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0:00 - Introduction

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Partial Transcript: ST: Today is Monday, April 29, 2013. My name is Sarah Turner. I'm the oral history interviewer for the African American Institutional Memory Project.

Segment Synopsis: Interview introduction.

0:24 - Background and Family

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Partial Transcript: ST: I'd like to start, Miss McDougle, by asking about where you were born.

LM: I was born in Burlington, Alamance County.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes her background and family, including her parents professions.

2:36 - High school

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Partial Transcript: ST: And where did you go to high school?

LM: I went to high school in Graham. At first it was Graham High School and my senior year was consolidated, and it became Alamance Central High School.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes her high school, including being the bus driver for the black students.

3:56 - Attending North Carolina Central College

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Partial Transcript: ST: Can you tell me about what you did after you graduated?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes attending North Carolina Central College for her undergraduate degree, including working in a local store, and becoming Miss Homecoming and Miss Law School.

10:41 - Teaching in Greensboro and attending UNCG

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Partial Transcript: ST: So what did you do after you graduated? What was your next step?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes teaching in Jackson Junior High School, and earning an education degree from UNCG.

13:34 - Memories of the UNCG Masters degree program

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Partial Transcript: ST: I was going to ask what kind of campus life was like because you were attending UNCG, I guess, in the mid- to late sixties, because you graduated college in what year, in '66?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes the education Masters program she attended at UNCG, including other students and one of her professors, Dr. Ernest Lee.

15:53 - Discrimination from professors

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Partial Transcript: ST: Were there other black students in your program?

LM: I think at one point we had two other black students in the program; yes, two other black students were in the program.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes some instances of racism and discrimination from her professors toward her.

22:00 - Integrating Jackson middle school

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Partial Transcript: ST: Well, did you - You said you integrated Greensboro City Schools-

LM: Jackson, yes.

ST: So you were the first black teacher at a white school?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes her memories of being the first black teacher at a white school in Greensboro, including racism from some of the parents and teachers and a few of the students.

28:38 - Becoming a principal (part 1)

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Partial Transcript: ST: And how many years were you at Jackson?

LM: Seven.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes becoming one of the first female assistant principals in Greensboro, and then becoming a principal.

29:47 - Masters degree from Appalachian State University

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Partial Transcript: ST: And you said, you went to Appalachian to finish out your master's in administration. Did you actually go up to Boone, or did you do it through-?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes earning a Masters degree from Appalachian State University in administration, and being able to take classes locally.

31:25 - Becoming a principal (part 2)

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Partial Transcript: ST: So you became a principal at that point?

LM: Oh no, I was a principal much earlier than that.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle continues to describe the process of becoming a principal, and what she did as a principal. She also discusses the schools she worked in.

34:44 - Dr. Ernest Lee

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Partial Transcript: ST: Yes, and so did you feel like UNCG helped you professionally?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes Dr. Ernest Lee, one of her professors while in the masters program at UNCG.

37:40 - Getting a Masters degree at UNCG

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Partial Transcript: ST: So when you were going and getting your master's, it was not necessarily just learning how to be a better teacher it was actually learning subjects. It was more subject knowledge of science.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes the Masters in Education program at UNCG.

38:44 - Philosophy of life and teaching

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Partial Transcript: ST: And I guess in the late sixties was a very, you know, it was a turbulent time in our nation's history.

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes her thoughts on being a teacher during a time when women and African-Americans were discriminated against.

46:16 - Effects of attending UNCG on career

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Partial Transcript: ST: And can you tell me about, you know, UNCG was a part of your life, not a huge part, just because of you went there as a graduate student, but can you tell me how UNCG affected your life both as an educator and then even personally?

Segment Synopsis: McDougal describes the positive affects that attending UNCG had on her professionally, including a good education and a lot of support from faculty and students.

49:11 - School integration

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Partial Transcript: ST: can you tell me just about any other memories you have about, you know, we're specifically interested in race relations, but, you know, specific incidents you can remember, and kind of Greensboro's racial history from when you were here in mid to late 1960s, up until even today?

Segment Synopsis: McDougle describes the process of school integration in Greensboro, and how it was handled by the school system and by McDougle as a teacher.

