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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with John Jessup, January 11, 1991. Interview M-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Black teachers and students lost a lot when schools desegregated

The material losses brought by desegregation trickled down to black teachers and students. The students were excluded from predominately white extracurricular activities, and the teachers were downgraded to lower-level job positions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with John Jessup, January 11, 1991. Interview M-0024. 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

How did desegregation of schools affect your role as a principal?
Desegregation has not taken place since I became principal.
No, it hasn't taken place since you became principal. Do you think this goal desegregation of schools has affected your role.
Oh, the principalship role. Well, one thing for sure you don't have as many Black principals. That is for sure. Therefore, Black administrators on the high school level do not have the influence, the contact, the networking, young people do not have the role models. All those are factors that they've lost and that description is representative of basically every other category in teaching positions, student positions, all the way down the line. It is interesting. When I was in Hickory I was asked to speak to an all White group. I was the only Black there. They asked me to speak on the advantages or disadvantages of desegregation. And I wrote my speech and when I got there and looked around and I was the only Black one there. I said to myself maybe I ought to change my speech.
Did you have enough courage to go on and deliver?
I went ahead and delivered but it was work. Now just think about some of the things that you're about that one problem with desegregation that came was the fact that for some reason Black cheerleaders could not cheer loud enough to be a part of the cheerleading squad. And students who used to be good in the band can no longer play well enough to be part of the band and only the exceptional athlete can play on the football team. Principals, people who were principals, became directors of federal programs and teachers who were hired on the high school level became elementary teachers. Of course, I ended by saying that there is still room, there's hope, better use of funds, better use of facilities all these things we have going for us.