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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Carolyn Rogers, May 22, 2003. Interview K-0656. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Positive social aftermath of school desegregation

In the post-desegregation era, Rogers argues that non-racial social factors affect students' test scores. Non-school related pressures on students are discussed later in the interview. Rogers assesses integration as a positive movement which increased the cooperation among blacks, whites, and other ethnicities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Carolyn Rogers, May 22, 2003. Interview K-0656. 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

PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, pretty pictures. Aren't they sweet. What did you see happening as black students were coming in to integrated schools and how did things change over time? What did they go through in the beginning and then how did that change?
CAROLYN ROGERS:
That's something that still touches me to this day. Because you have so few black students in a classroom and now that black kids are coming up with white students, there's no big deal. Okay. But then it was a big deal. You have one black student in a class of thirty white students. That child is all alone. There's no one who looks like him and you have three black teachers on staff so that black child is probably not going to encounter either one of those three black teachers all day long. So that child is like, in a sea all by himself or herself. Especially if you're not comfortable in that environment, you can't learn. There are too many other things going through your mind. It's virtually impossible to learn. You're not in a comfortable environment. You're not in a conducive environment good for learning, let's put it that way. So their test scores reflected that. But how are those test scores interpreted by other people, as black kids are inferior learners. Not true. If you put yourself in the same environment, if you are a white student in a class of thirty black kids, are you going to learn? No. It's impossible. But now that the kids are growing up together, like my younger sister who was born in Cary. She started kindergarten with white students, so there's no big deal to her. That's all she knows. If she's the only black person in a group of whites, it doesn't bother her at all because she's so comfortable in that. I'm comfortable in that because I grew to become comfortable in that. My career took me in that direction where I would be the only black person in most gatherings, so I had to learn to be comfortable in that situation. Believe me that's work, especially when the environment is not welcoming. There's a pretend welcoming, but it's not really welcoming. So I'm very comfortable if I'm in a group of whites or in a diverse society it doesn't bother me at all. My younger sister, it's an expectation so she's very comfortable in that. She now knows, and this is one thing that I tell teachers now too and that is, don't look at a black student and automatically decide that that student's learning is inferior. You need to be careful that you don't do that. Don't make that an automatic assumption. Today kids can learn but then there are so many other things that are interfering with their learning, not necessarily because they're black or that they are maybe two black students in a class now of all white students. That's not really the issue anymore, it's everything else that goes with it. I may be coming from a single-parent home. I live thirty miles from here and it takes me forty-five minutes to get to school on the bus. Those kinds of things contribute to their learning now. Whereas when, before when I started teaching in the Cary schools, and I say the Cary schools because I always felt like the Cary schools are an entity all by themselves, when I first started teaching there kids did not feel comfortable, because as I said, you will have one student among thirty other students. Now that we have an influx of other races it makes things a lot easier for black kids to deal with because now you're talking about Hispanics, Latinos, you're talking about kids from Czechoslovakia. And all of these different names, like your last name, that was just not here when I moved to Cary, it just wasn't. Of if it was, I didn't come in contact with them. You see what I'm saying. So times have really changed, and I think for the better. I think the more kids live in neighborhoods with each other, things are so different and they're so easy because you don't know anything different. My little sister knows nothing else but this lifestyle. Of course she had an easier time because my parents were doing much better now and when she came along than when I came along. They were dirt farmers. She doesn't know the same lifestyle that I knew.