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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leroy Miller, June 8, 1998. Interview K-0174. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Administrators allow or prevent racial and other violence

In this excerpt, Miller tries to explain why violence broke out during desegregation at several Charlotte schools. He seems to blame racist or disinterested administrators for allowing white students to abuse black students to the point where black students felt forced to retaliate. He also remembers one instance where a brawl nearly broke out for reasons apparently independent of the racial tensions of the moment.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leroy Miller, June 8, 1998. Interview K-0174. 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: You’re talked quite a bit about there being riots, which I gather that there was a period of time at the beginning of integration where there were a lot of disturbances at different high schools. LM: Yeah. PG: Why did that happen do you think? What caused those? LM: When they first integrated schools you had Dr. Garinger. E. H. Garinger laid the foundation for the school system as we know it now. Had it not been for Dr. Garinger, we’d be in the same predicament that they’re in in Virginia now. Before integration we had consolidation. We had a city system and a county system. Had we not had consolidation you’d have a city system that would be 99 percent black right now and a county system that would be 99 percent white. But you had people like Dr. Garinger. He saw it coming. Dr. Garinger had a group of blacks. Had they listened to Dr. Garinger we never would have had a lot of that stuff. You had a group that were picking blacks to go to white schools, freedom of choice. The kids that went to Central, those that went to Harding, and those that went to AD, the blacks, they’d been selected. The principal of Harding High School, old man Hawkins, I don't know whether he was a racist or what, but when the little black girl went there he didn’t come out and meet her or take her in school or do anything. He let the kids spit on her and do all that stuff. But when Gus went to Central and the whites attempted to turn him back, Ed Sanders went out and met him, and told them he wasn’t going to have none of that hanky-panky. But the same wasn’t true down there. When they spit on her and did all those things to her down there, then you had radical whites and you had some radical blacks. That’s when the blacks took over. They said we weren’t going to stand for that. They’d go to places. That’s where a lot of that stuff started. Of course when I went to East Mecklenburg they’d been rioting. When I got out there I found out it wasn’t racial, though. When I went to East they’d been rioting, and coming downtown and doing all of that stuff. I remember one morning I got down there by the soccer field, I guess it was about thirty-five or forty whites and eight or ten blacks. They were fixing to start something, and I said to them, “I’m going to give you thirty seconds to get in class. If you’re not in class I’m going to have you put in jail.” I called for security, and all of them went to class except about six whites and two blacks. I carried them in the office. I was going to put them in jail. The superintendent came out. We sat down in the office. I guess that was about 7:30 and that was about 1:00 or 2:00 that day, and I found out it wasn’t a racial thing. You had some whites that were bringing drugs to the campus ( ). You had these black boys that were smart enough to know that they could rip them off and nothing was going to be done about it. They were not only taking the drugs but they were taking the money. PG: Good heavens. LM: They were being ripped off. Once that stopped I didn’t have any problems. PG: So things had been blamed on racial things that weren’t necessarily related to them. LM: Yeah, at least that. They were blaming it on racial things. It’s just like it is now. Those people that are involved in drugs, you’ve got some that know they can go in there and rip them off and nothing is going to be said about it. Of course now those that are being ripped off, they’ll come back and shoot you.