Resource inequalities at black schools
In this excerpt, Miller explains why he thought integration was important. He remembers in particular the poor quality of the resources at black schools. He did take advantage of one of the curious loopholes of Jim Crow, however: while black people were not allowed to attend segregated North Carolina colleges and universities, the state would pay for them to attend school elsewhere. Miller used this program to get an advanced degree at Penn State. But inequality between schools was evident in Pennsylvania, too.
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: In 1954 when the Supreme Court had their decision, Brown v. Board of Education, did you think the schools should be integrated? Did you think that that was an important thing?
LM: Yeah. I thought it was important. Prior to then, blacks, I couldn’t go to Carolina. I couldn’t go to Duke. I couldn’t go to Wake Forest. But I came out of service in 1945, and I started work then. I could go to NYU, Columbia, Penn State, Minnesota. Those were some of the schools that I could attend. I went to Penn State. I’d go there in the summer. When you go to Penn State and when you come back, well up there they had book fairs, they had everything. At West Charlotte we knew that it didn’t take no scientist to tell you that those books that we had were old. In fact, the names of some of them, you’d see Harding High School and Central High School. If you’d gone to summer school we had mimeograph machines and we used to mimeograph most of the stuff for the kids in order that they would be current. Most of the black teachers, if they didn’t have a master’s they were working on it. I couldn’t go to any of the schools in North Carolina, but the state would pay my tuition to go to any school that I wanted to. They would reimburse you. Being reimbursed, you’d get up off your duff and just go to school. That’s why we stayed current with most of the things. We weren’t satisfied. You knew what was taking place at good schools. At Penn State we’d go out to the high school and see all the nice things that those kids had. They were all white. I remember in 1950 when East Mecklenburg was built. I was at West Charlotte, but West Charlotte at that time was down there where Northwest is. It was just a little place. They built East Mecklenburg. It was the first consolidated high school in North Carolina.