Integration makes black student deeply uncomfortable
Davis is pleased that he got an education at Chapel Hill Junior High School, but he did so despite an environment that could well have prevented learning anything. He worried about treatment from other students, about poverty, and dealt with racism from teachers. He remembers the all-black Northside Elementary, where the atmosphere was the opposite: warm and supportive.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Nate Davis, February 6, 2001. Interview K-0538. 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: Lets move on to, unless there are other memories that you have that you want to share of either Phillips or the experience at Chapel Hill Junior High.
ND: Well you know, I got an education. That’s one good thing that came out of it. I did get an education, and whether it was the best education a black student could have received at that time is debatable. I think it did hurt in a way because you was in an environment that you didn’t want to be in, an environment where you couldn’t really concentrate on what you was doing, concentrate on your work, because you had so many other things that would draw your attention away, whether it was that you didn’t have money to do this, or you were afraid what was going to happen when you went to another class or left school that day or came to school the next day, or whatever. So you did get an education, but you know, there were some stumbling blocks and some things in your way that would not have been in your way if you was at Lincoln, you know.
RG: Did you feel that the teachers at Chapel Hill Junior High or Phillips were giving you a harder curriculum, or it was more difficult at the white school?
ND: See, I can’t compare because I never attended Lincoln.
RG: Well let’s say; Northside.
ND: Northside? Well it was a different environment, you know, you had, at Northside Elementary School you had a closer relationship, you knew the teacher, you felt comfortable. And you know all the students in class, so you had people to work with, people to help you out if you had a problem. And in junior high school it was more like you were on your own, you know. But you know, like I say, and I really hate to start calling names because there was a lot of good teachers, you know Miss Rashkis, Zora Rashkis, and Miss Stanford, really sticks out and there was a history teacher by the name of Mr. Vaughn I think, and you know, people like that.
RG: So it was a mixed bag, was your experience with the teachers in the way of how you could relate to them?
ND: Yeah, like this history teacher, I had her in the seventh grade and I said, God, I done got rid of her when I left Chapel Hill Junior High School and went to Guy B. Phillips, but I got her again out there in eighth grade. And we was in class one day, and this was when President Kennedy was assassinated. And she made a statement, she said ‘I bet some niggra did it,’ you know, right in class. And um, she sure did, she said ‘I bet some niggra did it.” And everybody, you know, sitting up in class, and you know.