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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Rebecca Clayton, December 8, 1988. Interview K-0132. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of white flight on efforts to integrate Durham schools

Clayton briefly compares her experiences at North Durham in the early 1970s to those she had at Fayetteville Street School during the mid-1970s. According to Clayton, by the time she began to work at the Fayetteville Street School, white flight from the city had begun to impact the effectiveness of efforts to integrate the schools. Reflecting on her nearly thirty years of teaching in Durham schools, from 1970 to the time of the interview in 1998, Clayton argues that she had taught significantly more African American students than white students.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Rebecca Clayton, December 8, 1988. Interview K-0132. 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

ANGELA HORNSBY:
Okay, I wanted to see if I could get a little bit more information about your teaching experience here in Durham.
REBECCA CLAYTON:
All right, I taught five years at North Durham. The population there was both black and white. It was also during this time that the system was going through the Federal guidelines of balancing the races in the schools. In 1975, they closed to North Durham School and I transferred to Fayetteville Street School. Fayetteville Street School at that time, in compliance with these Federal guidelines, was paired with another school. So the kids from the Fayetteville Street area were bussed over to Club Boulevard, which is off of Roxboro Road and Club Boulevard and near Northgate Shopping Center. Fayetteville Street is down below North Carolina Central University. So and then the white children from the Club Boulevard area were bussed over to Fayetteville Street. Now you would have a balance in there. And you would have white students in there in '75 and '76 but that really didn't work well. Parents were not happy with that. And you had people moving out of Durham, out of Durham County. And consequently when I left Fayetteville Street in 1980, I had probably taught two years with virtually all black classes. And when I moved in 1980 to Holloway Street, we had black-white population. But by the time we moved over here in 1995, there'd been many times when I had had virtually all black classes. I may have had one or two white students or I may have had a Hispanic student but for the most part it was a large black population in that area.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
So back then—
REBECCA CLAYTON:
By back then you mean, '70, '75, 1980?
ANGELA HORNSBY:
Yeah, your experience had been primarily with black students?
REBECCA CLAYTON:
Oh, we integrated in Virginia in 19—let's see I left there in 1967—so we had integrated the schools in Virginia prior—and Prince William County which is Manassas we had integrated there before I left. So I had had experience with black students but again that was juniors, juniors in high school. I believe the year that we integrated, I had all juniors in high school. You had a serious population of students who really wanted to learn. You also had that same serious population of students in 1970, 1975. And because the black parents—I guess if you hear all these stereotypical things and you believe a lot of that stuff until you're in it and you see it's not true—because you had black parents that had the same goals and aspirations for their children but the white children did. They wanted them to do well in school. They wanted them to bring home a good report card. They wanted them to achieve so they could go on to some other level to go to college, to go to high school, to go whatever. Now I'm not necessarily seeing all of that here. I don't think anybody seems to be pushing these kids anymore. Because if you would bring the parents in, they would really make sure those kids straightened up. Now I don't see as much of that.
ANGELA HORNSBY:
But as part of your Durham experience in the schools would you say that by and large you've taught more black students than white—
REBECCA CLAYTON:
Oh I'm pretty sure it's more—yeah I think the population has been more black students than white.