Title: Oral History Interview with Martin Gerry, August 28, 1991. Interview L-0157.
Interviewer: Link, William
Interviewee: Gerry, Martin
Abstract: After building a resume advocating for desegregation and other racial justice issues, Martin Gerry became director of the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) in 1975, immediately and aggressively moving to force southern states to integrate and to begin reversing the effects of segregation. He made North Carolina an area of focus in part because he felt that the state had the will and the means to successfully integrate. The results disappointed Gerry, and he recounts one example of such disappointing progress: the debate over locating a veterinary school at a historically black institution. Such a decision would have sent a strong signal that North Carolina was ready to offer its black schools a slice of its educational reputation. But by placing the veterinary school at North Carolina State University, the state suggested that it was ready to fight to maintain the supremacy of traditionally white institutions. This interview offers a glimpse of one individual's struggle with dismantling segregation in the South from the top down.