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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Coleman Barbour, February 16, 1991. Interview M-0032. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Mentoring took place in black high schools before desegregation

This passage offers a glimpse of the mentoring that took place in black high schools before desegregation. Barbour attended segregated schools, but taught only in desegregated ones, he remarks. Therefore, he does not think that school desegregation has affected his current job as principal. He does remember the profound influence of the black principal at his segregated high school, though, and credits that influence for his success.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Coleman Barbour, February 16, 1991. Interview M-0032. 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 did the desegregation of schools affect your role as a principal?
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
You'll have to remember that I didn't teach in both of them. I have never taught in both situations and I have always been in a desegregated part. I went to school in the segregated part.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Do you think that the desegregation had any bearing on where you are now?
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
Yes, those men did a lot of things that made sure--I can give you an example of that. Mr. Kennedy, my principal in high school, I was a good student but I was going to take typing. Now typing is very important but at that time it probably wasn't. I was in there and I knew I could make it and Mr. Kennedy came and got me out of there and put me in geometry.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Where was this?
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
Clayton, it was Cooper High School then. Clayton is right outside of Raleigh and he got me out of there and I was mad at him but at that time you didn't talk back to principals. He went to church with us and he knew Mama very well. He knew that Mama was a hard working person and she had those seven boys and how she kept us straight and he knew that anything that he said to her or any other family that was the end. It wasn't any question about it. We called him names behind his back like everybody else does but he was the one who said, "Hey, you are going to go here." When I became a senior, not only me now, remember he does for everybody, you go here and he separated me and my best friend, sent one to one university and me to another, and he knew what he was doing because all of this; Dale is a chemist, he knew what he was doing, I guess. But he was determined what we did. He used to walk up and down the halls, stay in the hall and watch kids and I find myself staying in the hall watching kids as they come in and making sure he would talk with his teachers and as I go by in the mornings I talk with everybody. Not realizing that he had an influence but then realizing--he is 91 now and still living. His wife taught me in the 7th grade so these men left their footprints on most of us other educators. The thing that I would have liked to have done is taught in all black schools and then taught in a desegregated school. I can't make that comparison. All of mine has been in desegregated situations. But I am sure that you are talking with John up in Fayetteville. He probably can make that distinction. Moses Lewis can probably make that distinction down at South Brunswick. These men had a very important part to play in us being the types of principals that we are, I would say and not knowingly so.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
But your mentor even though you didn't realize it.
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
Yes, you don't realize that at the time but then you found out that they were doing something good. Just like a parent telling a child to do something and he says no. Then when they get older they realize.