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Oral History Interview with David Breneman, May 10, 1991. Interview L-0122. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Economist David Breneman worked briefly for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under President Jimmy Carter. In this interview, Breneman reflects on his ninety days of service as the aide to HEW General Counsel, Peter Libassi, in 1977, and his role in HEW's establishment of desegregation criteria for southern universities and colleges. Breneman begins the interview with a discussion of his role in the drafting of those criteria following the Adams v. Califano decision in 1977. In addition to outlining his own role in the process, Breneman discusses the work of Secretary of Education Joe Califano, Arlene Pact, and Libassi. Although Breneman's focus is on HEW throughout the interview, he also mentions the role of the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) in the establishment of a federal desegregation policy, and discusses the leadership of director David Tatel. After briefly outlining how HEW worked to establish the criteria for desegregation, Breneman turns to a discussion of the role of southern states in determining and following the criteria, focusing specifically on North Carolina. Breneman offers an assessment of HEW's meeting with the president of the University of North Carolina system, William Friday, and other UNC officials in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. According to Breneman, HEW was especially concerned about finding ways to work with Friday in the process, which he describes as both "cordial" and "adversarial." According to Breneman, claims that North Carolina was unfairly targeted during the desegregation process are unfounded, although he does acknowledge that members of the OCR thought education officials in North Carolina were not interested in implementing federal policies. In addition to outlining the unique negotiation process in North Carolina, Breneman also identifies HEW's emphasis on eradicating duplicate programs at historically white and historically African American universities and colleges as an impediment to desegregation. Breneman concludes the interview with a brief discussion of his work on the American Council on Education (ACE) later on in the 1980s.
    Excerpts
  • HEW establishes criteria for desegregation of southern colleges and universities
  • Meeting between HEW and UNC in Chapel Hill, North Carolina
  • HEW's disapproval of and effort to block duplicate programs
  • Perception of North Carolina and desegregation according to HEW and the OCR
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  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.