Monroe, North Carolina

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Monroe, North Carolina
Union County Courthouse, Monroe, NC September 2017.jpg
Union County Courthouse and Confederate Monument in Monroe
"Where Heartland Meets High Tech"
Location of Monroe, North Carolina
Coordinates: 34°59′20″N80°32′59″W / 34.98889°N 80.54972°W / 34.98889; -80.54972 Coordinates: 34°59′20″N80°32′59″W / 34.98889°N 80.54972°W / 34.98889; -80.54972
CountryUnited States
State North Carolina
County Union
Named for James Monroe
  Type Council–manager
  MayorBobby Kilgore
  Mayor Pro TemMarion Holloway
  Total30.94 sq mi (80.15 km2)
  Land30.33 sq mi (78.55 km2)
  Water0.61 sq mi (1.59 km2)
591 ft (180 m)
(2019) [3]
  Density1,171.82/sq mi (452.44/km2)
Time zone UTC−5 (Eastern (EST))
  Summer (DST) UTC−4 (EDT)
ZIP codes
Area code(s) 704
FIPS code 37-43920 [4]
GNIS feature ID0990144 [5]

Monroe is a city in and the county seat of Union County, North Carolina, United States. [6] The population increased from 26,228 in 2000 to 32,797 in 2010. It is within the rapidly growing Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC Metropolitan area. Monroe has a council-manager form of government.



Monroe was founded as a planned settlement. In 1843, the first Board of County Commissioners, appointed by the General Assembly, selected an area in the center of the county as the county seat, and Monroe was incorporated that year. It was named for James Monroe, the country's fifth president. It became a trading center for the agricultural areas of the Piedmont region, which cultivated tobacco.

Monroe was home to the Starlite Speedway in the 1960s to 1970s. On May 13, 1966, the 1/2 mile dirt track hosted NASCAR's 'Independent 250.' Darel Dieringer won the race.

Since 1984, Ludwig drums and timpani have been manufactured in Monroe.

As part of the developing Charlotte metropolitan area, in the 21st century, Monroe has attracted new Hispanic residents. North Carolina has encouraged immigration to increase its labor pool.

The Malcolm K. Lee House, Monroe City Hall, Monroe Downtown Historic District, Monroe Residential Historic District, Piedmont Buggy Factory, John C. Sikes House, Union County Courthouse, United States Post Office, and Waxhaw-Weddington Roads Historic District are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [7]

Civil rights struggle

Racial segregation established by a white-dominated state legislature after the end of the Reconstruction era, persisted for nearly a century into the 1960s. Following World War II, many local blacks and veterans, including Marine veteran Robert F. Williams, began to push to regain their constitutional rights after having served the United States and the cause of freedom during the war. This would come to be met with some resistance. During this time, the city had a population estimated at 12,000; the press reported an estimated 7,500 members of the Ku Klux Klan gathering in the city, many coming from South Carolina, being only 14 miles from the state border. [8]

Williams was elected as president of the local chapter of the NAACP; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People had been founded in the early 1900s. He began to work to integrate public facilities, starting with the library and the city's swimming pool, which both excluded blacks. He noted that not only did blacks pay taxes as citizens that supported operations of such facilities, but they had been built with federal funds during the Great Depression of the 1930s. [8]

In 1958 Williams hired Conrad Lynn, a civil rights attorney from New York City, to aid in defending two African-American boys, aged nine and seven. They had been convicted of "molestation" and sentenced to a reformatory until age 21 for kissing a white girl their age on the cheek. This became known as the Kissing Case. The former First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt, talked to the North Carolina governor to urge restraint, and the case became internationally embarrassing for the United States. After three months, the governor pardoned the boys.

During the civil rights movement years of the 1960s, there was rising in Ku Klux Klan white violence against the minority black community of Monroe. Williams began to advocate black armed self-defense. Groups known as the Deacons for Defense, were founded by other civil rights leaders in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The NAACP and the black community in Monroe provided a base for some of the Freedom Riders in 1961, who were trying to integrate interstate bus travel through southern states. They had illegally imposed segregation in such buses in the South, although interstate travel was protected under the federal constitution's provisions regulating interstate commerce. Mobs attacked pickets marching for the Freedom Riders at the county courthouse. That year, Williams was accused of kidnapping an elderly white couple, when he sheltered them in his house during an explosive situation of high racial tensions.[ citation needed ]

Williams and his wife fled the United States to avoid prosecution for kidnapping. They went into exile for years in Cuba and in the People's Republic of China. In 1969 they finally returned to the United States, after Congress had passed important civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965. The trial of Williams was scheduled in 1975, but North Carolina finally reviewed its case and dropped the charges against him.[ citation needed ]

The Jesse Helms family was prominent among the white community during these years. Jesse Helms Sr. served as Police and Fire Chief of Monroe for many years. Jesse Helms, Jr. was born and grew up in the town, where whites were Democrats in his youth. He became a politician and was elected five terms (1973–2003) as the U.S. Senator from North Carolina, switching to the Republican Party as it attracted conservative whites. He mustered support in the South, and played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan to be elected as President of the United States. Through that period, he was also a prominent (and often controversial) national leader of the Religious Right wing of the Republican Party. The Jesse Helms Center is in neighboring Wingate, North Carolina.


