Integration's lack of obvious progress
In this excerpt, Nickerson weighs some of the positive and negative effects of integration. She thinks that the progress spurred by integration is reversing itself, and black job seekers need extra credentials to find employment. But high school students are socially mingling more often, even if as they grow older, they tend to do so less frequently. It seems that Nickerson is really saying that integration did not have much lasting, positive effect on African Americans’ lives.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Stella Nickerson, January 20, 2001. Interview K-0554. 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
BG: Do you think that most of the blacks who went on to get college degrees have had the same opportunities to get jobs here in this area as whites who have the same level of education?
SN: Are you talking about now or then?
BG: You can pick and choose. Both.
SN: I think at the time that I graduated, the playing field, they were trying to even it out. They had to be very careful not to offer the same opportunities.
BG: So the blacks got a better deal.
SN: Or they got a fair chance, it was made sure that they had a chance. Because then, it was like, you did not use race as a factor for not hiring someone. Now, I think the tides are swinging back to, if you are black, you are going to have more than a degree or something behind you. You are going to have to have a little bit more something special going for you.
BG: Are you saying that affirmative action is still something that the black community needs?
SN: Oh, yeah.
BG: And is that feeling strong in the black community, or is that just a personal feeling?
SN: That’s just a personal feeling.
BG: So you don’t have the pulse of the community.
SN: No. But I just really—you are going to have to—we’ve always had to work harder and prove ourselves more, but it’s getting back to the point where we really have to do it now. You’re going to have to have a little bit more.
BG: I want to go back a little bit to Chapel Hill High School and ask you how you felt you were treated as a black person your first and only year at Chapel Hill High. Did you see the white students treating you any different from the way they treated the white students, their own?
SN: If they did, I didn’t focus on it. I really didn’t.
BG: Did you see the black students treating the white students any different from the way they treated their own?
SN: It was obvious, as it is now. If you walk into any school cafeteria or classroom, you learn that all the blacks are sitting together and all the whites are sitting together. There may be one or two of them that are mingled out among the groups. That’s the way it was. There wasn’t a lot of intermingling going on. The blacks stayed together and the whites stayed together.
BG: Do you see this today at all levels, or do you see some mixing?
SN: There’s more mixing.
BG: And where do you see this mixing?
SN: When you’re out and about. I’m sort of looking at our kids when our kids go out together. You’re going to have a group of just all blacks. Then you’re going to have another group where it’s a mixture. Then you’re going to have another group of ( ). It’s a mixture.
BG: I appreciate your answer. But what I was referring to was at the level of school. Do you think that that mixing is occurring more at an elementary level, or junior high level, or senior high level?
SN: I would say it’s going to occur more at the elementary. I think the older they get, the less they mix.