North Carolina and Eggleston’s role in its progress.

While working as a cab driver in the 1940s, Eggleston “came in contact with Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt and others who helped him develop as a student and person concerned for his fellow man,” his family wrote.

In the late 1940s, Eggleston graduated from what is now North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University and began teaching and coaching at Reynolds School in Canton, North Carolina, where “he coached, drove the team bus, coached drama, taught math (all areas), physics, drafting, art trades and assisted the principal in disciplinary matters.”

“He was instrumental in integrating the stadium by deliberately failing to divide his fans with a rope. They have been sitting together ever since.”

While at Reynolds, Eggleston pursued his master’s degree. His family wrote: “When integration was only a token effort, he enrolled at NC State University in Raleigh at which time he could not sleep on campus.”

Messages shared in the Guest Book for Wilbur Eggleston testify to his role as a civil rights pioneer, community leader and role model.

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Originally published July 15, 2011, this post was contributed by Alana Baranick, a freelance obituary writer who lives in Northeast Ohio. She is director of the Society of Professional Obituary Writers and chief author of Life on the Death Beat: A Handbook for Obituary Writers.