Title: Oral History Interview with J. W. Mask, February 15, 1991. Interview M-0013.
Interviewer: Wells, Goldie F.
Interviewee: Mask, J. W.
Subjects: African American high school principals--North Carolina
Abstract: J. W. Mask was principal of Monroe Avenue High School before desegregation. In this interview, he answers questions from the interviewer's checklist about the challenges of his position, his management style, and the details of his job. Mask does not talk explicitly about race and education a great deal, but his experiences as an educator in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were marked by segregation. Among the most difficult challenges he faced was a lack of resources, and he was forced to find ways to fund basic services without help from the county. With help from the PTA and parents, he managed to create a cafeteria in the school's basement, supply the school with books and desks, and form a band and a basketball team. Desegregation brought more resources to the school, but also a new set of challenges, including heightened tensions with a segregationist superintendent. This interview provides a useful look at one black principal's efforts to provide for a school neglected by a racist policy.