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When Charlotte Country Day School set out to replace its longtime head of school, the search committee found a former world-class athlete who rarely talks about his days in sports.

In landing Mark Reed for the job, the mostly white private school just as quietly hired its first African American head. His hiring marks the slow climb of minorities into the upper rungs of once-homogenous enclaves.

Reed became the first African American head of a predominantly white private school in North Carolina, says the N.C. Association of Independent Schools. Nationally, he’s one of the few black leaders of a school of Country Day’s 1,600-student size.

But race wasn’t the search committee’s focus, said trustees chairman Watts Hamrick.

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