Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leroy Campbell, January 4, 1991. Interview M-0007. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#40007) See Entire Interview >>

Anticipating the ill effects of desegregation

The Iredell community knew that desegregation was inevitable, yet did nothing to prepare for it. The black community anticipated that black students would pay a price as black students scattered throughout the area in unfamiliar schools with unfamiliar teachers. Campbell himself left the principal's post.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leroy Campbell, January 4, 1991. Interview M-0007. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#40007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

How did the desegregation of schools affect your role as principal?
Well, we knew it was going to happen. There was a running battle almost like Romel in North Africa. No community wanted to desegregate. The communities were unable to prepare for desegregation and they didn't. Our community did nothing to prepare for desegregation. The law said there will be no more separate schools but there was no preparation made. Each year they said that you could have an assignment you know and they would just assign the least number they could. That was always traumatic to the staff. There was no preparation for it. Dr. Newsome will be buried tomorrow. He was the only person to be employed and that was after we had Title I to hold county-wide workshops in desegregation. So we didn't have preparation for it. Now it affected me because the trend was that almost all schools that were segregated you took from the Black schools and added to the White schools. So we knew that the staffing was going to be changed and the schools couldn't be built for the convenience of the Black population because the population was so scattered as a result and many of them were inferior in construction so most of them looked forward to--like I said I will be very glad when people will do fair things to people and with people. When we looked forward to desegregation we were not ignorant. We knew that we were going to pay a price and we had workshops on the price that we were going to have to pay. We were going to be out of field and we were not going to get the support and we were going to be assigned and have students and parents that were not going to be easy to work with. The parents were going to come in and fuss with the principals and say that they weren't going to have a Black person to teach their children and they did all those kinds of things to the teachers. And then in 1969, when almost everybody had to do it then the entire high school left and was assigned to all the high schools in the county so the school was left then with 13-14 teachers at the elementary school for one year. That is when East Iredell was built. I went from a 36 teacher school to a 14 teacher school at an elementary school.