The Inclusion Project at the UNC Center for Civil Rights is out with the second in a series of in-depth “State of Exclusion” reports that document the legacy of racial segregation in individual North Carolina counties. Last month’s initial report examined the situation in the southeastern county of Lenoir. The new one looks at the situation in the Piedmont county of Davidson. This is from the release that accompanied its release:
“According to a recent study by the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy, Davidson County has the second most racially segregated schools in North Carolina, trailing only Halifax County. Not by coincidence, Davidson and Halifax are each home to three separate school districts, a county school district and two city school districts. Thomasville City Schools and Lexington City Schools are very small districts, both of which are even more racially isolated and higher in poverty than the towns themselves. Academic achievement in the city schools significantly lags behind the county school district which is much larger, wealthier, and whiter. While per pupil funding is higher in the city schools, the difference does not overcome the negative educational effects of poverty and racial isolation.
Political representation directly reflects the exclusion in the county in housing and education. Only Thomasville and Lexington have non-white elected representatives. Thomasville elects seven city councilors and a mayor, all at-large. Two of the Thomasville councilors are African American, a higher percentage of representation than the town’s African American population. Lexington has eight city councilors and a mayor. Six of the councilors are elected from districts; two councilors and the mayor are elected at-large. Two of Lexington’s city councilors are African American, representing the two districts that are majority African American. As Lexington is almost 30% African American, they are slightly underrepresented on the city council, probably due to the two at-large seats. All other elected officials in the county are white. The county has seven commissioners elected at-large. All are white men, five of whom are over 60. The Davidson County School Board is also all white, elected at-large but with residency districts. The towns of Midway, Wallburg, and Denton also have all-white city councils, all elected at-large.
The deep divides in Davidson County suggest solutions that sound simple, but will not be easy. Limited and geographically concentrated access to affordable housing, school districts that are divided by race and class, and the complete lack of any non-white representation in county government are critical issues, and they share a common root of residential segregation. Proposing solutions is much simpler than building the political will to challenge these entrenched divides and power structures.”