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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clyde Smith, March 17, 1999. Interview K-0443. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Presence of African Americans grows at a formerly segregated school

Smith recalls the growing presence of African Americans at Lincolnton High School. Black parents became more active in clubs, and some African Americans eventually took jobs on staff, a development Smith supported because they provided "a familiar face." Black teachers were more difficult to find, he recalls.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clyde Smith, March 17, 1999. Interview K-0443. 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

As a teacher and as a coach, what did you sense was the black parent involvement in the schools? Did parents get involved in parent/teacher organizations?
Yes, we started to get more. The second or third year I was there, a black lady was very involved in our sports booster club. They tended to get involved in the sports booster club. And some of these black parents were connected to the school system, working in the cafeteria or something like that. In fact, I think the superintendent began to recruit. I know, looking at the picture of this boy right here that his mama worked uptown in one of the restaurants. Well, the superintendent began to recruit blacks because we didn't have many on staff. It was hard to find teachers, but it was good to put them wherever they could. Give them a familiar face in the cafeteria. They tried to find teachers, but it's even tougher today than it was then.
You mentioned that there were black faculty but not coaches. Did these teachers come over from Newbold or were they there before the first black students arrived? Did they come with freedom of choice?
To tell you the truth, I think we only had one black person. And he was here when I got here, but I think he came over with freedom of choice. He was Oliver Patterson. He's dead now, died a few years ago. He was a social studies teacher, lived in Charlotte. I think he had some ties here with Lincoln County growing up, and maybe with freedom of choice he came. I think that's really the only black certified staff person we had when I came, in fact I know it is. It was a number of years before we were able to secure someone else. He was the cosponsor, along with Coach Harris, of the Human Relations Council that was put together by the students.