Charlotte–Monroe Executive Airport (EQY) is located 5 mi (8.0 km) northwest of Monroe.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.9 square miles (64 km2), of which, 24.6 square miles (64 km2) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.78 km2) of it (1.13%) is water.


Historical population
1850 204
1860 23917.2%
1870 1,144378.7%
1880 1,56436.7%
1890 1,86619.3%
1900 2,42730.1%
1910 4,08268.2%
1920 4,0840.0%
1930 6,10049.4%
1940 6,4756.1%
1950 10,14056.6%
1960 10,8827.3%
1970 11,2823.7%
1980 12,63912.0%
1990 16,12727.6%
2000 26,22862.6%
2010 32,79725.0%
2019 (est.)35,540 [3] 8.4%
U.S. Decennial Census

As of the census [4] of 2010, there were 32,797 people, 9,029 households, and 6,392 families residing in the city. The population density was 1,067.5 people per square mile (412.2/km2). There were 9,621 housing units at an average density of 391.6 per square mile (151.2/km2). The racial makeup of the city was 60.12% White, 27.78% African American, 0.44% Native American, 0.65% Asian, 0.03% Pacific Islander, 9.37% from other races, and 1.60% from two or more races. Hispanic or Latino of any race were 21.39% of the population.

There were 9,029 households, out of which 33.7% had children under the age of 18 living with them, 49.0% were married couples living together, 15.9% had a female householder with no husband present, and 29.2% were non-families. 23.3% of all households were made up of individuals, and 8.3% had someone living alone who was 65 years of age or older. The average household size was 2.83 and the average family size was 3.27.

In the city, the population was spread out, with 26.9% under the age of 18, 11.6% from 18 to 24, 32.6% from 25 to 44, 18.0% from 45 to 64, and 10.8% who were 65 years of age or older. The median age was 31 years. For every 100 females, there were 102.5 males. For every 100 females age 18 and over, there were 101.1 males.

The median income for a household in the city was $40,457, and the median income for a family was $44,953. Males had a median income of $30,265 versus $22,889 for females. The per capita income for the city was $17,970. About 11.7% of families and 17.2% of the population were below the poverty line, including 28.7% of those under age 18 and 12.8% of those age 65 or over.


Two minor league baseball teams in the Western Carolinas League were based in Monroe. The Monroe Indians were in the city in 1969, [9] while the Monroe Pirates were there in 1971. [10]


The local newspaper is The Enquirer-Journal, which is published three days a week (Wednesday, Friday and Sunday). [11]

The local radio stations are WIXE 1190 AM radio and WDZD 99.1 FM. [12] [13]

Notable people

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Robert F. Williams American civil rights activist

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Kissing Case Arrest, conviction and lengthy sentencing of two black boys in North Carolina after a white girl kissed them on the cheek

The Kissing Case is the arrest, conviction and lengthy sentencing of two prepubescent African-American boys in 1958 in Monroe, North Carolina. A white girl kissed the two boys on the cheek and later told her mother, who accused the boys of rape. The boys were then charged by authorities of molestation. Civil rights activists became involved in representing the boys. The boys were arrested in October 1958, separated from their parents for a week, beaten and threatened by investigators, then sentenced by a Juvenile Court judge.


  1. "City Council". Official Website for Monroe North Carolina. Retrieved October 5, 2019.
  2. "2019 U.S. Gazetteer Files". United States Census Bureau. Retrieved July 27, 2020.
  3. 1 2 "Population and Housing Unit Estimates". United States Census Bureau. May 24, 2020. Retrieved May 27, 2020.
  4. 1 2 "U.S. Census website". United States Census Bureau . Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  5. "US Board on Geographic Names". United States Geological Survey. October 25, 2007. Retrieved January 31, 2008.
  6. "Find a County". National Association of Counties. Retrieved June 7, 2011.
  7. "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places . National Park Service. July 9, 2010.
  8. 1 2 Williams, Robert F. "1957: Swimming Pool Showdown", Southern Exposure, c. Summer 1980; the article appeared in a special issue devoted to the Ku Klux Klan, accessed 17 November 2013
  9. "Western Carolinas League (A) Encyclopedia and History". Baseball Reference. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  10. "1971 Monroe Pirates". Baseball Reference. Retrieved August 30, 2016.
  11. "About Us". The Enquirer Journal. Archived from the original on August 14, 2011. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  12. WIXE Radio. "WIXE The Mighty One". WIXE Radio. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  13. WDZD 99.1 FM. "Monroe's Only Oldies Station". WDZD. Retrieved March 11, 2016.
  14. "Carroll McCray". Furman University Athletics. Retrieved December 7, 2016.
  15. Molotsky, Irvin. (May 24, 199). James Nance, Ex-Admiral, 77. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
  16. Samuel I. Parker - NC Highway Historical Marker Program. Retrieved October 19, 2020.
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  18. "NC, SC Officials Say Serial Killer is Under Arrest". WIS TV. March 9, 2006.
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