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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Willa V. Robinson, January 14, 2004. Interview U-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White flight from integrating schools

This excerpt touches on two subjects: resource inequality and the white response to desegregation efforts. First, the resource inequality between white and black schools did not bother Robinson much as a student, she recalls. Second, Robinson remembers that when integration loomed, white parents started raising money to send their children to private schools. By the time integration happened, few white children remained to join black and Native American students in integrated schools.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Willa V. Robinson, January 14, 2004. Interview U-0014. 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

MM: Yeah. Was it all black teachers at the school when your kids were going there? WR: Yeah, and the principal, too. MM: Um-hum. Did you find yourself looking around and saying, “Well, we don’t have such and such that the white school has, or this other thing that the white school has?” Or was that not even really an issue? WR: I heard the teachers talking about the different things that we did not have, but if it was the children we just made do with what we had. We didn’t get to visit the other schools to make a comparison. [BOTH LAUGH.] WR: But the teachers did because they’d have the teacher’s meeting, or whatever. They’d have to go over there for one reason or another, and they would see what was going on, but we, as children, we didn’t see that. MM: In the 1960s it sounds like white parents were organizing against integration. WR: They were. MM: What were black parents doing or thinking about as all these issues came up? WR: Praying a lot. [BOTH LAUGH.] WR: Because first of all, in the town of Maxton what they started doing automatically even before the integration got there was some of them didn’t have cash money. They were selling parts of their land and properties to get cash money to send their child to a private school. MM: These are white parents? WR: And them that had money automatically started investigating the nearest private school they could send their child to. So by the time that schools was really integrated and they started going to school together, the only people mostly at school was Indian and black. They had done weeded their children out beforehand. You might find one, two, or maybe three white kids in the elementary school. But by the time they got to middle school or high school they was in a private school. They was not in the public schools any longer.