Documenting the American South Logo
Collections >> Oral Histories of the American South >> Document Menu
Oral History Interview with Mack Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0057. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
Audio with Transcript
  • Listen Online with Text Transcript (Requires QuickTime and JavaScript)
  • Transcript Only (40 p.)
  • HTML file
  • XML/TEI source file
  • Download Complete Audio File (MP3 format / ca. 115 MB, 01:03:09)
  • MP3
  • 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.
  • Pearsall's business differences with his father, Thomas J. Pearsall
  • Economic shifts in agriculture due to mechanization and industrial growth
  • Benefits and disadvantages of globalism in North Carolina
  • Merger of Rocky Mount public schools and its impact on outside business interests
  • Business growth will lead to racial integration; rescuing his father's image from that of a segregationist
  • Creation and impact of the Pearsall Plan
  • Political differences between Thomas Pearsall and I. Beverly Lake
  • Effect of the Pearsall Plan on Pearsall and his father
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.