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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0056. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Intent of the Pearsall Plan

Pearsall explains the purpose of the Pearsall Plan. The Plan's committee devised the plan to calm whites' fears about rapid integration. The goal was to provide enough time for whites to adjust to integrated schools while adhering to the <cite>Brown</cite> ruling.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Pearsall, May 25, 1988. Interview C-0056. 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

ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
They did it only to buy time. Let people get used to the idea. Let them overcome their great fear which can only be done, you don't get rid of fear in a minute. It has to be done by degrees. And you remember that 15% or something—the local school board, you remember all that—that can be transferred to another school. Well, that was legitimate. It wasn't used widely, I don't think. But the set-up was there. The mechanics were in order. And it could not have been denied. No, I don't see how people can, well, of course, people… Tom used to have a sister who would always come up at times with, "What you see depends on where you're sitting." Well, those people were sitting in a different position. But no, it was done with complete integrity. The Supreme Court had said integrate the schools. And Tom said, "We will not deny the law of the land." He was a lawyer, and he was that way. He couldn't stand Nixon, but he said, "He's our president." Our minister was at one time not very popular. He said, "He's our minister." I mean, authority, he respected authority.
WALTER CAMPBELL:
So originally then, he conceived this as something that we were going to have to eventually comply with…
ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
Of course, we were going to.
WALTER CAMPBELL:
We've got this fear among the general population about…
ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
You have fear to contend with. You fear
WALTER CAMPBELL:
So what is the best way to do it.
ELIZABETH PEARSALL:
That's right. Buy time. Give people time and don't inflame emotions. That's why he kept saying to the newspapers, "Please, go along with me. Just don't put any…" It was impossible to say anything without getting somebody riled up over something.