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Kathleen Crosby

Educator Kathleen "Kat" Crosby was born on March 9, 1925, in Winnsboro, South Carolina, to Beatrice Tucker and W.A. Ross. She graduated from Johnson C. Smith University in Charlotte, North Carolina, with a B.A. in 1946 and later earned her M.A. from Bank Street College in New York City in 1970.

Crosby began teaching in 1946 in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System. Aside from twenty years of experience as a classroom teacher, she served as an in-service specialist for early childhood education from 1967 to 1970. Crosby worked at length with Head Start programs and has offered her services as an education consultant at the university level. From 1970 to 1976, Crosby was principal of Billingsville Elementary School. There, she was hailed for her successful leadership in dealing with school desegregation and busing issues. A 1976 CBS television documentary highlighted her outstanding leadership of Billingsville Elementary School. In 1976, Crosby became an area assistant superintendent to the district, which comprised twenty-five schools. She retired as superintendent in 1986 after a successful forty-year career.

In 1970, Crosby was appointed to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Charter Commission. An outspoken voice on desegregation, Crosby was named WBT Radio's Woman of the Year 1976. In 1977, she was appointed to the University of North Carolina Board of Governors. Crosby has served as vice president of the United Community Service Board and on the Community Relations Committee, the University of North Carolina's Board of Trustees, the Drug Education Board, WBT Radio's Black Advisory Board and the Board of Trustees for Johnson C. Smith University. In 1974, she was awarded the B'nai B'rith Women's Human Relations Award, and in 1975 she was inducted into the NAACP's Hall of Fame.

Her husband of fifty-one years, Joseph Crosby, died in June 2001. They have two children, Joseph Crosby, Jr. and Kathy Wells.

Kathleen Crosby passed away on November 13, 2012.

Accession Number




Interview Date


Last Name


Maker Category

Johnson C. Smith University

Fairfield County Training School

Voorhees College

Bank Street College

First Name


Birth City, State, Country




Favorite Season

Christmas, Thanksgiving


Knight Foundation


South Carolina

Favorite Vacation Destination

Atlantic City, New Jersey

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

North Carolina

Interview Description
Birth Date


Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City




Favorite Food

Pole Beans, White Potatoes

Death Date


Short Description

Elementary school teacher and school superintendent Kathleen Crosby (1925 - 2012 ) was an active desegregation advocate and the former superintendent of the Charlotte/Mecklenberg School District in North Carolina.


Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System

Billingsville Elementary School

Main Sponsor
Favorite Color

All Colors

Timing Pairs

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Kathleen Crosby's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Kathleen Crosby lists her favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her parents

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Kathleen Crosby describes her family background

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Kathleen Crosby describes her family life as a young girl

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Kathleen Crosby attempts to trace her family's origins

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Kathleen Crosby describes her parents, who were both teachers

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her favorite childhood activities

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Kathleen Crosby describes her childhood neighborhood in Winnsboro, South Carolina

Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her family's love of poetry and Paul Laurence Dunbar, her favorite poet

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Kathleen Crosby talks about the decline of poetry in today's schools

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her performance in grade school

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Kathleen Crosby remembers Ms. Cutsy, a role model

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Kathleen Crosby remembers a mean teacher

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her church's music traditions

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Kathleen Crosby talks about Fairfield County Training School in Winnsboro, South Carolina

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her brothers W.A. and Paul Ross

Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Kathleen Crosby performs "Sadie at the Movie"

Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her high school experience and her parents' value for education

Tape: 2 Story: 10 - Kathleen Crosby describes race relations in Winnsboro, South Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her college years at Voorhees Junior College and Johnson C. Smith University

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Kathleen Crosby talks about her courtship with her husband, Joseph C. Crosby, Sr.

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Kathleen Crosby talks about an ex-boyfriend who committed suicide

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Kathleen Crosby talks about the beginning of her teaching career

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Kathleen Crosby talks about Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Board of Education

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Kathleen Crosby talks about the integration of Billingsville Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Kathleen Crosby describes her becoming the principal of Billingsville Elementary School in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Kathleen Crosby describes an incident as area superintendent in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, pt.1

Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Kathleen Crosby describes an incident as area superintendent in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, pt.2

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Kathleen Crosby remembers being interviewed by CBS' Charles Collingwood for a "60 Minutes" segment on integration in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Kathleen Crosby talks about Ku Klux Klan activities in Charlotte, North Carolina

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Kathleen Crosby describes being targeted by the Ku Klux Klan

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Kathleen Crosby talks about being area superintendent for Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools

Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Kathleen Crosby describes her hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Kathleen Crosby reflects upon her legacy

Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Kathleen Crosby identifies problems in the school system

Tape: 4 Story: 8 - Kathleen Crosby reflects on her parents' pride in and support of her

Tape: 4 Story: 9 - Kathleen Crosby talks about how she would like to be remembered

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Kathleen Crosby narrates her photographs, pt.1

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Kathleen Crosby narrates her photographs, pt.2

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Kathleen Crosby narrates her photographs, pt.3







