Anger at the failures of integration
Furious with Chapel Hill High School, Jeter refused to march in her graduation. Her frustration stemmed from unequal punishments for misbehaving white and black students, and an atmosphere of disinterest in black academic progress. She felt the same about Florida State University, where she got her nursing degree, and donates money only to Johnson C. Smith University, a black school.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. 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
GRJ: I was just remembering, when I graduated from high school, I was so angry and so disgusted that I told my mother, if she wanted that diploma, she would have to go get it. I refused to march. It was just – I was through with them. And I promised myself that I would never go back to that school. And I have gone back, once. I went with my father to pick up my niece. And that’s it. I did go back to the 25th class reunion only because Charity Harteson was going to be there and I wanted to see her. That’s the only reason I went.
BG: Is this something that’s common in the African-American community, is it, they, they were not going up to pick up their diploma –
GRJ: I think so.
BG: -- and they don’t go back to the reunions –
GRJ: I think so. And I don’t think, I’ll bet money: If you talk with the people who graduated even from the college level, from white universities, they do not feel a part of the schools. I graduated from Florida State, and, I did not march, I was, I graduated in nursing school, I did go through the pinning ceremony, only because my parents came from North Carolina to Tallahassee to see me get pinned as a nurse. So I did do that. I never give any money to the school. In fact, my husband went to Johnson C. Smith University as well as Fran, my sister. We sit down at the end of the year and we send money to Johnson C. Smith and I send, when he says, “I’m gonna send money to my school,” I send my money to Smith. Because I don’t feel, I just – you go and you get what you can get from them, and you leave them because they don’t want you there anyway. And I think that’s what the people at Chapel Hill High School felt. They didn’t want us as black students there. And they let you know. They may not say – they may not walk up to you and say to your face, “we don’t want you here,” but their attitude is, we don’t want you here.
BG: How, how did you, um, come up with that feeling. Was that from students? Or from teachers? Or both?
GRJ: I think it’s from both. There are, there were some, um, students, who were very nice. And who liked, me as an individual. And you know, you might want to ask, Carl Kargeris. And I’m sure he’s still around here.
GRJ: Maybe. Uh huh. He was in my English class. K-A-R-G-E-R-I-S. And he and I were good friends.
BG: Is he white or black?
GRJ: He’s white. And he’s, he’s a [indistinguishable] white. Oh yeah, that might be an interesting perspective.
BG: Oh I think it’s necessary.
GRJ: He used to (laughs), I used to have this car, he lives in Pittsboro, he’s in construction business or was, the last time I talked with him. He’s another person that sort of keeps up with – I haven’t talked with him in a while. But he – he and I got along as individuals, as friends. But the administration? Did not – I don’t want to say – it was more than just ignoring you. You could survive if somebody ignores you. But they tried to make it difficult for you. They did not meet out equal punishment. When two students were doing the same thing, if you were white, your punishment was a lot less than if you were black? So it was that kind of, they discouraged people from – going to college, they discouraged the black students from going to college. Because they encouraged you as a black student to do work study. Work study trains you to graduate from high school and get a job. It doesn’t train you to graduate from high school and go to college. So they discouraged the black students from going to college, from pursuing academics, and it didn’t really matter if you were smart or not, that was irrelevant. They didn’t want you to – here we go, I didn’t even spell his name right.