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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Bennie Higgins, December 28, 1990. Interview M-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Desegregation erodes the esteem for black principals

Higgins does not think that school desegregation affected his career a great deal, only speeding up his ascent to leadership positions. More significantly, desegregation eroded the status of black principals because it opened up other opportunities for leadership.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Bennie Higgins, December 28, 1990. Interview M-0003. 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

GOLDIE F. WELLS:
How do you think desegregation of schools affected your role as a principal?
BENNIE HIGGINS:
Well, desegregation of schools probably made it easier for me to become a principal because when I first started in Greensboro the schools were segregated and the number of opportunities were limited. So the fact that the schools were integrated gave me a greater opportunity to get into administration quicker than I probably would have. There were some bad times and some bad experiences and some parents of the majority race who resented a black being in authority position but over the years in Greensboro especially, came to accept that and while some of them might not like it they did come to accept it and consequently overall I don't really feel that great an impact as far as desegregation on my career. I do realize, like I said, that the fact that it happened for me quicker probably because of desegregation but I don't feel that desegregation itself affected my performance or my ability to move and to perform in the school system. I just came out of school at just the right time and, like I said, Greensboro is a unique community, strange in some ways, but in one respect Blacks in the school system have had pretty prominent positions and have been able to move and I don't feel have been hampered as a result of desegregation.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Do you consider yourself a community leader?
BENNIE HIGGINS:
Well, not like principals of old. Greensboro has grown so. When I was a student here in Greensboro myself the principals definitely were community leaders but as Greensboro has grown and Blacks have become more prominent in other professions the principal does not have the prominence, I'de say, that principals once had. But still to some degree we are looked upon by a lot of people as being community leaders so to some degree yes, but certainly not as much as principals used to be.