The Ultimate Library Return: Black Woman Receives Library Card 73 Years After Being Denied

In 1942, the library at Shaw University denied Pearl Thompson a library card based on her race. Yes, that’s right; some people didn’t want white and colored people to even read the same books. Crazy, huh? We think so too. But that’s part of what makes this story so interesting.

Pearl needed to read though, of course. As a student at the university, books were the key to successful learning and passing classes. What was she to do?

According to Huffington Post, Pearl read the needed texts at the library, but not in the same way everyone else did. Instead, she read books in the basement.

Of course, a few things have changed since this woman was a college student. Happily, students (and everyone else) can no longer be denied access to libraries or any other public spaces or amenities based on their race. And although Pearl didn’t know it then, she would eventually receive the equal rights she always deserved. This one in particular really yanked on our heartstrings.

Several years after receiving her education from Shaw University, at the ripe old age of 93, Thompson finally received her library card. During her visit to the university library, she shared stories of her time teaching children the joys and importance of reading.

Watch the video to see Pearl receiving her card!

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