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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Robert Giles, September 10, 1987. Interview C-0063. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

North Carolina hoped to avoid federal intervention as occurred in the post-Civil War era, even though white residents resented the <cite>Brown</cite> ruling

Southern whites thought the Supreme Court overreached its role with the <cite>Brown</cite> case. Yet despite the public opposition to the ruling, North Carolina officials believed the state must obey the ruling, which Giles argues is a reflection of the death of the post-Civil War secession movement.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Robert Giles, September 10, 1987. Interview C-0063. 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

JAMES JENKINS:
I was interested in the general reaction that you hear about.
ROBERT GILES:
I think I can sum it up this way. Probably most people who expressed themselves wanted to keep the public schools. I'm talking about most white people. That would apply also to the blacks. Most white people that expressed themselves did not, at all, like the idea of integrating the races and wanted to avoid that. See, that's contradictory on the face. Most people did not counsel and advise, "Well let's tell the Supreme Court, up there in Washington, to go to hell." They didn't take that position but they didn't like it, see. They just didn't like it and thought that the U.S. Supreme Court had overstepped the line. It had reversed precedent in Plessy V. Ferquson of 1896, and that something ought to be done about it. See these are contradictory things. Now some, and I think they were in the minority, in fact I believe they were, would come in on the other end of the spectrum. And that is, "No mixing of races in the public schools. Draw the line. It's better to have no public schools than to have integration." So you had that. Now what the governor and the attorney general were doing, number one, they made it clear they did not like the 1954 decision. They also were counseling and reacting that as a practical matter, we are part of the United States. It's foolish to think otherwise, and whatever we do, we have to get along with the federal government. We can't go to war with it. That's silly to even think about it. Now the thing to do is sit down and be sensible and deal with details and just do the best we can. We are not telling anybody that they will have to mix races in the public schools. In the showdown, what we are saying to you is that the people have a right to make the decision. They can vote to close the public schools. Then we want to give even more of a people's choice to make this serious determination. An individual parent can elect to take his child out and get some money to pay for private schools. Now we think that that is the best way for us to go, to deal with this very unfortunate problem. That was what was being told. I think it was successful, thoughtful people, when it was brought to their attention and put into that context, they simply didn't rush over to the other end of the spectrum and join what you might say, the Lake faction or the Taylor-Tom Ellis group. There was no development of support in the General Assembly for what you might term the extreme reaction approach.