Monroe, North Carolina

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Monroe is a city in Union County, North Carolina, United States. The population was 26,228 at the 2000 census. It is the seat of government of Union County [3] and is also part of the Charlotte-Gastonia-Rock Hill, NC-SC Metropolitan area.

Contents

Geography

Monroe is located at 34°59′20″N 80°32′59″W / 34.98889°N 80.54972°W / 34.98889; -80.54972 (34.988760, -80.549792)[4]. Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport (EQY) is located five miles to the northwest of Monroe.

According to the United States Census Bureau, the city has a total area of 24.9 square miles (64.4 km²), of which, 24.6 square miles (63.6 km²) of it is land and 0.3 square miles (0.7 km²) of it (1.13%) is water.

History

In 1843, the first Board of County Commissioners, appointed by the General Assembly selected an area in the center of the county to be called Monroe, as the county seat. Monroe was incorporated in 1843. Monroe was named for James Monroe, the country’s fifth president.

Monroe was home to the Starlite Speedway in the 1960s to 70's. On May 13, 1966 the 1/2 mile dirt track hosted NASCAR's Independent 250. Darel Dieringer won the race.

Monroe is also the hometown of Jesse Helms, the late U.S. Senator from North Carolina who served five terms (1973–2003) in the Senate. Helms was a prominent (and often controversial) national leader of the Religious Right wing of the Republican Party, and played a key role in helping Ronald Reagan become President of the United States. Helms's father served as Police and Fire Chief of Monroe for many years. The Jesse Helms Center is in neighboring Wingate, NC.

Monroe also became a focal point during the Civil Rights Movement. In 1958, local NAACP Chapter President Robert F. Williams defended a nine-year-old African-American boy who had been kissed by a white girl in an incident known as the Kissing Case. A second African-American boy, aged seven, was also convicted and sentenced to live in a juvenile reformatory until he was 21 for simply witnessing the act. In 1961, Williams was accused of kidnapping an elderly white couple, when he sheltered them in his house during a very explosive situation of high racial tensions. Williams fled and went into exile in Cuba and in the People's Republic of China before returning to the United States.

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