Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

School integration process took longer than Bowman expected

When the Supreme Court made the <cite>Brown</cite> decision, Mr. Bowman assumed that integration would happen within the year. He was troubled to see how many years the integration process took and how many black schools were forced to close in the process.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. 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

RICHARD BOWMAN:
Well, not-it was just starting because most of the things happened after I was in service-see, I was in the service-Eisenhower became president while I was in the service and that's when they integrated-well, Truman integrated the Armed Services before then-right before then. But, most of the civil rights movement started- I think after 1955.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
But, what I'm thinking about particularly is the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling in 1954 and then the Montgomery Bus Boycott and surely you heard of what was going on?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Right, we heard what was going on and when they had Brown vs Board of Education, I wasn't aware about all of the court-the time it takes something to go through the courts. I thought once the Supreme Court ruled [in favor of] Brown of Education, the next September everything was going to be integrated. And I was saying, gee I can see it now, they're going to have whites going to the high school where I attended and blacks going to the other school and whatnot, but never dreamed it would take this many years as it did before it finally-they still have some schools under mandate for busing for integrating and whatnot.[the rest of this sentence is unclear]
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, you thought that whites would come into Stephens-Lee and some blacks would go to the white high school?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Right, I never even thought of tearing down Stephens-Lee. Yeah, cause you have all of the black teachers and you have the same number of students you have to teach-I just didn't see them doing it any other way.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
How did if feel when you found out that they were going to close down Stephens-Lee in 1965?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
I was very concerned-very concerned. And of course, I wasn't here. I was in California when I found out they were gonna close it down. And I just wondered why? Because they had closed down the other schools. They had closed down Livingston Street, that's the elementary school, and Hill Street school, the other elementary school they had closed down. In fact, most of the schools that they closed were black schools.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Uh huh-throughout the state of North Carolina.
RICHARD BOWMAN:
More than likely, if you look into it the same will probably hold true in other states.