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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Arthur Jones, November 19, 2003. Interview U-0005. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Resisting integration

In the 1970s, racial integration came to Prospect School. Native Americans did not want an influx of black students at Prospect, and the Native American principal at the time, Mr. Danford, resigned to protest the integration order, which was enforced by state troopers. After Danford left his post, Jones eventually became principal. Researchers interested in more details about the post-Danford era should continue to read after the end of this excerpt.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Arthur Jones, November 19, 2003. Interview U-0005. 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

MM: Let’s talk about that time period then. About what year then are we talking about? JJ: That had to be in the seventy—let’s see, 64, 65, 66—That was in the 70s when that really evolved. MM: Okay. JJ: And the whites didn’t want to come. We had some whites from Oxendine. We had some whites from the Philadelphus area over there, in the Buie section there. Those kids, they came to school here because they drew the district lines, and it so happened it went out that way and brought them. But that wasn’t near as bad as later when things really—they began to put all force on, and you’ve got to adhere to the district lines. That’s when the Board of Education really got it, and they said to the schools, “You shall not, you will not enroll a kid outside of your school district.” That’s when it really came to the surface, and the parents then had to go down to the Board of Education and deal with them, not the principal. ( ). They had guidelines, and parents knew. Guidelines. “We can’t go to the principal now. It’s out of his hands. We’ve got to go to the Board of Education.” That’s when they had the ruckus with the kids, and the Board of Education had to deal with that, and the individual schools didn’t have to do nothing. MM: Now the last time we were talking about Mr. Danford and the circumstances— Why don’t we talk for a minute about your working relationship with him when he was principal during the 60s, and then moving into the circumstances around his resignation and you taking over, mostly that story that you told me last time. JJ: Oh, yes. This was when really integration began to bloom so to speak. I was assistant principal. Mr. Danford was the principal at that particular time. That was in the 70s. The Indian people of Prospect community resented strongly having any black students to come to Prospect School. Mr. Danford being the principal made a commitment, and that was his decision, and that was even after the Federal Government decision on integrating, ‘64. He said, “Don’t you worry. I’m not going to have any Black kids come to this school. They’re not coming.” Well, Mr. Danford and I, our relationship was always superb. He was my superior, and I was loyal to my superior, and he knew that I supported him. But he and I, one-on-one, I said, “Mr. Danford,” I said, “This is the Federal Government now. I don’t believe that we’re going to be able,” and he just point blank told me. He said, “Yes, they’re not coming here as long as I’m principal.” Well, I still had to be loyal to him. He was the principal. He made decisions, and I had to go along with them, and I didn’t resent it. I said, “Okay, that’s your decision,” but I said, “I’m afraid it might not. You may have some problems coming back.” So it really surfaced now. It really surfaced, opened in the fall of ‘71. They came, the law enforcement, and they had heard what was going to happen. The Black’s has got to come. The government says they’ve got to come. The state says they’ve got to come. The county says they’ve got to come. Mr. Danford, the principal, says, “They’re not coming.” [BOTH LAUGH.] JJ: But anyway, it surfaced. That September morning—I believe it was September, but anyway of 71, and the law was here. The troopers was here, and everybody, all waiting, well from James’ [Moore’s] station all the way back the other way, and the streets were lined. We got to school that morning, and everybody they came. Some of the Blacks came. They didn’t want to come. They didn’t want to come, but the law says, ‘You gotta come. That’s your designated school. You’ve got to go.” It happened, and it happened to be the time, power, force, but it didn’t really get out of hand as far as any fighting, or any cutting, shooting. Nothing like that ever happened, but they were just forcing their way. They says, “We’re going to school there. Irregardless we’re going to school.” The deputies didn’t go and pick up anybody and put them in the van and take them back. They never did suffer that. Mr. Danford, about ten o’clock that morning, he says,” I’m going to the Board of Education. I’m going to resign.” I said, “Mr. Danford, please don’t do that. Please.” “Oh,” he says, “I’m going. I’m leaving this with you. I’m going to resign.” I hated it because Mr. Danford was a good administrator. He was very strict. He was very strict. Discipline problems? We had no discipline problems. He was very strict, and the kids knew that, and the teachers. We all knew, and we was loyal to him. He was a good administrator, a good educator, but he went, and he didn’t come back. And I’ll call names, Mr. Harbert Moore and Herman Dial, who is deceased. We met with him that afternoon down at Herman Dial’s home. That’s where Tara is living right now, she and her husband, and we pleaded with Mr. Danford, and he strongly rejected. He says, “Gentlemen, I’ve resigned. I’m not coming back. Your plea is of no avail.” He says, “I’m not coming back now.” Well, we stayed with him I know until about maybe three or four, almost sundown on that particular day. We left, and then Mr. Allen told me, “we’re going to make you acting.” He asked me in the next day. He called me to the Board of Education, and all the board members was there. Malcolm McLeod was Sheriff. He was there, and they asked me—.