Local News

Play remembers Raleigh school integration

Posted April 9, 2009 9:44 p.m. EDT
Updated April 9, 2009 11:05 p.m. EDT

— In 1960, a second grader named Bill Campbell integrated Raleigh schools. Now a production depicting that era in the city’s history is playing at the same school it started.

“1960” runs until April 26 at Meymandi Theatre at the old Murphey School, which is commonly known as the Burning Coal Theatre.

“The school board in their decision process said, ‘If we’re going to get involved in this experiment of integration, we really need to start at the very youngest age,’” said Ralph Campbell, a former state auditor and Bill Campbell’s brother.

The school board at the time met at the Murphey School – the same location where the play is being produced this weekend – to decide

Ralph Campbell said his brother's enrollment in what was Raleigh's all-white school system, was part of a bigger strategy to integrate the community together.

“It was the integration of the lunch counters, the marches. It was the integration of the pools,” Ralph Campbell said.

Bill Campbell went on to become the mayor of Atlanta. He now lives in south Florida.

The Campbell family also has another connection to the Murphey School. Ralph Campbell was on the Raleigh City Council that voted to save the school from demolition.