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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Miller, January 19, 1991. Interview M-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Miller discusses the loss of job status brought with desegregation

Miller illuminates the differences between the predominately black local high school and the integrated local high school. At the black high school, Miller relied on the cooperation of the black community and black students to sustain the running of the school. As a result, Miller played a large and more powerful role as principal. At the white high school, however, Miller had less prestige because the school had specialized departments.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Miller, January 19, 1991. Interview M-0015. 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

No, I know it didn't. What about cafeteria management?
Except for the three years that I was at Green Bunker from 1961-64, I had to run the cafeteria then myself. I had to raise the funds, hire the workers, buy the food, buy the pots and pans. They furnished the utilities. That was something that I had never faced before because always before it had been done central-wise. That was an experience and you will find that 40%-50% of your children are on welfare. They are farming and this time of year they don't have any money. So you have to learn to cope. The first thing that you have to do is you have to make sure that you have a person who understands cafeteria cooking, bulk cooking. Just because someone has cooked in a person's house you don't need them. I had that problem. The lady would cook some of the best pinto beans or the best cabbage and have all that fatback floating in it. I couldn't afford that. She was cooking as you would in a house. She didn't understand the cards. So I had to get someone who understood the bulk cooking, cooking by the hundred and that is important. With that problem I had to do a whole lot of finagling like getting one of the farmers when they got ready to sell their corn and buying 20-50 dozen, a man getting ready to sell his chickens had the children to bring in chicken food and buy all the hens, roosters and everything. Then the next day kill them and put them in the freezer. Then you don't pass out fried chicken you see. It doesn't take it long to get gone. You have to use that chicken with something else. There were a lot of ways you had to learn to do. But, when you got to Price High School I didn't have to worry about it with my operation. I just had to deal with the personnel and the discipline and if you got a good manager you didn't take an individual problem in the cafeteria to the individual. You took it to the manager. If you do that you intercept the manager. You should first take your problems to the manager and the same way within the school to this chairman unless it is a personal problem with the teacher. But you take it to the manager and let the manager attempt to settle it. Then if they can't, then you have a trial where the three of you come in. But always in the end the buck stops with me.
Buildings and grounds.
They say, "That George Miller is a principal and is a teacher--not to godliness he was noted for being next to cleanliness." I had a school, an elementary school where I had a spy in where I would give anybody $5 if they found five pieces of paper, I don't care how small, on the floor in the hall. You must do this. You must understand all aspects of the school. You have to know maintenance, boiler room, you have to know all of it. I went from the city system where you had one type of plumbing out to the rural system where you had a sump pump so you had to learn it and back to the city system. So that means a different thing. Next how do you maintain cleanliness? You maintain cleanliness by making it everybody's responsibility. You should know how many rooms the janitor can sweep per hour but if the teacher lets the children leave their books and all the paper inside the desk and every time the janitor moves the desk they fall off it is going to more than double his amount of time. So you have got to tell them what to do. I would rather that they take all of the books out, empty all of the trash on the floor. You can sweep that up. If the janitor has to close every window and adjust every blind after he gets through sweeping, he has a problem. It's going to take him longer. Therefore he might wind up not being able to dust. Next thing we should know how much a person can do, this individual can do, not all individuals. He may can do twice as much as you can in the same period of time. Understand? When I went to Green Bunker I had two older people, an old man and an old woman so they worked at a different pace. Therefore, you employ the students and do it. Then they had been trying to get through with their job so they could ride the bus back home. Whereas at Price High and these other schools I had other janitorial help, Edward Strange. Then if you see them doing something wrong, you have to have some training sessions on how to do certain things. Therefore, I have spent many times even going to A & T College and to various other school systems lecturing on maintenance and cleanliness and how to get things done. Using ESSA, CETA workers have to use that. Most janitors when they get extra work like that do not know how to supervise them. So you have to teach your head janitor to be a supervisor and a lot of his workers have got to have it. They don't know how to work and they don't know how to supervise. They don't know what to do when a child sits around and goofs off. Therefore, you have to establish that in the beginning.