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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 >>

Returning to segregated education would not help the black community

Barbour does not think that a return to racially segregated education would benefit African Americans. He sees black student performance improving only if their communities support them and provide them with role models.

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:
Do you ever say that if you had them by yourself, you could do more with them?
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
All blacks in one school?
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
Yes, have you ever imagined would it be different working with those children if they were in one school?
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
It is hard for me to imagine that for me now. You take John. He can imagine that because I never taught all. You see I never had a situation where I just taught all black kids. I teach a Sunday School class but I never had that situation. I don't know whether I could take all those-as good an administrator as people say that I am, I don't know if I could do it but I could work at it. I would be willing to work at it for kids because you can't get all those black kids together to do that. We don't think of education as being important. That's what the problem is. What avenues it can open.
GOLDIE F. WELLS:
It seems that the old administrators that I have talked to took that responsibility. They were able to motivate the whole community to understand what education was about. They changed the lifestyle of the community with their message of what education was about and some of the articles that I have read seem to think that if blacks were working with blacks that there is maybe some ethnic understanding that they have that would assist in helping and when…
COLEMAN BARBOUR:
I am a history major. I'm not sure about that. In any situation all whites were working with whites. I don't think you have--in South Africa you have blacks and blacks and they stay with blacks. In this community you could have all blacks and it still would be difficult. I'm not sure about that. What I am sure about is, I'm sure that there is no direction. I am sure of that. Direction that should come from the home, direction from school. After that direction you get directions from the teachers then you have direction coming from all points and if a kid is able to get that, then they are able to do well. But our kids, the black kids haven't been able to get all that direction and that is what has made it quite difficult for black kids. But somewhere along the line I think being a role model for them-that is what they need--lots and lots of it. They will be able to change some direction and I hope they understand me as being a role model for them but also a role model for the community and people in general. If they use it, then they can use it negatively or positively but it is there for them to use. But if we give them the direction that they need then they can pick it up and use it positively.