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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martin Gerry, August 28, 1991. Interview L-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Using community colleges to prepare students for integrated contexts

In this excerpt Gerry discusses an alternative integration plan that would exploit the community college system to route students through lower-tier schools with the aim of eventually getting them into higher-tier ones.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martin Gerry, August 28, 1991. Interview L-0157. 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

MARTIN GERRY:
I wouldn't blame it all on Bill Friday, because I think that had more to do with that campus than it had to do with the attitudeߞand I'm sure that the system people had a lot of problems trying to keep these campuses in any kind of order.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah. They still do.
MARTIN GERRY:
Oh, sure. And, I mean, I'm familiar with the California system so I'm sure it can't be totally different.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah. Well, it'sߞyeah, actually ߞ
MARTIN GERRY:
I don't envy them, that job. And I'm sure that they had a lot of trouble getting these people at Chapel Hill to even seriously discuss it.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah.
MARTIN GERRY:
I think that thatߞbut that, you know, interestingly, in the course of southern school, college, desegregation, really I think outside of the some of the other social roles, the only two institutions that probably faced that problem that much in terms of admissions criteria were U.Va. and Chapel Hill.
WILLIAM LINK:
Do you think theߞto what extent do you think that the secondary and elementary model was useful in attempting to tackle the problem of higher ed?
MARTIN GERRY:
Well, in North Carolina it was interesting because, of course, it's used in theߞat the community college, the technical school level. That is to say, it's open admission.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
You know, the usualߞthe old academic freedom argument. When you look at the back tier, the AA level, North Carolina has one of the most extensive, and certainly one of the better quality, universal higher education systems.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
So in North Carolina, it seems to me, it was already being used. And one of the things we kept trying to do was to talk to the people at the second tier level, if you want to call it that, higher education tier level, about creating some kind of parallel roots for the kids who went into that first level. Now, I think that's very muchߞit follows what we did in many cases in elementary and secondary education. I think it was a quite feasible approach. At least it appeared to be. Now how politically real it was in North Carolina, I don't know. But there seems to be a very strong community-based system in North Carolina, more than any other southern state, of these higher education institutions. Now, whether you could have ultimately done what was proposed for awhile in California, and is still being played around with, which is to be getting this sort of sorting out, you know, of the first two years of higher education from the last two. There have been proposals for quite a long time that, you know, turned Berkeley, for example, into a sort of an upper undergraduate institution and let some of the other colleges provide the first two years.
WILLIAM LINK:
Oh, yeah.
MARTIN GERRY:
Create that kind of model. That might have been the beginning of an answer in North Carolina, I think. Because I think California actually is the other state with North Carolina. California and North Carolina probably are two of the most extensive systems. You could have, in other words, have begun to channel black and white students through some of these institutions byߞthat are quite numerous and community-based, and created at least an alternate route into higher education. It's the placeߞyou know, the University of Minnesota, there are a couple that they do something called the general college. But there are several models that could have been probably been pursued. How much I knew about that at the time I'm not sure. But I think that in retrospect, if I had it to do over again, I think I would have probably spent more time pursuing that sort of approach. In fact, it may well have happened in North Carolina. I don't know whether there have been some significant progress in that area. But it seemed like a natural.