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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 >>

Hope and hard work can help black students overcome social injustice

Rogers argues that black students should use negative social situations and material disparities to propel, rather than defeat, them. She insists that hope and hard work can overcome social inequalities.

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

CAROLYN ROGERS:
...I get on my soapbox about people saying they live in… Kids will say, "I live in the projects." I say, "What does that mean?" Because I had one little girl at Davis Drive to tell me that. She says, "I live in the projects, what do you expect?" She had been acting out that day, "What do you expect." I said, "What does that mean, you live in a project? You live in an apartment. Your apartment complex put out here in the Cary area would be called an apartment, an apartment complex and not a project. So what is it that you're living up to?" She says, "Oh, well I never thought about it like that." I said, "The project was just a term used by the Federal Government. It is a project for them to give you housing, affordable housing. It is a project just like you do projects for me. You do projects for your other classes. You do projects. That doesn't mean it should have an affect on your behavior unless it is in a positive one. If it is a positive affect that's fine but not negative. Don't let people tell you what you're home life is like. You think about it. Most of us blacks came from conditions that were not necessarily conducive, but we use that as our impedance to do better things, greater things. It's a project for me to go to school. It was a project for me to go back to college as an older woman to get my degree to be an administrator. That was a project." "Oh, well I never thought of it like that." I said, "Well, let's change the thinking." So it does make a difference. When you drive from, let's say Walnut Terrace which is a "project" in south Raleigh and they pass all of those beautiful homes on their way to the Cary schools, would I get an attitude? I'm sitting in class with this little kid who has no idea what I like, what it's like at my home. They have no idea what it sounds, like, the gunshots or seeing people standing on the street corner shooting up. They have no idea. Now I'm going to go in the classroom and compete with these kids? And then all the test scores are going to tell me that I'm not smart and not as smart. That's a hurdle. That's a big hill that you have to just chip away at constantly to let people know, I do have a brain, I can learn. My living conditions don't necessarily have anything to do with who I become. I can aspire to be anything I want to be. All I have to do is have the work ethics. And that's all I tell me kids, just have the work ethics. If you've got the work ethics and you have a dream, there is nothing that can stop you, nothing and nobody. I'll get off my soapbox now.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
That was a wonderful soapbox.