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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Madge Hopkins, October 17, 2000. Interview K-0481. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ill effects of desegregation on black students

Hopkins worries that expectations have declined for African American students. She sees West Charlotte, which is three-quarters African American, as a segregated school, separate and unequal. She tries to remedy the effects of that inequality by instilling in her students a determination to succeed.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Madge Hopkins, October 17, 2000. Interview K-0481. 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

PAMELA GRUNDY:
Well, I'm curious just from your year and a half here how you see, things that you see at West Charlotte that are similar to things you remember from when you were here and things that you see that are different.
MADGE HOPKINS:
Things that I see that are similar: adolescents are still adolescents, they still act the same way. What I see different is the culture of the school. There has been an erosion of expectations. There is not the pride in terms of living the pride; we talk it. And I have a saying that maybe is not very favorable that these children come here and they see it as one big West Fest; this is not a festival, this is school and we have got to change the culture and how children think about school. It doesn't matter where they come from, it doesn't matter what their experiences are, I have got to believe that it can happen. Separate is not equal and we have become a separate school. We are all, seventy-five percent or more African American. We are a separate school.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
Hm-hm. And not equal?
MADGE HOPKINS:
And we are not equal. We were separate and we were not equal when I was here; I didn't know it and I'm glad they didn't tell me that I wasn't as good as anybody. Yes, I'm as good and you're doing just as well and the education you're getting is just as good as those kids at Myers Park. But it wasn't equal. And that's it. It's the same, you're separate and you're not equal. Adolescents are the same. The difference is the culture, the real commitment in believing that you can fly, you can do anything you want to.