Busing as a necessary evil
Davis thinks integration came first to West Charlotte because West Charlotte was "number one," a testing ground for new ideas. Davis takes this opportunity to share her views on busing, a practice which she thinks targets black children. She is deeply ambivalent about busing—frustrated that children must bear the brunt of the need to integrate, dissatisfied with the inconvenience of the practice, but committed to the idea of equal education.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Saundra Davis, May 12, 1998. Interview K-0278. 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
PG: So you were mentioning, when you were talking about the two sides of the road, the beginnings of school integration, and I guess in the earlier years of it when the first white kids started to come to West Charlotte, that was a pretty turbulent time. A lot of things went on.
SD: Yes. A lot of things went on, but normally West Charlotte was really quiet. I think West Charlotte was more like a model school for everybody else. Any time something would happen that they needed to try something out, they would try it at West Charlotte. West Charlotte is number one. We always make things go smooth. It seems like we had the personnel to do it. I wasn’t there when the integration started, but my children came into it when they were in elementary school. My baby girl, Angela, had to go to Rama Road, and that’s way, way on the other side of town. She was bussed all the way over there. We’ve just been fortunate, blessed, lucky because in the end they got to go to school right across the street. They came right back home. They had to be bussed a few years, but you put up with that.
PG: What did you think about that when it first began to start and when you were faced with having to send your children away? What was your feeling about that?
SD: I’m going to tell you right now. I’m frank. I’m honest. I’m blunt. I’m going to tell you what’s on my mind. I didn’t want my children to have to be bussed out of the neighborhood. I really didn’t. But if that meant my children getting a better education, yes. Let them be bussed. Somebody had to do it. The ice had to be broken somewhere. For the simple reason the white schools have had the better things. When they finished with them they passed them to our kids. I know my children are just as good as anybody’s children. Not only my children, every child in the world should be treated equal, because they’re taking our tax money just like they’re taking everybody else’s tax money to do these things with, so why make our children suffer? They’ve suffered enough all the years of their life. No, I didn’t want my children to be bussed, but I didn’t let them know that that was the way I felt because if I had let them know what I felt they wouldn’t have learned as much as they could have. I always instilled in them, go to school, learn everything you can, and do the best you can. I felt good about them going, the computers and everything. They enjoyed it, too. It wasn’t the hand-me-downs. They got it first hand.
PG: Do you think that made a big difference?
SD: I think so. But the only thing that bothered me, and still bothers me, our children, the black children as a whole, they are bussed, and bussed, and bussed. But in the white neighborhoods they do all they can to keep their children there. I don’t care how they try to break it down or what they do. I can see it. Nobody is crazy. But if it’s taking the bussing to get our kids where they should be, fine. But you have to think about it, too. How can a child get up at five o’clock in the morning, catch the bus, got to be at school at seven or seven-thirty, how in the world can they learn what they should be learning because they’re are not getting enough rest? They are not. And that’s sad. And everybody’s saying they want to go back to the neighborhood school. I know they do. It would please me nothing more in the world than for our kids to go back to the neighborhood school, but by God, make sure that everything that is in one school is in all schools. Even if you go back to the neighborhood schools, it’s still going to be integrated some. It may not be at a seventy/thirty basis, it’s going to be integrated some because people are moving everywhere all around now. But, I don’t trust the people. I don’t.