Title: Oral History Interview with Mack Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0057.
Interviewer: Campbell, Walter E.
Interviewee: Pearsall, Mack
Abstract: Mack Pearsall is the son of Thomas J. Pearsall, chair of the North Carolina Advisory Committee on Education that created what came to be known as the Pearsall Plan. Ratified by the General Assembly in 1956, the Pearsall Plan allowed parents to move their children to non-integrated schools or granted them vouchers so that they could send their children to private schools. The younger Pearsall laments that this policy—created in the aftermath of the Brown ruling—cast him and his father as anti-black. He argues that unlike his father's rival, I. Beverly Lake, Thomas Pearsall had a diverse approach to race. Mack Pearsall recalls his father's anguish over this public perception, and insists that the Pearsall Plan served a practical purpose at the time by preventing public school closings. Mack Pearsall goes on to discuss the racial conflicts that arose from the merger of the Rocky Mount and Nash County school systems North Carolina in 1992. Pearsall argues that Rocky Mount residents largely ceased their resistance to the school merger in order to attract industries to the area. As North Carolina's economic footing has changed from an agricultural to a global economic market, Pearsall points to the necessity of higher education for the state's residents. Better job training and a more knowledgeable populace, he argues, will place North Carolinians ahead of competing nations, and will ultimately produce greater racial integration.