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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bowman argues that integrated schools provide better preparation for careers and society

Though Bowman has some positive memories of his all-black school, he criticizes current plans to establish Afrocentric schools. He feels these schools do not prepare children for future social settings or for professional examinations.

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, uh I think race relations are probably better here than they are in California.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Really?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
I think so. I have some real concerns about some of the things that I see going on here-the Afrocentric schools, I'm sure you've heard of those. I have some real concerns about that.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
The ones in North Carolina?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
The ones that they want to open up in North Carolina-right-I think it's a step back-it's taking a step backwards-because, we want to have schools for blacks only and I don't see how you can train students that will have to live in a mixed world, train em in all black society then expect them to go out and compete in a mixed world. If they're gonna compete in a mixed world, they should learn in a mixed world and I firmly believe that. And if they're not learning, then find out the reason why and correct it instead of going backwards the way we were.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
I'm glad you said that because I wanted to ask you what you thought about the Charter schools-so are you against Charter schools in general or do you think they should try to make the Charter schools more racially mixed?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Well, I have against a Charter school persay-because I look at Charter schools as being a little like St. Anthony's where I got my primary education. If they're teaching, fine-I'm just not in favor of black schools.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Now, that's interesting, because you went to black schools and they seem to have prepared you very well.
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Yeah, but see you're forgetting-I couldn't get the books out of the library that I wanted. Who knows what might have happened if I could have gotten everything that I wanted. I feel I was hampered to a certain extent.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Okay, you do? Okay
RICHARD BOWMAN:
I feel like I wasted a whole year of my life the first year at Stephens-Lee-nothing against Stephens-Lee, but the people that fed into the system at Stephens-Lee didn't have that problem because they hadn't been taught as much as we had coming from a Catholic school. So, that's my reason for making that statement.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, let me phrase this-this way-So, eventhough you had a positive experience going to a segregated school you still found that there were negatives to that situation and you are in support of integration?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Oh, I'm definitely in support of integration, because you got to compete. You have all of your exams-when you go to Law School you've got to pass the Law exam, written by people who attended-more than likely a white school-your civil service exams are written by people who most likely attended a white school and your nurses exams, your real estate exam, your whole-all of your-the things you have to prove yourself in in real life-are not designed for people who attended an all black school.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, why do you think so many people are criticizing what's gone on with integration-nowadays, and why there seems to be a return to afrocentric schools?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Well, you know Governor Brown put it best-I think-you know, Governor Jerry Brown, Jr. put it best when he made a statement-he said, for every problem there's a simple and wrong solution-and I think that's the case here-It's simple and it's wrong-but, I just can't see why they want to-some of the people who are pushing it just havent' been exposed to as many things as other people have-so, I can see they might want to try it, but I just can't see it.