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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Coleman Barbour, February 16, 1991. Interview M-0032. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Declining status of post-integration black principals

This passage is difficult to parse, but Barbour seems to be agreeing with the interviewer's suggestion that the power of black principals diminished with desegregation. Principals today (as of 1991) are afraid of getting involved in community politics, Barbour believes, and the demands of their communities force principals into difficult situations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Coleman Barbour, February 16, 1991. Interview M-0032. 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 think the principals when we were in segregated schools had real power. Power in that building, power in the community and they could tell you and whatever they told you that was it.
And real power at that time was real power. Power now is a political and economical power. You have to have those two and you have to have social power too, being in different clubs. Like I am in the Rotary and I am probably the first black that has ever been in it but then there are others, Thomas Jones, a fellow at CP & L, and you have to have some social power and you have to have that social power to get the economical power and the political power. But you have to earn all of that stuff. It takes a long time and I'm the first black principal that has ever been at Whiteville High School and there was a man here by the name of Graham Powell and he never got that opportunity. I'm sure there are some other places that were better. He was black but schools were segregated then and from what my understanding is from my history--I wrote the history of the Central Middle School while I was there and it seems to me like he was a very, very effective principal. He did things that my principal back in Clayton did. They were somewhat similar. But then you talk to anybody and you find out that all of those principals were just alike and the thing about being a principal in these days and times is that we are afraid to really get into those three issues--social, economical and political situations because they are tough situations. They pull on you all the time. You do things when you don't want to do things but you have to do things. You have to do those things.
So you are saying that is a requirement now?
Yes, that is a requirement now. You have to be there. I've had to and I'm sure all these other people that you have interviewed have three or four meetings at one time. You pop up here and stand a while and then you go there and then you go on.