Positive social aftermath of school desegregation
In the post-desegregation era, Rogers argues that non-racial social factors affect students' test scores. Non-school related pressures on students are discussed later in the interview. Rogers assesses integration as a positive movement which increased the cooperation among blacks, whites, and other ethnicities.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Carolyn Rogers, May 22, 2003. Interview K-0656. 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
- PEGGY VAN SCOYOC:
Oh, pretty pictures. Aren't they sweet. What did you see
happening as black students were coming in to integrated schools and how
did things change over time? What did they go through in the beginning
and then how did that change?
- CAROLYN ROGERS:
That's something that still touches me to this day. Because
you have so few black students in a classroom and now that black kids
are coming up with white students, there's no big deal. Okay.
But then it was a big deal. You have one black student in a class of
thirty white students. That child is all alone. There's no
one who looks like him and you have three black teachers on staff so
that black child is probably not going to encounter either one of those
three black teachers all day long. So that child is like, in a sea all
by himself or herself. Especially if you're not comfortable
in that environment, you can't learn. There are too many
other things going through your mind. It's virtually
impossible to learn. You're not in a comfortable environment.
You're not in a conducive environment good for learning,
let's put it that way. So their test scores reflected that.
But how are those test scores interpreted by other people, as black kids
are inferior learners. Not true. If you put yourself in the same
environment, if you are a white student in a class of thirty black kids,
are you going to learn? No. It's impossible. But now that the
kids are growing up together, like my younger sister who was born in
Cary. She started kindergarten with white students, so
there's no big deal to her. That's all she knows.
If she's the only black person in a group of whites, it
doesn't bother her at all because she's so
comfortable in that. I'm comfortable in
that because I grew to become comfortable in that. My career took me in
that direction where I would be the only black person in most
gatherings, so I had to learn to be comfortable in that situation.
Believe me that's work, especially when the environment is
not welcoming. There's a pretend welcoming, but
it's not really welcoming. So I'm very comfortable
if I'm in a group of whites or in a diverse society it
doesn't bother me at all. My younger sister, it's
an expectation so she's very comfortable in that. She now
knows, and this is one thing that I tell teachers now too and that is,
don't look at a black student and automatically decide that
that student's learning is inferior. You need to be careful
that you don't do that. Don't make that an
automatic assumption. Today kids can learn but then there are so many
other things that are interfering with their learning, not necessarily
because they're black or that they are maybe two black
students in a class now of all white students. That's not
really the issue anymore, it's everything else that goes with
it. I may be coming from a single-parent home. I live thirty miles from
here and it takes me forty-five minutes to get to school on the bus.
Those kinds of things contribute to their learning now. Whereas when,
before when I started teaching in the Cary schools, and I say the Cary
schools because I always felt like the Cary schools are an entity all by
themselves, when I first started teaching there kids did not feel
comfortable, because as I said, you will have one student among thirty
other students. Now that we have an influx of other races it makes
things a lot easier for black kids to deal with because now
you're talking about Hispanics, Latinos, you're
talking about kids from Czechoslovakia. And all of these different
names, like your last name, that was just not here when I moved to Cary,
it just wasn't. Of if it was, I didn't come in
contact with them. You see what I'm saying. So times have
really changed, and I think for the better. I think the more kids live
in neighborhoods with each other, things are so different and
they're so easy because you don't know anything
different. My little sister knows nothing else but
this lifestyle. Of course she had an easier time because my parents were
doing much better now and when she came along than when I came along.
They were dirt farmers. She doesn't know the same lifestyle
that I knew.