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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Smooth integration process in Pitt County

Warren was teaching in Martin County when North Carolina integrated. She remembers comforting a black boy who came to her first-grade class crying, fearful of what might happen to him at an integrated school. Warren comforted him. She remembers that Pitt County residents accepted integration without resistance.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Edith Warren, August 28, 2002. Interview K-0601. 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

Before I ask you about your involvement in the general assembly, let me go back and ask you one little thing about when you became principal. That was 1974. I'm thinking you must have been right on the cusp of integration at that time. Do you remember what the integration process was like?
Yes I do. I was teaching in Martin County when that process of total integration came. There were some, um, tense moments in that this was something new. But children are children, and teaching first-graders, you know, they were all first-graders, eager to learn. I remember one day there was a little black boy in my class, and he came in quite upset. And as we were talking to try to get him settled, feeling comfortable and just relaxing with whatever was going on with him so we could focus on the classroom, and he was crying, and he told me that he was afraid that there was something going to happen to him. I said, "Well, don't you know that Ms. Warren is going to help take care of you, that you are safe here at school?" And he looked at me with the biggest smile, and those teary eyes, and give me a big hug. He knew that he was okay, and that the fact that the color of my skin was different from his did not matter. He knew that he was taken care of. And to me that is the thing, and that is that you teach children where they are so that they can grow; and issues and concerns of people are issues and concerns of people and the community. From Martin County, when we moved to Pitt County, we went through the process with Pitt County also. And there again, you know, people who had the attitude that this is a change that we're going to make, and the transition went quite well, I thought. And children that you greet at the door, you greet to come into your classroom, or to come into the school, to learn, and together you make those things happen. And through the years I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful, wonderful children, and wonderful parents and grandparents. So it has been exciting, some wonderful opportunities.