A unique appreciation for diversity at West Charlotte
West Charlotte's unique blend of students nurtures an appreciation for diversity, Ray argues, but when students leave the school, they find that this atmosphere is far from widespread.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. 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
- PAMELA GRUNDY:
I'm asking, you had a consciousness of image and of that
accomplishment, that this was something that was important that was
being accomplished in the school, and I guess the question is, you were
doing it for yourself but also maybe for other people to see? Who did
you want to see this, and what effect did you want it to have on them?
You may not have thought about this.
- MAGGIE W. RAY:
Well, I think it was really an effort to show that it could work. When I
was involved in the desegregation stuff there were so many doubters, and
to go to West Charlotte, to be assigned to West Charlotte, was the worst
for many peopleߞ"Oh, we've got to go over
there to that formerly black school." And, "Who wants
to go there?" A lot of negative stuff. So I think for me it was
a stubbornness that, "This is not so awful and it will be
good." And I had a vested interest because my kiddos were going
there; our neighborhood had been assigned there. It was very satisfying
when it did work. We had riots and stuff early on; it wasn't
perfect by any means and there was a lot of stuff still going on, but it
wasn't the pervading spirit. And it was addressed and worked
on, I think, in a way maybe that other high schools were not able to do,
maybe because of good leadership and also because of this kind of unique
mix of kids. Our kids would say, "This school is a bottle of
what life is like in the world." And I would say, "Oh,
no, this is a unique three years in your life where you have a chance to
experience the way the world ought to be, but when you get out you will
find it quite different." And it was such a shock to many of
the kids, some of whom went, interestingly enough, to northeastern Ivy
League schools and came out and said, "It's really
boring! It's like vanilla ice cream up there!" They
missed the diversity. We indoctrinated them, I will have to
admit, into the value and the joy of diversity.