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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Desegregation of Mississippi schools

The interviewer wonders whether white Mississippians kept their children in desegregated schools for financial reasons, rather than because they accepted desegregation. Carter disagrees, but does believe that class is drawing new lines in Mississippi that transcend race.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Hodding Carter, April 1, 1974. Interview A-0100. 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:
But that decision is a function of money?
HODDING CARTER:
I doubt it.
JACK BASS:
If you don't have the money there's no decision.
HODDING CARTER:
Oh, yeh, to a large degree. Except that there are a bunch of people that work for me who sure as hell don't make a lot of money but who put every damn penny they got into their kid going to state academy. I mean gals and their husbands who together aren't making enough to make the old index practically, but whose kids are there. But sure, sure, the on going thing for most of them is a function of social or economic class.
JACK BASS:
You think they're here to stay?
HODDING CARTER:
State academy? I think in any community of any size there will be one private school left ten years from now. Washington school here will still be here ten years from now. The Christian school will probably be gone. Jackson prep is there forever. It's just there. Assuming we are all going through the middle of a great depression, which maybe isn't a very good assumption, but assuming there is some economic base left, there'll be private schools left. Washington School, for instance—now this is something that's useful to remember—Washington School is at least partially the expression of social snobbery which has not a goddamn thing to do with the blacks. A lot of its founders could care less whether they had 15% token blacks in there. What they want is a school which is an expression of their distinctiveness—socially, financially, you know—in this community. And a lot of the people who send their kids there now find it another way to prove that they have arrived. Like the wife getting elected to the Junior Auxiliary, which is our Junior League, and the husband getting to be president of Rotary—you know, having once worked for the president of Rotary. And going to Washington School—in a way what I really regret most about those kids at Washington School—which is where Clark's kids are—is that they are growing up with a whole goddamn scale of values which are completely topsy. They honest to god think that they are the chosen, not because of race alone. They think they're brighter, smarter, you know, the whole shmear. And they sneer as much at rednecks as they do at blacks. It's the rednecks and niggers who go to public schools. And they're going to get their little asses whipped. And what's really funny is, they go over here to ole Miss and the athletes who have had' their four years of glory at Washington School, they have to compete with blacks there. You know, they're dead. I must say I hate it for them cause it's not the kids' fault, you know.