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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Samuel James (S. J.) and Leonia Farrar, May 28, 2003. Interview K-0652. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Discrimination in segregated schools

The Farrars remember their experiences with segregated schools. Samuel remember using handed-down books and enduring harassment from white bus riders on his five-mile walk to his one-room school.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Samuel James (S. J.) and Leonia Farrar, May 28, 2003. Interview K-0652. 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

LEONIA FARRAR:
We'd been to school but we had to walk ten miles to catch the bus.
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
That was elementary school.
LEONIA FARRAR:
Well, we still went to school.
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
Yes, but not the kind of schooling that we talk about now.
LEONIA FARRAR:
We had to get that elementary training first before we could get to high school for training.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
So you did go to elementary school?
LEONIA FARRAR:
Oh yes, we went to school, Apex, we walked ten miles. In fact he went to Clark's School, Bell's School.
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
I went to a one-room school, that was on the Wake County and Chatham County line in a little place called Farrington. My first year in school, that's where I was in school at, one-room school, everybody in one room. And the teacher had to teach all of us. We was farm children, hard head boys. We'd get out there in the woods and pick up sticks and whatever kind of wood we could get. That was the fuel that she kept us warm with in that classroom, on a big potbellied heater sitting out in the middle of the floor. We boys would keep that heater going.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Did you have books?
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
When the books got to us they were probably the third or fourth trip around. They'd come from the white schools. The backs would be of them, pages out, all torn up. The teacher had to be brighter to know what we were missing. Bell's school, that was the name of it. It was a one-room school, one classroom.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Where did you go to elementary school?
LEONIA FARRAR:
I went to Apex school. We walked ten miles, five miles one way, five miles back.
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
Did you not go to Clark School? You didn't ever get there? They were living closer to Apex and we were living closer to Pittsboro. At that time you would go to the closest school because you had the distance to travel, to walk or whatever. She would walk maybe four miles, she'd walk at least two miles to get to the bus. When she started her brother was bus driver but before he become bus driver they had to walk I guess three, four miles to get to the bus route to get on the bus. And the only way we would have a bus, the PTA would buy one that was broken down and white kids were through with it. I know you think we're painting a sad picture but every word of it is true.
PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
I'm sure it is, it's just hard to believe. It was probably much worse than what you're painting it.
SAMUEL JAMES FARRAR:
We'd be walking, the bus would drive past us and white children on the bus would spit out the window at us, on us and throwing trash on us, paper and all that stuff.
LEONIA FARRAR:
They did him like that. They didn't do me like that. I don't know anything about all of that. He went to one school and I went to another.