Inquisition v. City of Charlotte

Inquisition v. City of Charlotte was a landmark First Amendment Supreme Court decision.

The Inquisition was an underground newspaper produced by East Mecklenburg High School students and their various contributors bi-monthly in Charlotte, North Carolina from April 1968 to late 1969.


The Inquisition
Cover of volume II issue 3 of Inquisition (1969)
SchoolEast Mecklenburg High School
Founder(s)Lee Douglas, Hanson Dunbar, Lynwood Sawyer, Russell Schwarz, and Tom Wilkinson
LaunchedApril 1968 (1968-04)
Ceased publication1969 (1969)
HeadquartersCharlotte, North Carolina
OCLC number1644632

The Inquisition was an underground newspaper produced by high school students—mostly attending East Mecklenburg High School—and their various friends bi-monthly in Charlotte, North Carolina from April 1968 to late 1969. Inquisition was the first Underground Press Syndicate member from the U.S. South[citation needed] and a member of Liberation News Service. Copies of Inquisition can be found in 15 university libraries.[1]

After a first issue of only 81, the magazine went to 450 then doubled again by the third issue.[2] By its final issues, the newspaper inspired emotional rejections by parents and became an underground icon for teens.[3]

Inquisition reporters are rumored to have taped one of Jimi Hendrix's last concerts for issue #3.[4]

Superior Court caseEdit

The paper was the subject of a landmark First Amendment case, "Inquisition vs City of Charlotte", pitting freedom of the press against a city zoning ordinance from March - May, 1969.[5][6][7] The case, which was partially decided by placing the sound of the paper's small printer against the sound of a power mower, was found in favor of Inquisition.[8][9]


Inquisition was revisited by way of an interview with two founders, Russell Schwarz and Lynwood Sawyer, with scholar Suzanne Sink and host Michael Collins on WFAE's Charlotte Talks on November 10, 2010 and rebroadcast on January 16, 2012.[10][11]

Inquisition's story was featured in a retrospective on the year 1968 in Charlotte Magazine September 2013.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Inquisition". WorldCat. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  2. ^ Dayberry, Don (26 August 1968). "A Newspaper Inquisition". Charlotte Observer. p. 10A.
  3. ^ "Mother's Afraid of 'Inquisition'". Charlotte Observer. 9 April 1969.
  4. ^ "May 09th, 1969". Jimi Hendrix Encyclopedia. Sony Music Entertainment. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  5. ^ Sink, Suzanne Parenti (October 2011). "Fueling the Southern Underground Movement: Inquisition v. The City of Charlotte". Studies in American Culture. 34 (1): 129. 76115600. Archived from the original on 2015-12-23. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  6. ^ Taylor, Nick (28 March 1969). "Embattled 'Inquisition' Gets Timely Assist from Judge". The Charlotte News.
  7. ^ Taylor, Nick (21 April 1969). "'Inquisition' Case Lacks Precedents: Historic Ruling Ahead?". The Charlotte News. p. 20B.
  8. ^ Taylor, Nick (11 April 1969). "Inquisition Zone OK, Youths Told: Editors Testify at Hearing". The Charlotte News. p. 1C.
  9. ^ Taylor, Nick (12 May 1968). "Judge Gives Ruling: 'Inquisition' Press Can Start Rolling". The Charlotte News. pp. 1A, 4A.
  10. ^ "The "Inquisition"". WFAE. 10 November 2010. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  11. ^ "The Inquisition Magazine (Rebroadcast)". WFAE. Retrieved 23 December 2015.
  12. ^ McShane, Chuck (16 August 2013). "The Past: 1968". Charlotte Magazine. Retrieved 23 December 2015.

External linksEdit