Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Orientation discriminates against black students

In this excerpt, Jeter recalls attending orientation before attending Chapel Hill High School. There she and fellow black students were cautioned to wash their teeth and brush their hair before coming to school. To Jeter, it was clear that white students received a more useful orientation. As a result of this racially-tinged orientation, she and other black students felt out of place before the first day of school.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. 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

GRJ: Oh yes, I remember distinctly because I had to miss vacation with my Aunt and Uncle. We went down to the old Chapel Hill High School and met with a teacher, it may have been more than one, but we met with at least one adult who told us, wash your face before you come to school, brush your teeth. Now I'm 12 years old and I know how to wash my face and brush my teeth, how to use a knife and fork. It's not as though we were monkeys from the zoo, but that is how we were treated. And I was angry. That ticked me off, I mean because I had to miss my vacation for, and the unique thing was, there were no white students there, it was only the black students that were going to Guy B. Phillips that had to be there, and they were telling us as if we did not know to wash our face and comb our hair. BG: So to your knowledge was there any orientation given to the white students at the school about how to deal with the integration process. GRJ: No, not to my knowledge, I never remember anyone saying, Oh I had to go through that dumb orientation. We definitely did not go through it together. BG: What were some of the other tings that were discussed at orientation. GRJ: I don't, I do remember those, I may have tuned out after that, but I really don't remember. BG: Did they discuss integration? GRJ: They didn't need to. They took these 3 or 4 black people, young people, and said "you are special, because you are goin to integrate this school, and we know that you don't know anything about anything and so we're going to tell you to get up every morning and brush your teeth and comb your hair." I don't know what they were telling the white kids. But I thought that was terrible, I really though that was terrible, because it showed no sensitivity to who you are. I mean, if you showed up and your face wasn't washed then, yes, okay, we need to tell this person to wash their face, but if you showed up neat and clean, they didn’t' need to tell, they didn't need to go there. So they made us feel unique even before we got to the school, I mean they didn’t have to do that, you know if you're a black person and you walk into a room that you're going to stand out, they don’t need to tell us that. It's almost as if they want to tell us you're not good enough, to make you feel bad before you even go into the situation. BG: And were there just three of you there? GRJ: There may have been five of us.