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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Maggie W. Ray, November 9, 2000. Interview K-0825. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Integration leads to comfortable interracial interaction

Ray believes that the West Charlotte community is only beginning to reap the benefits of school desegregation, but that West Charlotte students at least understand how to act in an integrated setting.

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:
Well, I'll move into a deep question, which would be, what effects do you think school desegregation, and maybe West Charlotte in particular just to stay very general, had on Charlotte?
MAGGIE W. RAY:
Well, I think we have yet to reap the full benefits of that. I think we have a group of young people there probably from thirty-five down who went to school here who know how to act in an integrated setting and who know that stereotypes are wrong and that people can manage, if not in great love and peace and harmony at least civilly together. I think my hope is that that will reap benefits. They're just now getting old enough to take some leadership roles. One of my students is a principal that I just saw todayߞhe has been promoted to principal in an inner city schoolߞso that's cool; another former student is head of the SWAN Fellowship, Executive Director; another one has her own drama company and did something about riding the bus to, was it at the children's theater? Are you familiar with that?
PAMELA GRUNDY:
Yeah. [unclear] .
MAGGIE W. RAY:
April Turner was her name, and she was in my class. So I think I'm beginning to see how they're going to live their lives, having had this background. I think it's unfinished, the story is unfinished. I think they got, my children got good academic education and they also got this wonderful learning about human things. I guess they got, I hope they got the feeling of the importance of the value of diversity, which is going to be the key from now on even more. I feel sorry for children who went to all white schools like I did and came to this later on. The ones who still go are isolated, because I think they're fearful of things that are different and often along with that fear comes a false sense of pride that their way is the best and only way to do things. Certainly at West Charlotteߞif you came over there from a private school all of a sudden you realized there were lots of ways to live and yours was definitely not the best! [Laughter] It might be one of the ways, but it was quite interesting to watch that happen to children for the first time who hadn't grown up in it.
PAMELA GRUNDY:
So you would really see that transformation?
MAGGIE W. RAY:
I would. Yes. And some of my very own neighbors would come, andߞa lot of them wanted to come to public high school to play sports or for an adventure or whatever, and some of them made it and some of them didn't make it, which is very interesting. And of course, the ones that made it I loved it and they would see what we were all about.