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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 >>

Whites burn down black school

Robinson remembers the arson that destroyed a black school in Maxton and speculates that the culprits were kids who learned racism from their parents and chose to apply their new ideas in a destructive fashion. She reflects briefly on parents' influence on the racial beliefs of their children.

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: I must ask because I read a newspaper article the other day about Red Springs. There was a fight. I think it was 1969 or 68 maybe, a fight between black and white boys, and some window smashing, and things like that. It seemed pretty isolated. WR: Yeah. There wasn’t a lot of fighting and tearing up things. The major thing that happened in Maxton, they just burned the school down, and nobody ever figured out why. [BOTH LAUGH.] MM: Well, right. When you put it that way it’s like, “What on earth?” But when people’s passions are aroused, as you said, they can do all kinds of crazy things. WR: When you think about it, as I said before, my thoughts was the child is sitting around listening to mom and dad talk about this, that, blah, blah, blah, you know. And they may be all het up about the integration, that they really don’t want it, and blah, blah, blah, so they figures, “Well, what the heck. If that’s how they feel we’ll just go burn down the school.” Maybe their thoughts was, “Then they won’t have nowhere to go.” MM: Right. WR: “If they’re not happy where they’re going, then we’ll fix it so they won’t have nowhere to go.” That’s just thoughts, you know. MM: It backfired on them. WR: Because kids usually get the wrong idea when parents say a lot of things around them. I feel like that, even today, causes a lot of our young people to still have prejudices because their parents are prejudiced, and they talk about these things before these children, and maybe they don’t even mean it in the sense, but a child sees it in a different light. MM: Sure. WR: Or, they could be just angry with a person in another race for some other reason, but they call them out of their name, and the child right away says, “Oh, he don’t like so-and-so. They’re against my father. They’re against my mother,” and get the wrong idea. So it’s not always racism. Sometimes it’s just misunderstanding.