School busing and geographical segregation
Cannon describes the reaction to school desegregation in her Raleigh, North Carolina, neighborhood. According to Cannon, the community was generally supportive of desegregation until the issue of busing surfaced. Cannon acknowledges here own mixed feelings about busing as a viable solution, while reiterating her support of civil rights in general. In discussing the issue of busing, Cannon focuses on issues of geographical segregation and its impact on changing race relations.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, June 27, 1989. Interview C-0062. 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
- KATHRYN NASSTROM:
One thing I will ask you about, because other people I have interviewed
have spoken about the school integration aspect, which would then have
really been in the late 60's and early 70's, later
than the sort of voter registration drives you've just
described. Do you have a recollection of how your neighborhood or
Raleigh in general responded to the court orders for desegregation.
- ISABELLA CANNON:
Of course, there was a lot of opposition to it, but it always made sense
to me, and I was not really involved with that. I'm more
involved with the schools now than I had been, but I was not
particularly involved with the schools, and of course, the problems
became so difficult when the need for busing arose, and the opposition
arose to busing, but busing was the only way that integration could be
resolved. I live close to Oberlin, which was a wonderful black community
that is disappearing, and one that I would like to
see saved from total disappearance. But here on Oberlin Road where black
churches and black schools and the children would go by in the buses
past white schools and go much farther to go to the black schools, and I
thought this was dreadful. I thought this was a very, very bad thing.
There are good things about neighborhood schools. People can walk to
school and don't have to depend on buses, but with our wide
spread - I think this may be particularly apropos in the
South - we are so spread out that your communities,
you've almost got to have busing to bring in a mix. I suppose
this is true in large cities, too, because people tend to, not
necessarily be in ghettos, but they're in neighborhoods of
like, either cultural backgrounds or it can be the nationalities or it
could be the black neighborhoods. So I suppose busing is the only thing
that could be done to resolve the problem, but it became and still is a
problem for the schools. I see it, though, as disappearing.
I'm out in the schools to a degree now, and I
don't see, and this may be surface, because I'm
not there all day, but I don't see the . . . I see an
acceptance. I see black young women becoming the leaders and being
elected President. Well, I don't think that could have
happened ten years ago or fifteen years ago, and so while there are many
steps yet to be taken, there is a movement forward into integration and
acceptance of other people. There will always be cultural differences
because you grow up in your own family and your own family background
and your own cultural background, and this is something to be cherished.
It should not be lost, but when people try to
eliminate those cultural differences and the richness of the heritage,
then I am disturbed. I want people to be able to live together, to be
able to work together, to accept each other, without holding against
them any differences. Acceptance of the differences is the important
thing, and I think we're making some progress.