64:29 - Conclusion

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Partial Transcript: ST: Well, I don't really have any other formal questions unless there's anything else.

Segment Synopsis: Interview conclusion.


ST: Today is Monday, April 29, 2013. My name is Sarah Turner. I'm the oral history interviewer for the African American Institutional Memory Project. I'm here at the home of-

LM: Linda McDougle

ST: And we're here to talk about her experiences as a graduate student at UNCG in the 1960s. Was it the 1960s; do I have the right decade?

LM: Yes, yes, definitely.

ST: I'd like to start, Miss McDougle, by asking about where you were born.

LM: I was born in Burlington, Alamance County.

ST: Okay and what is your birth date?

LM: March 22, 1944.

ST: And can you tell me more about your family; how it was set up.

LM: Yes, I had three sisters, mom and dad. We lived on a farm. My dad was a farmer and a textile mill worker. He did a lot of farming on the weekends, at night, and early morning. All sisters were expected to work in the fields, which 1:00we did. We also raised hogs, so we had a hog farm. We kept about a hundred hogs all the time. My mom washed and ironed and cleaned house for white folks. We lived in a predominantly white neighborhood. We were the only-at that time-Negroes in the community. We were basically accepted as just another family. If someone died, we went to their churches. If someone in our family got sick, they came and helped. We exchanged help during tobacco season. My father was definitely the head of the household. He probably could be thought of as a tyrant because whatever he said, that's what it was. There was no questioning at 2:00all of anything; my dad called the shots for sure.

ST: And what textile mill did he work at?

LM: He worked at a textile mill called Copeland Fabrics, and surprisingly enough, it's still in operation. Recently [it was] in the news because someone from the government visited that particular mill. My dad absolutely loved working. He would work twenty-four hours a day if he had not had to sleep.

ST: And where did you go to high school?

LM: I went to high school in Graham. At first it was Graham High School and my senior year was consolidated, and it became Alamance Central High School. I drove a bus. My bus route was about a hundred miles, roundtrip, because we were 3:00segregated, although there were schools two or three miles away from my house, I had to pick up all the "Negro" children from the county, that end of the county to get them into Graham. So I would leave home in the dark, and sometimes I would return in the dark because of the long bus route.

ST: And would you pick up students of all ages, from elementary-

LM: Oh yes.

ST: Did everybody go to school at the same time?

LM: Everybody went to school at the same time; everybody went to the same school. It was a union school, and even when we consolidated, my senior year, all children did not go to the same school. We-Only the high school students were consolidated, and the elementary students still went to that same elementary school.

ST: And what year did you graduate?

LM: I graduated in '62.

ST: Can you tell me about what you did after you graduated?

LM: After I graduated from high school?


ST: Yes.

LM: Oh, I went directly to college. I went to North Carolina Central. It was North Carolina College. It was called NCC, and now it's called North Carolina Central University. I received scholarships to go. My family was really poor. I also worked when I was in college. I worked in the library on campus, and there was also a grocery store in Durham that had a sister grocery store in Burlington called King Cole's Supermarket. I was also the first female Negro to work on a cash register at that particular grocery store. That was supposed to be something that was big time, as I remember then, and I had to be very careful and use my very best manners and be able to count well because at that time the 5:00cash register did not tell you how much change to give, and you had to punch everything in. There was no automatic kind of cash register, the real old-time stuff that you see on television, really punching it, that's what we had to do. I majored in health, biology, and education at Central. I was pretty active on campus. I worked a lot; I normally worked at least forty hours a week in addition to carrying a full load. I graduated first in my class. I was Miss Homecoming and Miss Law School while I was there, which was really unusual because looking the way I do-I'm a fair-skinned African American. I used to be very white-looking, and my hair had blond streaks so it was really unusual at 6:00that time to be selected for anything because at that point everybody wanted to look as black as you could to be really into the black power kind of issues, African American, the afros and everything. But I always was friendly and outgoing and so I guess that was part of my reason for being selected.

ST: So what is Miss Law School?

LM: North Carolina Central has a law school.

ST: Right, but you weren't in it.

LM: No, I was not in it, but every year black schools at that time had queens of everything, so the law school had a queen and there were other departments on campus-There would be a Miss Sociology; there would be a Miss Psychology.

