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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Family-like atmosphere at segregated school

Second Ward "was a family," Griffin remembers, as he describes the accomplishments of one prominent Second Ward student. He thinks the ethos of Second Ward continues to motivate people to achieve.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. 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

PG: What are the lessons of Second Ward for people who don’t know it from experience? AG: Well, the lessons of Second Ward is, it was a family. People came together during difficult times, to reach excellence. And when I say excellence, we had folk like Belinda Tolbert, who played Jenny on “The Jeffersons” for years. She was a younger classmate, probably two, three years younger. But she always loved to play and act. We used to say, “Aw, girl, that’s just crazy.” But out on the playground, she’d be acting, and we’d be, “Aah.” But look, she became a movie star. Not a movie star, she was in a couple of movies, but at least a TV star, back in the old days. So the importance of the lessons for the community at large, for the sake of other people, is that, hey, there were great things happening in Second Ward. Great people were there. People who cared about life, who cared about this community, who made a lot of great contributions to the Charlotte community over time. And with respect to the future, when you look back at some of the contributions, it motivates us toward excellence as relates to the community today. Look at what people were able to d thirty, forty, fifty years ago; look what we have today and the potential for greatness as a community, both black and white. Not only in public education, but in life in general. I think that would be a lesson to take away to the community at large, is our great potential.