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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Separate schools are OK so long as they are equal

McKissick considers busing and integration. He thinks that the issue of busing can obscure the larger need to properly educate children, and even interfere with their education by exiling them from their communities. He sees nothing wrong with a school that is nearly all black if students receive a quality education there.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., December 6, 1973. Interview A-0134. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JACK BASS:
If you have time, I would like to ask you about your perception of busing. In particular, the black perception of busing.
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
I've got to run to Charlotte and they tell me I've got about a dozen phone calls to make before I run now. I'm a believer that just the physical bus itself can't really solve constitutional problems. It's people that have to solve the problems and busing is overemphasizing a mechanical method to achieve a social goal. And in some instances, busing is desirable, in other instances, busing would not be a desirable thing. Just like I think that many places in the South, including North Carolina, when finally the courts said "we will have integration," integration meant that you were going to lose the black schools. They were going to close. In many instances it destroyed that black middle class society, which would have been… I mean teachers in that group…it had a very bad effect, because then there was educational effort to bring people together, so to speak. These lost jobs and in many instances, left the community. Then you had a battle between the haves and have nots. I think that integration has been used,…it has thrown many black teachers out of jobs in the South. Southern Regional Council, you see…talk to John Lewis, I think they gathered much data and statistics on just effective integration has been and to what extent and where these black teachers went and how many left jobs, etc. I digresss to get back to the point of busing. I'd much rather see in many instances…there is nothing wrong with a school that is predominantly black if you've really got the facilities, the equipment and the teachers there. Nothing wrong with it. What are you going to do about that in, say, the eastern part of North Carolina where you have counties like Warren or many of these counties, where the population is going to make that school a predominantly black school. It's there. Period. And the kids need to be educated, period. And you are going to bus these kids over to some other place and that is going to force a closing while in the meantime, these kids need an education. You need to be dealing with the issues and I think that every kid has an individual constitutional right to an education. So, I think that sometimes…I believe in busing. But I believe that…I don't like to apply a general rule, being a lawyer, there are more exceptions to general rules than the application of the general rules…the number of times it is applied to a given situation. I think you have to look at a situation and determine who those people are and what they are trying to seek and then try to bring those people together to achieve the goals that we set for ourselves. [interruption]
FLOYD MCKISSICK:
…it might not be 100% free of racism…, but I bet you that if we can get in there, it will be 70% free of racism. Because I think that we are automatically running those people out who believe in that concept and those who don't believe in it aren't going to be around anyway.