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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Charlene Regester, February 23, 2001. Interview K-0216. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Failures of integration

Regester recalls blacks' support for school integration as a means of resource equalization. However, she reveals the ironies of integration. While blacks and whites were physically housed in one school, the social isolation and social attitudes about blacks failed to place black students on an equal footing with whites.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Charlene Regester, February 23, 2001. Interview K-0216. 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

CHARLENE REGESTER:
I do remember this: and I can attest to this when someone interviewed my sister regarding her experience with integration. At that time, many African Americans saw it as a mechanism utilized to sort of level the playing field and for blacks to have access that they had long been denied in these all black schools. So many parents and community leaders and members of the community were very much in support of integration because they thought that blacks would have access to educational opportunities that they were not having access to in these segregated schools so I do remember everybody was very much for integration , they were pushing integration and many African Americans felt that their children would have a better quality education because they would be getting the same quality education that had been offered to white students at the time.
SUSAN UPTON:
Do you remember, like did many of you activities get to change once you got to the white school. Did things get to change, did more activities open up to you than before.?
CHARLENE REGESTER:
I wouldn't say that there were many more activities. I, you know, it's really hard to say that the education was necessarily any better. So for me to make that kind of assessment is difficult. Also it's been a long time ago, so for me to try to make that kind of assessment is difficult. But I do vaguely remember that you assume that if you are going to a black school that the resources might have been inadequate, but in spite of the inadequacy of those resources the teachers were also very good and they maximized their potential with the meager resources that they had. So even though you might have been thrust into an arena where you had more resources, that didn't necessarily mean that you were getting more attention , more support, more encouragement, that kind of thing. So it's hard to weigh whether or not one was necessarily better than the other. But perhaps the thing that just stands out in my mind is the isolation and the alienation and the sort of sentiment that if you were black that you somehow can't learn and we could always learn. That was never the issue. But certainly when you are thrust into this environment, either that atmosphere is created, or you internalize that because you do feel different on the basis of race. So I'm not sure what it was.