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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Clyde Cook, July 10, 1977. Interview H-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Experience of segregated schooling

Cook talks about the experiences of segregated schooling in Badin, North Carolina, during the late 1910s and early 1920s. Cook recalls how, as an African American student, his learning experience was inferior to that of white students. Because the schools were owned and run by Alcoa Aluminum Company, Cook held them largely responsible for disparities in childrens' education.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Clyde Cook, July 10, 1977. Interview H-0003. 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

ROSEMARIE HESTER:
Do you remember the principal E. G. Harris?
CLYDE COOK:
I do.
ROSEMARIE HESTER:
What do you remember about him?
CLYDE COOK:
Well, really the name [laughter] more than anything else. I really wasn't old enough at that time to know anything about what kind of administration he was actually carrying at that time. I remember Harris mighty well, because Badin was in the… I guess you'd call it the reconstruction area in the old school buildings, and it was an overcrowded town, and so he had quite a bit of problems trying to control the school along the blacks along in those days. But what type of leadership he had as a principal, I'm not able to say that. I really don't know.
ROSEMARIE HESTER:
How did you feel about the school where you attended?
CLYDE COOK:
I felt… Let me say I never was completely satisfied about the school situation. Because you know at that time there was two separate schools, a white school and a black school. And of course, as the courts know and everybody else knows, the black schools were the less fortunate schools. When I say the "less fortunate," we was cut short. I recall mighty well that I never did get new books for my class; I'd get books that they'd moved from the white school to the black school. And if the pages of the lesson were torn out, I would have to try to get it out of some other schoolmate's book. I didn't have no way to look forward to. And so I always had a resentment and had a feeling in me that has followed me all of my life, that it was unfair. Of course, at that time I didn't see the day that integration of the schools was taking place, but I still said that I was very concerned and I was in no way satisfied with the way that the school was being operated at that time, with a white school and a black school.
ROSEMARIE HESTER:
Who did you feel was responsible?
CLYDE COOK:
[Laughter] Well, at that time the schools in Badin belonged to the Alcoa Aluminum Company. I don't know; they changed names two or three times. They might have been Light and Power Company, or they could have been… I don't recall just now. But it wasn't a county, it wasn't a state-operated school. The Alcoa hired the teachers and they paid them and they paid the school administrators and all themselves at that time.
ROSEMARIE HESTER:
So you held them pretty much responsible.
CLYDE COOK:
Yes, I do. Well, that was just sort of general for basis for schools at that age anyway, for white and black, not only in Badin. That was practically the principle that was being laid down and followed in the other areas, that you found practically the same thing, that whatever the whites left would be in the black schools, is what they would have to use to make our .