ST: But you need not be in that school.

LM: No, no, no, no. It didn't have anything to do with that; they just thought 7:00that you represented the school well, and you would represent them well.

ST: I've never heard of anything like that.

LM: It was a different day and time.

ST: That's the craziest thing I've ever heard.

LM: Oh yes.

ST: Wow, interesting. That is crazy. So when you were trying to pick out your colleges, did you always know you were going to go to a historically black college? Did you-

LM: There was no other choice. At that time, there were very, very few-

ST: UNCG was admitting black students at this time, but on a very small scale.

LM: A very small scale and it was not advertised very much. There was not a lot of scholarship money. There was definitely not a sense of camaraderie. There did not seem to be enough black students, and since I had gone to totally segregated schools all of my life, that just seemed to be the thing to do. I had teachers 8:00who had attended North Carolina Central and who were really good, and so I just felt that would be a good thing to do.

ST: And had anyone in your college-in your family been to college at this point?

LM: The only person in my family who had been to college was a distant cousin and, of course, when it was time for me to go, she immediately came and got me and loaded me up and took me so that I would get there in one piece and know what to do and where to go, and those kinds of things.

ST: And your parents supported or were behind you about going to college.

LM: Well, yes. My father said that he thought it was a great idea, and if I wanted to go, that was great. He had expected that all of his children would graduate from high school. That was his thought about things, but he said to me, "If you want to go, that's fine. You find the money because I can't afford to 9:00send you, but if you'd like to go, and you are willing to work, I'm completely willing for you to go."

ST: That's great. And so you knew, going in, that you wanted to do something in the sciences.

LM: I did, I did. I had a great science teacher; he was just fabulous and encouraged me a lot. He felt that my sisters and I always could be counted on in any lab situation because we weren't afraid of anything. So whenever he was going to teach a class, he would sometimes run the idea by us to see what we thought he should do, and if people would like it, and we just thoroughly enjoyed seeing him, being around him. He is still alive and teaches at A&T. He's an adjunct professor there in biology.

ST: And what's his name?

LM: Dr. Perry Mack, he was a real driving force in my life and in the lives of 10:00my two sisters.

ST: I guess growing up on a hog farm, you weren't really scared of frogs and baby pigs and-

LM: Oh no, we saw all kind of things, and my dad did not raise us as girls, per se. Whatever had to be done, had to be done, and if it was in the house, that was fine. And if it was in the field, that was fine; and if it was in the hogs-you know, handling the hogs, castrating hogs, milking the cows, whatever-we did that.

ST: So you majored in health biology education.

LM: Yes.

ST: So you were obviously going to be a teacher.

LM: Yes.

ST: So what did you do after you graduated? What was your next step?

LM: I came to Guilford County, to Greensboro City. I was hired as a teacher in Greensboro. They wanted to integrate the school system, and they were working to gradually bring teachers. I worked at Jackson Junior High School at the time, 11:00and I was given the option of teaching physical education or earth science, neither of which I knew one thing about, and that's what brought me to UNCG, because I felt like I needed to get a degree and my degree was in education, but-my master's-but with a concentration of earth science, so I thought it was important to know what you were teaching. And as soon as I got my degree, my master's degree, I was moved into teaching seventh grade science, which is similar to biology. It's called life science; I never taught earth science again once I got the degree.

ST: Okay, so did you go to UNCG to also get your administration degree as well?

LM: I did not. I became certified in administration at A&T and then I went on to 12:00Appalachian State University and got an ed specialist degree at Appalachian.

ST: So when you-How many-Did you even teach one year before you went and got a master's?

LM: I started getting my master's as soon as I started teaching because I realized that students needed more than I knew to give them, and I just felt like it was unfair to try to teach children something that you didn't have any basis for. And I was reading every night and working really hard every night, but UNCG offered a program and it was through the National Science Foundation, so that on Saturdays you could attend class from eight until one. Several of the courses were geared directly to teaching in middle school, so that seemed to be 13:00a good thing. I learned a lot and it was great having that kind of facility to go to, and meeting with other teachers who were doing the same thing that I was doing.

ST: How long did it take you, going just on Saturdays?

