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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Value of desegregation

Griffin believes that in an increasingly interconnected world, integration is essential in preparing Americans to interact with people of all kinds. Desegregation is about learning to live together, Griffin thinks.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Arthur Griffin, May 7, 1999. Interview K-0168. 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

AG: It shouldn’t be just about access. We started off about access, and even I was one of those, probably, fifteen or twenty years ago, saying, “Make Hidden Valley work, then. Make it work. It’s all black; make it work, then.” [ ] make it work, but I’m just saying. As you look at the future, you know, segregation is kind of racial avoidance. You learn that. And if the world is going to continue to be as diverse as we say it’s going to be, racial avoidance is not going to bode very well for a successful economy or a successful democracy. Now, look around the world. Look at Russia. They broke up. We didn’t fire a nuclear weapon over there. And when some Russians came over here, I said, “You’re from Moscow.” They jumped all over me. “No, we’re not Muscovites!” That shows my ignorance in terms of diversity. I didn’t know. “We’re so-and-so.” They went back to their ethnic whatever-it-was. Look at Kosovo, OK? That’s not about anything but, “What are you? You Serb. You Albanian. I don’t like you.” Now, if we know America is browning, why are we creating such hotbeds of hate, of ignorance, OK? Not for [ ], I’ll be probably dead and gone, but I’m saying the next generation coming back, why are we creating that? “Well, we’ll give the blacks South Carolina and North Carolina, and we’ll give the whites Utah and So-and-so, we’ll give the rich this part of the world...” It won’t take very long, because we have to work as a democracy, where everybody’s important. And we like to fight. We have a history of fighting in America. You know they have, you’re the professor, all right? You got these many folk right here on the bottom that are brown, you got these many folk up here in the political arena, economic arena, that are white, now, how long do you think it’s going to take before these folk on the bottom say, “I think I want a piece of this?” What’s going to happen in this world? This world. So it doesn’t make sense. As you talk about history, lessons learned from history, what do you expect to achieve with respect to desegregation or the importance of desegregation. We have to learn to live together, and we have to learn to use every resource that we have, and one way of defining and understanding the differences and understanding and appreciating the resources of all people. We need to learn that at a very early age. And the best public institution to do that is our public schools.