Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with U. W. Clemon, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0006. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reversal of desegregation via end to busing

Clemon expresses his horror at a recent court decision ending busing below the sixth grade.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with U. W. Clemon, July 17, 1974. Interview A-0006. 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

JACK BASS:
What's your reaction to what I understood to be. . . and I sort of got an only very cursory report, might have just been on radio or television or something. . . but as I understood it that Frank Johnson had issued an order in effect proposing an end to busing below the 6th grade.
U. W. CLEMON:
Yes. I have not seen the order. I've seen varied reports of it and have heard various commentaries on it, on the wisdom of it. Those commentaries principally coming from school board members and southern newspapers. I think that the order cannot stand if the Swann decision stands, the Charlotte decision. As I understand it, Judge Johnson in that case said that neighborhood schools, although they are one race schools, can survive even in a system which is historically unknown racially segregated school system. I think that the order has to be reversed by the 5th circuit.
JACK BASS:
Were you surprised at the decision?
U. W. CLEMON:
I was shocked. I was absolutely shocked to hear of the decision. Because it was Frank Johnson and also because, as I understand it, US Law Week [?] I saw some exerpts from the decision and the decision contains, in effect, an apology for his having ruled that way. Cites the cases in which he has in effect upheld the constitutional rights of blacks, to say that he's not really a racist. He probably isn't, but I do think that he's dead wrong in that case. This is not to say that I believe that wholesale busing should always be employed at the first grade level in order to desegregate schools. I don't think any court has gone that far and I wouldn't advocate it. But at the same time, I don't believe that the use of bus transportation to desegregate elementary schools can be ruled unconstitutional out of hand.