LM: About four years.

ST: Really. Wow.

LM: About four years, and I would also pick up some courses in the summer.

ST: I was going to ask what kind of campus life was like because you were attending UNCG, I guess, in the mid- to late sixties, because you graduated college in what year, in '66.

LM: Yes, '66.

ST: So you started graduate school in '67.

LM: Yes.

ST: Did you have any interactions with people on campus? Can you remember any memories of being on campus at this time?


LM: The interactions that I had, primarily, were with the students in my classes, other teachers who either taught in the Greensboro/Guilford County area. Some of them taught in Asheville, so they were from lots of different places in the state and everybody would drive in, so we got to know each other fairly well and got to be able to support each other. We discussed, like all students, problems and issues. My instructors were, I thought, very good. My-One of the instructors I had was absolutely excellent, and that was Dr. Ernest Lee who taught Methods of Teaching at the graduate level. And he just came up with all kinds of fun and interesting things to do with students, hands-on kinds of activities, and when I came out of school, when I graduated, hands-on activities 15:00weren't done very much. Most of what you did was lecture, just like you would do in college, and that was not going to work. I knew immediately that would not work with eighth grade students who were trying to learn earth science, and the textbook we were using-that the state had adopted at that time-was really a college textbook, and many of my students couldn't read or write. Jackson Junior [High School] was a really poor school; it was all-white but a very, very poor school. Children came from very poor backgrounds, and so that was another reason I knew I needed to find some other ways to try to help those students.

ST: Were there other black students in your program?

LM: I think at one point we had two other black students in the program; yes, 16:00two other black students were in the program.

ST: And were there any black instructors?

LM: No, there were not, and in some of the courses that I took that were not in the science area, I had instructors who were not conscious of the fact that I was a black student in their class, so I always knew exactly how people felt racially. Sometimes there would be really bad racial comments made. I, in fact, went to the dean and talked about that, and one of the instructors was reprimanded because of it. I had always maintained a straight A average in the class, and had something like a ninety-nine point-something average, and when I got my grade, I got a B in that class, and he said it was because I failed the 17:00test, his final, which was really unusual that I would do that, but I knew in my heart, I knew that it was a reprimand to me, a slap on the wrist for turning him in for some of the comments that were made in the class. Pretty much, by far, instructors were very fair, very good. If they knew I was black, no mention was ever made of it. I received no special treatment one way or the other. I'm sure that some of my instructors must have known that I was a minority student, but there was no-there were no issues with the majority of the staff. Race simply did not play a part at all in what I was doing, except for-I think there were 18:00two or three classes that comments were made, and in one class some students went to the instructor and said, You need to really clean up your act. They went as a group. You need to clean up your act because there's a minority student in the class, and we're feeling uncomfortable about it. And after that, there was never another problem with that instructor.

ST: Were comments made about, like, black teachers who were students in the class or about teaching black students; like about the teachers themselves going in and teaching.

LM: Comments were sometimes made about how to teach black children, and you know how they are. Comments were made about-At that point, they were referred to as "nigras" rather than the Negro. There were comments often just made about life in general. You know, when you're working in society, you've got to be careful 19:00of them, because you don't know what they're thinking, and, you know, we've got to keep them in their places.

ST: So it was more he made, just like, backhanded comments.

LM: Just backhanded, just backhanded; just typical Southern racism that some people had not left behind. But it was interesting that some of the teachers who were, I thought, the best, and who were fairer than some other people, were Southerners. They were not-I had a couple of teachers who were not from the South, and their ideas on race were as strong as some of the strongest racists I've dealt with.

ST: So did you ever feel like any of the comments that were directed at you, if they did know, or was it more they didn't know, so they said these things.

LM: I think it was just that they said them. I noticed in the classes where we 20:00had definitely-I mean distinctly-black students. If you could look and see you had a black student, you didn't hear anything. They didn't say anything. I think sometimes black students felt uncomfortable in some of the classes, but there was nothing directly said in the classes where there were distinctly blacks.

ST: Interesting. Is your family as light-skinned as-

LM: Oh yes, my father is blond and blue-eyed-was blond and blue-eyed. My mother was Native American so she was browner, a big woman. Most of my family is-looks white. You would never think that they're not white. They're much fairer than I am.

