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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Fran Jackson, March 23, 2001. Interview K-0208. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Older black administrators avoided confrontation while students took Afrocentric stance

Jackson recalls how black administrators distanced themselves from black students during the desegregation process. Unlike the administrators, black students demanded change instead of hoping for it. Jackson suggests students of historically black colleges exposed their school-aged siblings to a greater knowledge of black culture. As a result, black high school students adopted an activist role in elevating black culture and advocating for increased faculty desegregation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Fran Jackson, March 23, 2001. Interview K-0208. 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

CHRISTA BROADNAX:
Let's see. What were your administrators like? Did they accept the integration process or did they make it hard for the African-American students?
FRAN JACKSON:
I think they were-. I think they ranged. But it was either benign neglect where they just kind of ignored us or just out and out silly, ridiculous kinds of things. I think there was definitely a failure to pay attention to the African-American students. And I don't think anybody was courageous enough to step out and say that we need to do something to assure that these students feel more accepted and more comfortable in class. They just said wow let's get these people out of here. And maybe it'll get better with time. And to be honest with you I don't think that it has gotten better with time because if it had then we would not see this wide gap in terms of academic performance. And I don't attribute it all to socioeconomic differences. I think there is still a lot of, I think there is still a lot of racism in the schools and in society.
CHRISTA BROADNAX:
Let's see. Do you remember your siblings talking about their experiences that they were having at school?
FRAN JACKSON:
Well by the time-. Well my sister and I were in high school together for about a year. And then when I left and went to Johnson C. Smith, I know that they had some pretty difficult times. In fact it was when my sisters were in school that they had a little riot at Chapel Hill High. I think my sisters were kind of-. They were a lot more assertive than I. I am sure, I know that they were involved in all of that. And part of the, and definitely their concerns were legitimate. I mean they wanted better representation of black teachers. They wanted African-American history in the schools. And see being at Johnson C. Smith I was exposed to a lot of African-American history and I would tell my sisters about things. We felt again another sense of being deprived because I went to Johnson C. Smith you know it was the first time that I knew what the National Negro Anthem was.