73 years ago, Pearl Thompson was denied a library card at a library in North Carolina because the library didn’t give cards to black people at the time. Thompson needed to card the check out books that weren’t available at Shaw University. But last Thursday, Thomas was able to cross that off her bucket list.
Thomas recently paid a visit to that same library and got her card!
The Olivia Raney Library was the city’s first public library and later became a part of the larger Wake County Public Library system. In the 1960’s, it merged with Richard B. Harrison Library — a library Deborah said Pearl helped to launch — which only served blacks at the time. The Olivia Raney Library, which is now closed, serves as a local history library and the administration at Cameron Village Library, which opened right after Olivia Raney Library closed, held a ceremony in Pearl’s honor last week.
“We all felt that the presentation of Mrs. Thompson’s library card needed to be honored with a ceremony and we also wanted the opportunity to rectify a mistake of the past,” Ann Burlingame, deputy director of Wake County Public Libraries, told The Huffington Post on Tuesday.
After college, Pearl, who has always been an advocate for education, went on to become a teacher in Raleigh for nearly fifty years.
Thompson told the News & Observer she isn’t angry. “I don’t hold any kind of hate in my heart, because that doesn’t do it,” she said. “That doesn’t get you there.”