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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Isabella Cannon, June 27, 1989. Interview C-0062. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

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

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.
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.