In 1958, a kiss made civil rights history. It happened in Monroe, North Carolina. Two African American children, James Hanover Thompson and David Simpson, were said to have kissed a girl who was white. They were arrested and accused of rape.

thompson-5The incident became known around the world as “The Kissing Case.” But over time, it was largely forgotten.

Even the Thompson family rarely talked about it–until they came to StoryCorps, where James (L) sat down with his younger brother, Dwight (R), and told him what happened.

Under political pressure, the governor of North Carolina released the two friends. James then spent most of his adult life in and out of prison for robbery.

His sister, Brenda Lee Graham (pictured left), also came to StoryCorps. She remembered what life was like for the family after James had been arrested.

Originally aired April 29, 2011, on NPR’s Morning Edition.