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Oral History Interview with J. W. Mask, February 15, 1991. Interview M-0013. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    J. W. Mask was principal of Monroe Avenue High School before desegregation. In this interview, he answers questions from the interviewer's checklist about the challenges of his position, his management style, and the details of his job. Mask does not talk explicitly about race and education a great deal, but his experiences as an educator in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s were marked by segregation. Among the most difficult challenges he faced was a lack of resources, and he was forced to find ways to fund basic services without help from the county. With help from the PTA and parents, he managed to create a cafeteria in the school's basement, supply the school with books and desks, and form a band and a basketball team. Desegregation brought more resources to the school, but also a new set of challenges, including heightened tensions with a segregationist superintendent. This interview provides a useful look at one black principal's efforts to provide for a school neglected by a racist policy.
  • Finding a way to equalize unequal, segregated school
  • White school gets buses before black school
  • Creating a cafeteria without county support
  • Black schools get few resources
  • Strategies to compensate for underfunding
  • Desegregation affects personnel decisions at Mask's school and elsewhere
  • Integration "took a good bit of the fight ... out of us," Mask believes
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • African American high school principals--North Carolina
  • 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.