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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Concern with equity and the ramifications of the 1972 desegregation orders

Woods explains that "equity" was her biggest concern during her first two terms on the UNC Board of Governors. In particular, Woods focuses on the impact of the 1972 desegregation orders on Indian schools and for Indian students. According to Woods, desegregation plans structured the system towards African American and white students, with little regard to other minority students. Woods discusses the pitfalls of this approach and describes how she was working with the Board of Governors to find viable solutions.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Ruth Dial Woods, June 12, 1992. Interview L-0078. 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

ANNE MITCHELL COE:
So what have been the biggest issues that you've been concerned with since you've been on the Board?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
What else? Equity. I've been concerned about equity. I've been concerned about the dismal reports about some of the black institutions and questioning whether or not the commitment of resources have been put there adequately for the institutions to address their problems. Trying, I guess, to get folks in their decision making to recognize that there's a big wide land area east of Wake County, that the state doesn't start at Wake County and end in the Research Triangle and the Triad, that there is vast territory out there that is entirely different than the Triangle. Still the issue that has not been addressed in my estimation is the state service in terms of providing equitable assistance to Indian kids who want to go to college as they do with Minority President's grants, that has not been addressed. The University system has done nothing in those terms, because the only help that Indian students get is something that we had to go lobby the legislature for, the American Indian Student Legislative Grant which is not comparable to Minority President's Grants, you know, in terms of money. As far as I'm concerned the university system has done nothing in terms of compensation. That's not anything the university went after, that's something we went after and Senator Parnell introduced it but gave the university responsibility for administering it. I don't get bought and sold when you tell me this is what we're doing for Indians because the commitment was shown to me what was done with a consent degree, and I'd really like to see that challenged in the courts.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
Could you explain again what that says and when did it . . .
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
In 1970 or 1972, that was the deseg order. It was around 1972.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
And that has been bad for Indians?
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
Well, it certainly hasn't helped them. Why shouldn't they be entitled? The other thing it did was that it robbed us in that classification. Pembroke State University was an Indian normal school, the first four year college for the education of Indians in the country. The first in the country, but they classified it a white institution. So now Pembroke has the largest minority student enrollment, blacks and Indians, but it has the lowest amount of money for black students because it has the large minority enrollment. But, an Indian wants to go to Fayetteville, they're not white, can't get minority presence. Wants to come to Chapel Hill, is not black, so they can't get minority presence.
LAURA MOORE:
I see. So the system is structured for black/white.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
So you count us when you want to count us and how you want to count us and however it suits your little mission.
ANNE MITCHELL COE:
I see what you're saying.
RUTH DIAL WOODS:
We're those others. We're not anybody. We're just somebody you number. And then you have these fools that come around and call us racial isolants or social isolants or something.