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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carl A. Mills Jr., June 30, 1999. Interview K-0182. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

After desegregation, students and teachers settle into racially-dictated roles

Outsiders had trouble understanding the way Cary's schools worked, Mills recalls. When government inspectors came in from Washington to make sure Mills's school was meeting desegregation standards, he gave them an education. According to Mills, a black physics teacher was teaching an all-white class because black students did not want to learn, white students were separated to abide by the law, and black students clustered in a bricklaying course because "they seemed to go for the trade." He seems to be describing resegregation and defending it against scrutiny.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carl A. Mills Jr., June 30, 1999. Interview K-0182. 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

For example, the most involvement I got except working with teachers and principals and what-have-you, some of it had to be translated back to the local level or it didn't work. I could translate it. With our plan for integration, there were people who would come in from Washington, and I don't know why but they'd always send four or five blacks to examine our program. The first time they came in to meet with Fussell, he called the assistants in and said we had visitors today and they want to see our system. They thought they were going to see 840 laws of Wake County in just an hour or two. We didn't get through half of it in a day's time. Well, I had to be the smart-alec when they said they want to see what you got going on, I said you want to see what Boston has? "Oh no sir, we don't want Boston." Because I knew Cary had more black principals than the city of Boston had. But anyhow, among our visits we found that Garner made a note of a black physics teacher with all white kids and they wanted to know why. Well, let's talk to the instructor and see what he's got to say about it. The black students just don't want to learn. He preferred to have students that wanted to learn physics. One stop was out here at the edge of Fuquay and Apex. They went to a school there and again they had an awful lot to say. They called a time out, we need a conference. Why is there only one white kid in this third grade class. If you'd ask me I could tell you. Let's go across the hall and look at the other third grade. There were two white kids there. I said, this is a crime. But that's what our program said we would do. Those three kids ought to be in the same class, but it would be in violation. So they smiled and said, let's go onto the next thing. They found in one case a white bricklayer instructor in Wake Forest and all black students in bricklaying. They said we just hadn't forced the whites to go in there and the blacks seemed to go for the trade. They wanted to learn to lay brick. They even inspected our buses, counted the blacks and whites and we just had the best time with H.E.W.