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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William Culp, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0277. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Role of schools in fostering successful interracialism

This excerpt starts after a tape break, so the question is lost, but Culp appears to be reacting to contemporary solutions to the problems with the public school system: he worries that vouchers will resegregate schools, and does not want students to miss out on the experiences West Charlotte offered him and his children. He wants each generation to continue the slow progress people have been making toward a better society.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William Culp, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0277. 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

PG: I just have a couple of more questions that I ask most of the people I’ve been interviewing about this issue. At the beginning when you were first thinking about school integration, thinking about integrating schools yourself, thinking about your children, what did you think that desegregating or integrating the schools of Charlotte would do for Charlotte? What did you think it would accomplish? WC: Well, I though it would in particular create a community environment that I thought would be more positive. That it would create more of a feeling of unity in the community. That it would be an opportunity for people to reach across artificial barriers and be able to meet and interact with each other, and that it would create a stronger economic and political environment than we had had during segregation. And the other thing was, it was just the right thing to do. It was something that was moral. It was something that I felt strongly needed to happen in order for us to begin to move to the point in time when we can get beyond race, when race will be perhaps not an issue and perhaps not something that we have to concern ourselves with. So I think that my feeling was that I wanted my children to grow up in a real world, a world that existed in reality as opposed to some sort of fantasy. My feeling has always been that kids, particularly in an urban community, who don’t go to integrated schools simply miss out on a lot of what’s real about the urban environment. They’re not very well prepared to deal with the real world when they become adults. I felt like this was an opportunity for my children at least to have a better understanding of the world and of people and to therefore be more successful in life. I never really thought of it as a social experiment. I thought of it as something that’s time was overdue, not just due. For my family it was something that was a commitment that we made, that we wanted to do something during our life to make the world a better place to live and to help learn to understand and to get along better. So integration in the schools was simply one part of that that was important. PG: Do you think your expectations were fulfilled? WC: I’d say my expectations were fulfilled within my family and for my children. I’d have to say that we have fallen short of my expectations as a society. We still have a lot of work to do to create a color blind society. We certainly are not there yet. I really feel that in Charlotte there is a great deal of racial harmony and a great deal of interaction among people of different races that would have been impossible had there been no school integration. So I think we’ve made progress, but like so many I think we’ve got a long way to go. PG: How much of that job do you think that schools can do, ( ) the question people ask? WC: Well, I think we ask entirely too much of our schools for sure, but it’s a critical point in society because it is a place where all students have to go. They have to go to school. I happen to be personally a little bit concerned about the move toward so much private education, not that private schools aren’t good. I know they’re good schools. But, again, I feel like in many cases they create an artificial environment for students that’s not the real world and that it ill prepares them for dealing with the real world.