ST: But it was always that you were considered African American and therefore went to-you know, lived in the segregated system.


LM: Yes, because my family basically were Indians, Native Americans, and when it came time to put them on the reservation during the time of the Trail of Tears, they chose to become Negro because Negroes were not going to be herded, and they knew that lots of people had been killed and died on the Trail of Tears, so they chose to become Negro rather than stay Native American and be subjected to go to live on a reservation.

ST: Wow, that's so interesting. I have a master's in history, and my kind of focus is, you know, the twentieth century and on, but I'm interested in race relations especially in the South, so that's an interesting take on it. I've never heard a story like that so that makes sense, of course, in that time period. Well, did you-You said you integrated Greensboro City Schools-


LM: Jackson, yes.

ST: So you were the first black teacher at a white school.

LM: Yes.

ST: Had you only ever done your student teaching and everything else in black schools?

LM: Definitely.

ST: So when you were in Durham-

LM: Everything was totally segregated.

ST: So how was it going in to a different environment as a teacher, going in as a black teacher in a white school.

LM When I first met the principal, he was really interesting. He was a very old man-he probably wasn't old, but at that time I thought he was ancient-and he said to me, "Honey, looking like you do, you might have trouble anywhere you go. You're going to probably be just as accepted here in this school, as you would be in a minority setting, so when you come, if you decide you're going to be successful and get along, and if you treat people with respect, they probably 23:00are going to treat you the same way." And he said, "And that's all I'm going to say about that." So then he told me what I was going to be teaching [unclear]. [I said], "Oh no, I can't teach physical education. I don't know a thing about physical education." And his comment was, "Well, you could put on one of those little cute skirts and run around, and I'm sure you could do it, and it's just a different age." And I said, "No, that's not what I'm going to do. I will do the earth science" because I knew that I could read and try to learn that. The children were fine. I had probably absolutely no problems, racial kinds of problems, with students. The first day that school opened, there was a group of children who had made a sign, and on the sign it said, "Nigger, go home." They 24:00came into the building near the room where I was teaching, but they didn't stop at my room. They thought that another lady down the hall was the black teacher, so they were protesting at her door, and the principal and the assistant principal immediately cleared that mess out and during my planning time, they came to me to see if I was okay, and I told them I was fine, that that was not a problem, and that I had expected that we could have problems like that because it was a strong Klan area at the time. But the kids and I got along fine. In fact, when we went to PTA meetings, the children would come and sit with me, and one other teacher would sit with me-an elderly home economics teacher, Wilna York. The other teachers would have nothing to do with me and, in fact, during 25:00the first week of school, I guess they were not sure about me, but they were in the teachers' lounge talking, and I came in and I was chatting and they started the conversation that, I sure want to meet the new nigger that's on staff. And I said, "You know, I'm the one that you're wanting to meet." And they just laughed it off, and they didn't believe it and said I was really joking. And later I became very good friends with one of those ladies. The first PTA meeting I had a parent who came in and said, "I need your advice. I'm looking for the nigger teacher who teaches science." I said, "I'm the person." And I always approached it that way because I felt there was no need to argue; I mean I am what I am. And she said, "I don't think you understand. I want that nigger teacher." And I 26:00said, "I am the one." And she said, "I don't understand," and her husband was with her, and he said, "I understand, let's go." And so he just sort of pulled her away. But parents changed as they saw that I had enough sense to teach their children. Their children loved being in my classes. We did a lot of things that other teachers were not doing because I incorporated a lot of hands-on activities. I would often tutor children on the phone at night, and their parents really appreciated that. The children and I-Sometimes they would have to stay after school, and then you could transport children home, so I would, and we had the understanding, the children said, "You know, my daddy doesn't like colored people." And I said, "Well, that's fine; a lot of parents don't, but you 27:00know, we just see things differently," and they said, "Well, don't tell them." I said, "I will not tell them unless they ask. If they ask I'm going to be honest." So that was the agreement that we had, and that seemed to work out fine. Parents didn't have any problems; I started having parents who were very helpful, who would come to check, to see if things were okay, that they would talk to neighbors if things weren't okay. If there were people who were not responding appropriately, that they would try to work to get parents to see that it was okay. I did not have children who were pulled out of my class because I was black. All in all, it was a positive kind of working relationship.