Kathleen Crosby remembers Ms. Cutsy, a role model
Kathleen Crosby describes an incident as area superintendent in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, pt.2
Tell us about school. Like, who were your teachers and who were the mentors in the community? Did you have some role models in the community, other than your parents, that you looked up to that, that you--$$We--$$--in the church, or--$$Now listen, there was a woman in my church named Ms. Cutsy Smith [ph.].$$How do you spell that?$$I don't know. We just called her Ms. Cutsy. I--$$Cutsy?$$Uh-huh, Cutsy. I think it's C-U-T-S-Y. I don't know where she got--I never heard of that name, Ms. Cutsy Smith. Now you know I was telling you about the blind lady that we used to take care of. But Ms. Cutsy was a strong black woman, who, if she could have gone to college, she probably would've been the president of the world. And she had a daughter named Edna. And she, she, she was kind of country, and you know, laid back. And Ms., Ms. Cutsy was a member of our church, First Baptist Church. We, we were two doors from the church. And Ms. Cutsy would sit on the front seat, the pew, the, the--see, it's, it's two rows--I mean two aisles like that, and then pews over there, and pews over there. She would sit on the front seat on the left, and her husband would sit on the right of the front pew. And they, they sit up--she sat up, and, and, and the minister we had, he was not one of those--when they say seeing that colored preacher clearing his throat and bowing his head, you know that's in Paul Laurence Dunbar too, but this man's very intelligent, Reverend Beatty [ph.]. He was my minister, and his wife was a seamstress, and she just stayed at home and had, she had three smart kids. And they did music. They could sing, and they could play and all. And now my sister could sing pretty well and, and play too. All of us had to learn how to play the piano, play something. But anyway, Reverend Beatty was not like those priests who usually said (imitates), you know. Unh-uh, he was very intelligent. And he says, "And the Lord said, 'Let there be light.'" She said, "Hm, sure, God is light, hm. When God say for it to be light, it's gone be light." And I would be back there cracking up. Mother's [Beatrice Ross] punching, "Kathleen," (laughter) she said. And one Sunday he said, "Now you all need to stay together. If you're married, you don't need to divorce; just stay together." He say, "Hm, what you say, hun?" She say, "Hm, think I'm gone turn back now? Hell, no, hm," (laughter). She'd do all that in church. Ms. Cutsy, I just loved her to death. And then she, she--I never will forget one day she came from church, and I, I was back home. My mother was not well then. See, I was much older then, and my children were already born. And I had taken my children down to see about my mother over the--on the weekend sometimes from Charlotte [North Carolina] to, down there. And the children were playing. And both of my kids are fair complected. Both of 'em got that colors from, from them--my mother and Joe's mother. Both of 'em got fair complexion. She said, "Now whose chaps is these right here?" I said, "They're mine." "They mighty yellow," (laughter). She, Ms. Cutsy was a killer (laughter).$But anyway, when, when they had the hearing, all these rich parents came, 'cause it was about thirty of 'em came in and sat down. They just stormed the place and sat down. I was sitting up there by myself. And when the custo- see, she'd told the custodians to come up there because they were gonna be trying to get my job. And see, he didn't know what was going on, "Yes ma'am, yes ma'am." He walks up there, "Mrs., Mrs. Crosby, I didn't know they was trying to get after you. I'm a sit with you." I said, "You don't need to sit with me, baby. If you want to, you can." I just sat on up there just as happy. And so when the board took, took the--they listened to what was going on, two white women who were on the board voted for her to keep her job. Those white men, who knew I was doing my job--I had the sweetest man who, who got on the school board named Walter McKeithen [ph.]. He's a, he's a lawyer. He was in my PTA [Parent Teacher Association] when I was the principal of Billingsville. And Ashley Mc- Hogwood [Ashley Hogwood] was on the board too. Shucks, they was up--I knew they were in my corner 'cause they knew how I good I was to their kids and the, black and white kids. Honey, all those guys, every--and Dicky Spangler [Clemmie Spangler, Jr.], you know Dicky Spangler? Oh, he's a--child, millionaire. He built so many houses, and he's a millionaire. He was on the board too. Honey, those people got out, he said, "Mrs. Crosby is doing her job." And so, it came out that--I, I didn't want them to fire her, but she wasn't gone work for me, not in that school. So they demoted her and put her in an elementary school in a poor neighborhood. So she didn't have to pick out the rich and the poor. All of them were poor. And so, but she didn't (unclear) with me 'cause she knew she was wrong. And so, oh, it was all in the paper, child. Oh, they loved to put everything in the paper. I just sat up there. When I went out, those women, they stormed me when I started out the door. She said (gesture), "You bring Ms. Davis back to us." I said, "Just get back." I was just like this, Red Sea. I said, "Step back, miss." (Laughter), "That's all I'm gonna say, step back." And they started standing back, and I just walked through that sea of meanness. And when I got out to the elevator, two little blonde girls sitting there, "Mrs. Crosby, you are doing your job. And I told my mother she didn't have any business up here" 'cause she didn't have any business doing that to those children. Kids know everything. I got on my elevator, and got in my car, and came on home. That was the end of that. And when I see her now, she speaks and everything, but she's not in this, in this system. She's not, she's not anywhere now. But anyway, it was hard, but I enjoyed it. And Jay Robinson was my superintendent, and he always treated me right. And doctor--another superintendent came in. He was nice too. I didn't have any trouble getting along with folk, but I didn't take no stuff. Just give 'em that eye (laughter). You saw my boy, my boy in there talking about putting my picture up in your kitchen, David (laughter). Dave is a mess. But I--all of 'em, I, I didn't fall out with any of 'em. I just had to do my job.