Title: Oral History Interview with Charles Adams, February 18, 2000. Interview K-0646.
Interviewer: Van Scoyoc, Peggy
Interviewee: Adams, Charles
Abstract: Charles Adams was born and raised in Cary, North Carolina. His father was Henry Adams, a prominent member of the community who owned a local drugstore and then, later, an appliance store. Adams describes his father's commitment to education and his advocacy of equal opportunities for African American children. Because of his social ideals, Adams's father became a member of the Wake County Board of Education, and, during the 1950s and 1960s, helped to spearhead the integration process in Wake County. Adams describes how his father worked with members of the black community and how he dealt with opposition from certain sectors of the white community. By the early 1960s, school officials had agreed to integrate Wake County schools, using Cary schools to pioneer the process. By that time, Adams had become a teacher and coach at one of the Cary high schools and had witnessed the integration process at first hand. Adams describes how school officials worked with the school board and with the black community to devise gradual desegregation plans that were intended to facilitate full integration within a few years. Adams notes that the Cary schools were the first to integrate in Wake County (though as he points out, Raleigh schools operated separately from the Wake County schools at that time) and that Cary served as a model for other schools to emulate. According to Adams, the process was generally smooth, although he acknowledges opposition to the implementation of school busing in the early 1970s. Additionally, Adams emphasizes the important role of athletics in the integration process. As the assistant director (later the director) of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association during the 1970s, Adams believed that athletics provided a common ground for black and white students to come together for competition and teamwork. Adams concludes the interview by offering the names of other local people who could offer interesting perspectives on school desegregation in Wake County.