One of the largest collections at UNC Charlotte Special Collections holds the papers of Kelly Alexander (see previous post). Alexander led the local NAACP chapter in Charlotte for several years. Later, he became the NAACP Chairman for the National Board of Directors. As a youth in the early 1930s, he attended Charlotte’s Second Ward High School, a segregated school near uptown. He played football and earned the name “Shipwreck” Kelly (see photo below). As a community activist,. Kelly took up the family business in Charlotte at the Alexander Funeral Home and reinvigorated the fledgling local NAACP branch in 1940. During the 1950s, as desegregation slowly commenced in Charlotte schools, Alexander helped to keep the pressure on the school board to comply with the Supreme Court decision. In 1957, he and his wife attempted to switch their son Kelly Jr. to a new school in an effort to desegregate Dilworth School. Throughout the mid-twentieth century, Alexander tirelessly campaigned for civil rights. These few episodes I mention here do not adequately describe all the contributions he made to Charlotte and to local racial progress. For more information on him, check out his collection at Special Collections. Here are a few more photos of him below. Look for the new display in the Atkins library in the next few months featuring Alexander and other local leaders.
The application for change of pupil assignment for Kelly Alexander Jr. in 1957. While the board accepted a few reassignments this year, Alexander was not one of them.
Kelly Alexander on the football team in 1932. Alexander is in the back, 2nd left.
Alexander shakes hands with Gus Roberts, who as a child, desegregated Charlotte’s Central High School in 1957.