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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joseph Califano, April 5, 1991. Interview L-0125. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Rationalizing North Carolina's resistance to HEW criteria for desegregation

Califano describes the Department for Health, Education, and Welfare's (HEW) criteria for promoting the desegregation of higher education. He admits his surprise that North Carolina failed to embody its progressive public image. However, Califano reasons that the large number of black colleges increased North Carolina's resistance to desegregation.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Joseph Califano, April 5, 1991. Interview L-0125. 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

WILLIAM LINK:
Let me back up a little bit and ask you about the early development of the desegregation case, with regard to North Carolina. In the spring of 1977 the case was thrust to your attention, I guess, because of the order of Judge Pratt.
JOSEPH CALIFANO:
Right.
WILLIAM LINK:
Which required that your department do something and develop a set of criteria in the spring of '77. And thatߞthe chronology of that, I gather, is somewhere between April and July, the criteria were developed. I wondering, as best as you can recollect, I know this has been fourteen years, what do you remember as being the main considerations and objectives, insofar as you had contact with the criteria. I know you ߞ
JOSEPH CALIFANO:
And reallyߞlet me just preface everything I say that if the documents show something different, go by the documents.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah.
JOSEPH CALIFANO:
And not by my memory. The objective was to promote the desegregation of higher education. The techniques, as I recall, were to, you know, have courses in white colleges that were not in black colleges, and vice-versa, among other things. We expected, as a general matter, that North Carolina would have been, since Friday was regarded as a progressiveߞone of the most progressive southern educators, that North Carolina would have been one of the first states to agree. As it turned out they were the last to come to terms with desegregation. I guess what we did not account for was the number of black colleges in North Carolina, which I guess created a serious problem for Bill Friday.
WILLIAM LINK:
Made it a more complex problem, you think, from his point of view? Or your point of view also.
JOSEPH CALIFANO:
I don't know whetherߞLook, I know one thing, in my years at HEW, that when we tried to desegregate or enforce civil rights laws for women, for the disabled, for hispanics, we had virtually no resistance. When we tried to enforce the civil rights laws for blacks, we had resistance everywhere.
WILLIAM LINK:
That was true all along ߞ
JOSEPH CALIFANO:
North Carolina was no exception. That was true north, south, east, and west. But, in this case, North Carolina was by far the most resistant of the southern states. I think it was numbers. I think there was just larger numbers of blacks. Larger numbers of black universities. And that's why the resistance was larger. But you'd have to ask them. I can't judge their motives.