Philosophy on race and education
John and Melville Ivey discuss their views on race and on desegregation. Melville explains that throughout his career, John had always demonstrated his belief that African Americans and whites were deserving of equal opportunities, as evidenced by his volunteer teaching in Greensboro, North Carolina, during the early 1940s. John corroborates this by noting that through his work with the SREB, he hoped to improve education across the board because he believed education was the key to cooperation and political development in the South.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with John Ivey, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0360. 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
- JOHN EGERTON:
How would you characterize your own philosophy on the racial issue back
at that time, Mr. Ivey?
- JOHN IVEY:
How would I characterize my . . .
- MELVILLE CORBETT IVEY:
You're looking at somebody that never does see color. He sees people, he
doesn't see color. Never has. When he came up here as a graduate student
and Dr. Odum was teaching at night school, I don't know whether you know
that, but Dr. Odum had classes over at Durham, and the black colleges
over there in Greensboro. He taught them at night because they couldn't
get accredited professors to do the graduate work so the kids could get
degrees. He would recruit graduate students and this one [John] was one
of the main ones who volunteered to go over.
Even when he was starting out and he had so much on him because he really
hadn't had that good a background and all to start out the way he was.
He was going over and teaching at night. He enjoyed his classes very
much and the students. He made a good friend . . . What was his name? We
met him back in India, we came across him in India. Do you know who I'm
talking about? Anyhow, he was a black professor and very strongly in the
Civil Rights movement and John came across him working as an assistant
professor over there. We used to stay and play basketball with him and
- JOHN EGERTON:
I guess the point I would like to get you to elaborate on a little bit is
this was the time before the Civil Rights movement really began. Of
course, nothing ever begins all of a sudden one day, there are
antecedents. This period of time, particularly the time from the end of
the war until the Brown decision in 1954, was a time
when people in one way or another were having to decide where they stood
on the issue of desegregation, on the end of segregation and Jim Crow
laws and all that kind of thing. Some people had decided a long time
before that, but the society had not decided and the culture was not
being transformed in any extensive way at that time. So, any time you
found yourself in a situation where the issue came up constantly,
segregation versus desegregation, you had to make your own philosophical
choice on where you're going to stand on that. I'm wondering if during
this period of time you ever saw the job you had at SREB as being either
a job that would lead to desegregation or a job
that would prevent desegregation from happening?
- JOHN IVEY:
I took the position all the way through that the economic development of
the South, political development of the South, was dependant upon how
well, how people could get others, on an equal basis, to work with them.