ST: And when you applied, you know, as a fresh college graduate, did you apply just to the city system?

LM: Yes, you apply just to the system, and they had someone who called and 28:00interviewed. And I went in for an interview.

ST: And did they tell you in their interview that we were looking to get-At what point did you find out that you were going to be integrating?

LM: When I was hired.

ST: Oh wow. Was there ever a thought of going back and saying, "No, I would feel better at a different school or-"

LM: No. No, I didn't even consider that. I knew in my mind that schools were all going to be integrated at some point. So I needed a job, and I didn't even ever consider not doing it.

ST: And how many years were you at Jackson?

LM: Seven.

ST: Seven, and then what did you do at that point?

LM: I-Well, let me see. I taught seven years, and then I was an assistant principal at Jackson for a couple of years. I was one of the first female principals-assistant principals-in Greensboro. Then I went to an elementary 29:00school as a principal, Craven.

ST: Craven.

LM: Craven, it doesn't exist anymore.

ST: I was going to say, I've never heard of that.

LM: It's near the Starmount Presbyterian church. It's a little building; it's still there.

ST: It's still there. What is it used for now, do you know?

LM: Good question. It was used for something like Head Start, one of those kinds of programs, and at one point it was used as a school for handicapped students, so it's been used in different ways. I don't know what they're doing with it now. It's a tiny, tiny building, and it's not really handicapped accessible. And I was principal at Joyner Elementary, and I was principal at Dudley High School.

ST: And you said, you went to Appalachian to finish out your master's in administration. Did you actually go up to Boone, or did you do it through-?

LM: Some classes were at Boone, and some classes were taught locally. Locally, 30:00as in maybe we would go to Asheboro or sometimes we would meet in Winston-Salem. Sometimes we would go to Surry County, so it just depended on where, I guess, the professor decided the class was going to be. Usually it was not here in Greensboro because that infringed on UNCG. Every now and then we would have a class here, but, on a continuing basis, we didn't. We might just meet one class period.

ST: And how did you decide to go-where you were going to go for your administration?

LM: Well, I decided on Appalachian because it had that kind of flexibility. At that time, UNCG did not have any flexibility at all with a master's degree. You had to do it their way, and often times the courses were taught during the 31:00school day, so many times you would have to take a semester off, and I couldn't afford to do that.

ST: And you graduated from UNCG in which year.

LM: Nineteen-seventy, I believe.

ST: Ninety-seventy, and then what year did you graduate with your administration degree?

LM: That was probably '89.

ST: So you became a principal at that point.

LM: Oh no, I was principal much earlier than that.

ST: So you could be a principal without an administration-

LM: You didn't have to have an administrative education specialist degree or a master's in administration. You had to have a master's in education, and then you had to become certified in administration, so I got the certification in administration from A&T, and then I went on to Appalachian later.

ST: Okay. Well, what made you decide to go from being a teacher to being a principal?


LM: I didn't I didn't make that choice. I was told that I had potential, and that I needed to become an assistant principal, and that they would place me in an appropriate setting. And the appropriate setting happened to be where I currently was working, at Jackson. So I hadn't even considered being an assistant principal; women didn't do that. So it just hadn't crossed my mind.

ST: So were you-You said you were the first female assistant principal as well.

LM: I was the first female at the middle school level; there was a person at high school before me and she was an instructional person, but I was able to do everything. I mean, most of what we did at that point was classroom management. 33:00It was discipline; it was order and structure and those kinds of things, because we were herding together children. We were integrating the schools; kids were touchy; they would get upset easily. All children were sent to school at Jackson with the idea that if anybody touches you, you fight back. This was white children and black children. So it was a real time of turmoil and unrest, so we had a lot of managing behavior and attitudes and racial kinds of issues at that time.

ST: And Jackson feeds into-

LM: Smith [Senior High School].

ST: Smith, so is it over near, you know the, [Interstate] 85.

LM: Coliseum.

