Charlotte Hawkins Brown was born in Henderson, Vance County, North Carolina in 1883. Her mother taught her to read and to appreciate art and music. She wanted her children to be well educated and to overcome the limits African Americans faced in the South.
The Hawkins family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1889. Charlotte Hawkins was an excellent student in high school and she was also a natural leader and organizer. After graduating she went to the Massachusetts State Normal School at Salem and studied to become a teacher.
In 1901 Charlotte Hawkins started teaching at a rural school in Sedalia, near Greensboro, North Carolina. The run-down school closed after one term, but Hawkins decided to stay in the community and establish her own school. After raising money in New England, she established Palmer Memorial Institute in 1902.
Palmer was the only school for African American children in the area. Most walked a long way to reach the one-room schoolhouse. Students who could not pay for their education worked at the school. But all of the students had daily chores because Hawkins believed that working gave them a sense of responsibility.
She was not only a great educator but also an advocate of racial equality and women’s rights, Charlotte Hawkins Brown is a North Carolina legend.
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