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Oral History Interview with Robert Giles, September 10, 1987. Interview C-0063. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Robert Giles discusses the public and political reaction to the Supreme Court's Brown ruling, explaining the heavy pressure the Brown order placed on North Carolina politicians, who hoped to prevent alienating the white population. Giles asserts that state politicians adopted a moderate stance and moderate policies which yielded minimal racial desegregation. The Pupil Assignment Act of 1955 and the Pearsall Plan, he says, assuaged whites fears by keeping the public schools open and projecting the perception that the public controlled school assignments. He lauds the effectiveness of the gubernatorial leadership of William Umstead and Luther Hodges in the early to mid-1950s. Giles also touches on segregationist I. Beverly Lake, who attempted to stoke racial tensions and drum up support for his personal political ambitions.
    Excerpts
  • Political reaction to Brown in North Carolina
  • The Pearsall Plan was a boon for state politicians, putting the decision of school desegregation in the hands of parents rather than state officials
  • Despite Lake's anti-desegregation language, state politicians supported his right to free speech
  • North Carolina hoped to avoid federal intervention as occurred in the post-Civil War era, even though white residents resented the Brown ruling
  • Giles evaluates the key actors involved with the Pearsall Plan
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  • 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.