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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White parents worry about integration

Ray believes that humor was an important tactic used to ease white parents' fears about integration. She believes that children are better able to deal with social transitions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. 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

PAMELA GRUNDY:
Well, I guess when you say that he knew, this guidance counselor knew how to ease white parents into West Charlotte, what needed to be done to keep these white parents happy?
MAGGIE W. RAY:
Well, I think humor was a great thing, and someone from over there saying, "It's going to be fine. Your fears are unfounded; it's a safe neighborhood, I live there." Joe Champion could say, "And I'm safe and your children are going to be all right." Not everybody believed that, and of course, it wasn't totally true in any high school at that time. I mean, you just wouldn't stay by yourself at a high school, or anywhere in town. So some of the fears were justified, but he helped and I guess that's the main thing. I'm trying to remember if they had tours and stuff, seems like that did all sorts of things to make the transition easy.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
You mean in some ways it might have been more difficult for the parents than the students to deal with?
MAGGIE W. RAY:
Good question. The years when black and white students were in the classroom together for the first time I was raising little babies, and so I wasn't on site then. When I came back in the mid '70s that pretty much was over, so I can't really address that question. I do think that with the little children, it's always much easier, they're unselfconscious. A friend of mine told me that her little five-year-old got off the bus and she said, "How was your first day at school?" And she says, "Oh, I sat next to a brown girl." So this is the innocence, and in junior high anybody that's different has a problem. Somebody with a zit [Laughter] has a problem, so it gets harder, I think.