Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martin Gerry, August 28, 1991. Interview L-0157. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The challenge of enforcing desegregation

Enforcing desegregation is quite difficult, Gerry explains this this excerpt. In trying to build an integrated veterinary school, Gerry experienced institutional obstacles in addition to a gradualist approach from the assistant attorney general at the time.

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

WILLIAM LINK:
But in the case of North Carolina thatߞyour handling of the vet school case was sort of related to that kind of approach, in other words ߞ
MARTIN GERRY:
Yeah.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah.
MARTIN GERRY:
Well, mainly because, you know, once they made the decision and did it, you can never undo these things.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
So you had a kind of enforcement problem. Part of the problem is that administrative enforcement is an incredibly slow process. So if, you know, if you're going to create this veterinary school and I tell you, "Well, I'm going to withhold your Title VI money if you do that," by the time you get a final decision on the administrative report, you'll have three graduating classes.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
And you'll keep running the school because I can't hold up your money while the hearings are going on.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
That was a very good example of where the judicial approach and the enforcement approach was aߞperhaps even aߞI was very strongly in favor of some kind of an injunction. You know, where you go to court quickly before somebody does that and says, "Look, before you locate this veterinary school, judge, let's talk about it." That's one of the real weaknesses of the Title VI process, is that rarely can you do that.
WILLIAM LINK:
Yeah, especially so with regard to universities.
MARTIN GERRY:
Well, I don't know. My problem was that the assistant attorney general at the time was Stan Pottenger.
WILLIAM LINK:
Oh, yeah.
MARTIN GERRY:
Who had a whole history with North Carolina of his own. So, Stan was certainly not interested in doing that.
WILLIAM LINK:
What was his history with North Carolina?
MARTIN GERRY:
Well, he had been director of OCR, you know, before Peter.
WILLIAM LINK:
Right.
MARTIN GERRY:
So, you know, I don't know what exactly with North Carolina, but Stan was part and parcel of the whole, you know, "play it out over a long period of time approach." Peter and I had considerablyߞconsiderably closer in our opinions of the higher education system than Stan Pottenger and I ever were. Stan represents much moreߞwell, frankly, I don't wantߞwell, it is critical. Stan was looked at it, I think, much more politically. He wanted to get through it, you know, get all the way through it. So, as a result, of course, none of it ever got resolved.