Tom Bradshaw was proud to be a part of the integration of the City of Raleigh and Wake County Schools.
The former Raleigh mayor (1971-73) prefers to be seen as an education advocate. But his campaign to build the Raleigh Beltline made the idea of a single countywide school system viable.
Bradshaw, who was recently inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame, was a volunteer with the League of Women Voters to promote a $20 million bond issue for Raleigh public schools in 1960.
The experience motivated him to become even more involved in education.
As mayor, he knew a strong public school system was the key factor in economic development and believed the best way to enhance the public school system in Wake County was to merge the two existing systems.
Bradshaw says merging the school systems was “the right thing to do for all the young people in Wake County.
“The key to our growth and prosperity has been the investment we have made to combine the school systems,” he says. “The establishment of the new magnet system that occurred allowed us to facilitate integration.”
Bradshaw wasn’t done. To honor the passing of Clarence E. Lightner, the first black mayor of Raleigh and Bradshaw’s successor, he and several others founded the Lightener Leadership Institute for Middle School Students in 2003, today part of the Triangle YMCA Achievers Program. This program was created to inspire leadership skills, entrepreneurship, and perseverance in young students in the Triangle – characteristics Bradshaw himself has always portrayed.
Today, while others his age may be slowing down, Bradshaw remains engaged. He is the Statewide Logistics Director and Executive Director of the North Carolina State Ports Authority and Global TransPark Authority, an active member of the Public School Forum of North Carolina and a co-chair of “Our Kids Won’t Wait,” the Forum’s Study Group XIV. He also serves on the Board of Directors of St. Augustine’s University.