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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Absence of religion weakens schools

In this brief excerpt, Battle attributes some of Lincoln High School's strength as an institution to its moral character, which grew from religious belief. Battle decries the Supreme Court decision banning prayer in school. Battle and others continued to pray after the ban, but he worries that the moral decline he sees in the contemporary school system is due to the absence of prayer.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. 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

RG: You were just mentioning, Fred, about the fact that you were in school when they had prayer in school, and when prayer in school stopped. Could you expound on that? FB: Oh yes. It appears that once a school, and we had prayer in school, it seemed as though we were closer united together. And I was in school also around ’57 when the Supreme Court made its ruling that you could no longer have prayer in school. And a year or two later, you could start seein’ a moral decline in the school system. And I guess now it has expanded upon the fact that we would always feel safe in school. It would always a safe refuge for the students, the faculty, but now kids don’t feel safe in school. They don’t have that religious experience that’s needed, where we can respect each other. And somehow, somewhere, we got to get back to that. And even though when the Supreme Court announced about prayer in school was prohibited, we still did it, somewhere underlying. We still had it. Because it was manifest in us, as bein’ a living experience. And it was a part of our moral values and our character. And I think this is one of the reasons that we had such a strong institution like Lincoln at that time. RG: Is there anything more that you want to talk about, any subjects that we haven’t covered, or something we’ve covered that you want to revisit and talk some more about? FB: I think the thing, if I can re-emphasize one thing, we’ve always had a strong cultural value at the school. We was always abreast on any kind of changes that were made, and there were blacks have contributed to. We were strong in black culture. And this is something that you don’t find now. You don’t see it now. I know we’re living in an integrated society, but this is one of the things that made Lincoln as great as it was. We had an identity. We knew where we had been, and we had a pretty good idea where we were going.