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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Sam Holton, March 28, 2001. Interview K-0206. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

School board's efforts to be more inclusive of student populations

Holton recalls the school board's efforts to include the poor and blacks into curricular decisions. He argues that successful integration required parental complicity. Holton also assumes that black males had a hard time reconciling black pride with school integration, which manifested in violent behavior.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Sam Holton, March 28, 2001. Interview K-0206. 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

SAM HOUSTON:
My recollections are not very clear on that. Basically, the concern we have had throughout is to avoid neglecting the lower socio-economic groups, not just the blacks. Though blacks made up most of it in Chapel Hill. But, in the fact of a university community and a strong emphasis on college preparation, as to be sure we had programs enough to take care of people that weren't going on to college. When we developed the Chapel Hill High School program for the new campus, we had a strong vocational program in areas like horticulture, and pre-nursing, and things of that sort, that I think were-well auto-mechanics. The, when they combined the faculties, the faculties from Lincoln, and the faculties from Chapel Hill worked very well together and several of the black teachers were recognized as very strong. R.D. Smith was the man that usually dealt with the auto-mechanics program and other vocational programs of that sort. Mrs. Ruth Polk was a very outstanding home economics teacher. And, went out of her way to set up programs for black males to develop skills that could be translated to work in restaurants, and cooks, and things of that sort. The-. Mr. Smith was the assistant principal of the combined schools, and I'm sure was very helpful in relating to any problems we had with the black students, largely with the black males. The males seem to have more problems in high school than the females anyway. Or their problems are more likely to be acted out.
JENNY MATTHEWS:
That's probably what it is.
SAM HOUSTON:
So, that's a recollection. We probably had more of that sort of problem than the same student population had at Lincoln. That is black males getting in trouble with school regulations and that sort of thing. And I assume that represents some dissonance between the idea of black pride and the idea of desegregation, and the effort to integrate. But otherwise, I'm not sure there was any other serious problem. The-. I'm sure the questions were always raised about achievement gaps and differences in expectations. Though I doubt those differences were as great as some of the white parents thought they were. You have to remember, you are not just desegregating, integrating the school, you are also integrating the parental view of the world.