Charles L. Coon, Progressive Educator and Human Rights Advocate


Charles L. Coon with Wilson, NC school children circa 1913

Last Friday the library was given a highy significant gift of education related photographs of Wilson during the early 20th century as well as monographs and documents pertaining to the emminent progressive thinker and educator Charles L. Coon (1868-1927).  Charles L. Coon was a man before his time in his advocation of child labor laws and fight for equal education for African Americans.  He was derided by the Raleigh News and Observer of the era but was much loved by many of the citizens of Wilson and the hundreds of school children that he taught and fought for in his positions as superintendant of Salisbury, NC schools, African American normal schools and Wilson County, NC schools.  He also served as president of Wilson Welfare League, secretary of the North Carolina Child Labor Committee and directly involved in starting and the funding of the Negro Tuberculosis Sanitorium in Wilson, NC.  Unfortunately he didn’t live to see the defeat of the mill owner lobby with the passing of the child labor laws in 1938 or the dismantling of the Jim Crow South in the 1960’s but he is remembered as an early fighter for human rights in the American South.


4 thoughts on “Charles L. Coon, Progressive Educator and Human Rights Advocate

  1. My Grandson was born on May 23, 2016. He born in Lincolnton, North Carolina. He named Charles. I hope he will be just as great as Charles. L Coon or greater when its come time to standing up for what is right. I hope he made his generation the generation the greatest , like Charles. L Coon.

      • Oh yeah he did do all that. He probably was a misogynist and racist to a certain degree, but less racist than some at the time. I wrote that article when I first got to town and didn’t know anything about him. The article was influenced by a lady who wrote her masters thesis on him and donated some materials as well as told me one side of his life, which sounded progressive to me. It was only later did others fill in the blanks. I welcome discourse and enjoy hearing the dialectic about CL Coon.

  2. Isn’t Coon, also known for slapping a Black educator? Didn’t most of the teachers resign and parents took their children out of school, about his treatment of this teacher? Didn’t Black begin their own school after that? Didn’t the principal of the school, Mr. Reid, keep his mouth shut regarding the incident, not withstanding he was there when it happened?

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