Good and bad effects of desegregation
Freeman shares his belief that desegregation had both good and bad effects. He has seen the equalization of opportunity, but also the erosion of black institutions. Freeman's thoughts, couched in qualifiers, speak not only to the delicacy of the issue but also the complex response to desegregation of the black community.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Johnny A. Freeman, December 27, 1990. Interview M-0011. 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
Well, how do you think the desegregation schools
affected your role as a principal?
- JOHNNY A. FREEMAN:
I don't think it affected my role any differently as
principal. I just looked at it as another opportunity to try to educate
boys and girls. But as far as having a direct effect on them, I
don't know that it did. I would say that I think that in some
situations we have profited tremendously by it and I think in other
situations we may have been hurt by desegregation. Let me clarify that.
It is disturbing to me to see the powerful band that I had as
principal of an all Black high school and ended up
with a band now with just a handful of Black students. That disturbs me.
And of course, I realize, and I have to be honest and say this, it has
to do with the late issue of the person that has done it. And I
don't understand that however, I think that the parents are
going to have to be concerned to ask the question why rather than wait
for somebody to fix it for them because it is not easy to be fixed but I
think if parents are inquisitive enough to ask the question why then
some of the things can fix themselves. So that is what I mean when I say
I think it is a good thing that has happened because there is no
question in my mind as to who will suffer but they were not equal. They
were separate but they were not equal. I think now that the schools are
equal in that sense as far the opportunity being available. They are
unequal in the kids being made aware and made to feel, I'll
put it that way, that they are an important part of this operation, and
I have to clarify this too because that is an exception, because some
kids in the community that are for separating and there are others and I
think that is where the leadership comes in where we have tried to set
the climate for getting the right focus.
- GOLDIE F. WELLS:
So the teachers are still the key. When you are all Black, I have the
philosophy that it is so bad because the Black teachers could push the
Black children and say things to them and push them along but you just
think the good teachers would do that no matter what.
- JOHNNY A. FREEMAN:
Let's face it, when we were all Black you could call assembly
and say to the kids basically what needed to be said to give them a shot
of adrenaline but you can't do that now and the only
institution that we have left right now and I hate to say this but they
have fallen tremendously and that is the Black church. They just are not
living up to what I think they ought to be doing. That is the only place
that we can speak to the issue.