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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A unique appreciation for diversity at West Charlotte

West Charlotte's unique blend of students nurtures an appreciation for diversity, Ray argues, but when students leave the school, they find that this atmosphere is far from widespread.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. 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

I'm asking, you had a consciousness of image and of that accomplishment, that this was something that was important that was being accomplished in the school, and I guess the question is, you were doing it for yourself but also maybe for other people to see? Who did you want to see this, and what effect did you want it to have on them? You may not have thought about this.
Well, I think it was really an effort to show that it could work. When I was involved in the desegregation stuff there were so many doubters, and to go to West Charlotte, to be assigned to West Charlotte, was the worst for many peopleߞ"Oh, we've got to go over there to that formerly black school." And, "Who wants to go there?" A lot of negative stuff. So I think for me it was a stubbornness that, "This is not so awful and it will be good." And I had a vested interest because my kiddos were going there; our neighborhood had been assigned there. It was very satisfying when it did work. We had riots and stuff early on; it wasn't perfect by any means and there was a lot of stuff still going on, but it wasn't the pervading spirit. And it was addressed and worked on, I think, in a way maybe that other high schools were not able to do, maybe because of good leadership and also because of this kind of unique mix of kids. Our kids would say, "This school is a bottle of what life is like in the world." And I would say, "Oh, no, this is a unique three years in your life where you have a chance to experience the way the world ought to be, but when you get out you will find it quite different." And it was such a shock to many of the kids, some of whom went, interestingly enough, to northeastern Ivy League schools and came out and said, "It's really boring! It's like vanilla ice cream up there!" They missed the diversity. We indoctrinated them, I will have to admit, into the value and the joy of diversity.