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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 >>

Negative effects of interracial teacher-student interactions during desegregation

Regester describes the tangible and intangible effects school desegregation had on black students. Unlike black teachers, she argues that white teachers ignored black students and developed low student expectations. As a result, black students internalized the negative image and began to misbehave.

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

SUSAN UPTON:
Whenever you went to Chapel Hill High, were there problems there as far as integration
CHARLENE REGESTER:
I can tell you, when I got to junior high school there were major problems and I was very politically active and those problems really subsided, but never went away. Even when I made the transition to high school. And I felt that those problems stemmed from the fact that white teachers did not reach out to black students, did not embrace black students and really did not make a concerted effort to try to embrace them, to make them feel a part of the environment there. And that's not all of them, don't get me wrong because there were some who were very instrumental in helping me but there were many who didn't reach out. And so because of that I think many black kids internalize that and so they begin to misbehave. They begin to not take their work or their education seriously and so a lot of problems began to develop as a result of how they were being treated. Not because they didn't have the mental aptitude or the ability to perform well. And so I think there was always some tension. I remember when I was in junior high, we had several sit-ins and protests in part because they didn't have a curriculum that attempted to address black history in any way, and so we wanted to have that incorporated in some level. And I do remember that being a central part of one of our protests and many activities were not geared to embrace the black kids and certainly by the time I went to Chapel Hill High School, those same division continued to exist and to persist. Black kids were encouraged to go to technical school as opposed to pursuing an institution of higher learning such as a university. They were not often times encouraged to take the advanced placement courses and it just seemed very systematic in terms of how they were um...their progress was halted or limited in a lot of different ways. And I will tell you that when I left there, high school, I was so frustrated I did not march in high school. I did not go back to pick up my diploma and I told them they could send it to me in the mail. Because I found it so frustrating and so alienating. And I was very much involved in terms that I was a strong student, but the atmosphere was not conducive to learning. You were constantly on the offensive. Having to fight for this, having to fight for that, and so I was not happy at all about even saying I was from Chapel Hill High.