ST: Oh, over near the Coliseum, okay. I didn't know if it was near the 85/Holden [Road] area or if it was further-

LM: It's right behind the coliseum and still feeds into Smith; it's one of the 34:00schools that feed into Smith. Some of the dynamics have changed. I think it's become more minority than, definitely, when I was there.

ST: Yes, it's-I actually teach some lessons there once a week, so they have the only pool-public pool-still open. Grimsley [Senior High School] has since closed, but, yes, their dynamics have changed a lot, even since I was in school. There's a lot more Asian, southeast Asian, population there-

LM: Exactly, a lot.

ST: Whereas it used to just be a predominantly black school, now it's got a whole mix of people.

LM: Almost an international kind of setting in some respects.

ST: Yes, and so did you feel like UNCG helped you professionally. I know you talked about you learned different kinds of methods of teaching; do you have any other memories about, like, students you interacted with or professors. I know you mentioned one, Dr. [Ernest] Lee.


LM: Oh, Dr. Lee was absolutely fantastic, and he followed all of his students so that if you needed help, you could always call on him. He could provide additional resources. At that time, you know, there were no computers or any of that, so everything was textbooks, and there was very little copying even going on back then. I mean, it sounds crazy now. Everything you had to type out on a manual typewriter to do a ditto sheet so that you could make copies for students to even take tests and any of those things. But he was always a person you could call on. If you had any kind of an issue; there was something that you didn't really think was going well; you needed additional help, he could always put you in touch with another teacher who was doing it well, or he always had resources. Anytime you saw him, he always knew everybody's name; so he remembered you if he 36:00had taught you. It was interesting and very helpful to be able to work with him. The other interactions I had were with the students who were learning like I was learning. Some of them were much, much older. I was a very young student in the class. Many of the people had taught for years and years and years, so they had some basic skills and knew how to teach earth science. And they were very helpful and supportive.

ST: And did you stay in touch with Dr. Lee? You said he followed you, but did you-

LM: Oh, for years, for years. As long as I taught, I was in contact with him, and when I went to central office, our science supervisor was still making 37:00contact with Dr. Lee. He was really, really helpful. Another person who was very bright was Dr. Craig Dosier. He was in geography, and he was very demanding. He was of the old school, but he believed in hands-on activities, especially anything with geography, anything with earth science. So he was also very helpful.

ST: And Dr. Lee, was he like a teaching methods type of teacher or did he specifically help with science? Was that his-?

LM: Science.

ST: So when you were going and getting your master's, it was not necessarily just about learning how to be a better teacher; it was actually learning subjects. It was more subject knowledge of science.

LM: It was much more subject knowledge.

ST: So you went and kind of learned how to be a science teacher and just about-

LM: Yes, but of course we still took statistics and all that.


ST: Oh, [unclear]

LM: Oh yes, we still had that. But yes, it was teaching the grant that the university had from the National Science Center-or National Science Federation, something through the government-It was a grant and it was to teach teachers to be better teachers. That was the purpose of the grant.

ST: Do you remember who the dean was at the time-

LM: I do not, I really don't.

ST: That you went to-

LM I don't have any-I don't remember, no.

ST: Did you ever have any interactions with chancellors or anything like that?

LM: Not at that time, no.

ST: And I guess in the late sixties was a very, you know, it was a turbulent time in our nation's history. Did any of that ever affect you, either while you were attending UNCG or while you were teaching, you know: things like the death of Martin Luther King [Jr.] was in the late sixties; Robert F. Kennedy - Robert 39:00Kennedy was assassinated in the late sixties; there were, you know, some disturbances at A&T in the late sixties. Can you talk more about how that was going on in the world, any memories of those.

LM: Yes, I remember exactly where I was when I heard that John F. Kennedy had been assassinated. I was at Central, in fact, working with a professor on a project. Everything at that time affected-I guess it affected everybody, but in particular you felt, if you were a minority, you felt like you were a tennis ball being batted around. You saw great potential, and you knew that there were opportunities for great potential, but at times you felt like you were slipping 40:00back into the attitudes that people had during really segregated times. You often felt that people would look at you and you would see one face when they looked at you, but that was not really what they were thinking; it was what they had to do. It was what they were "required" to do. People were touchy; I have never been a person to carry a two by four on my shoulder. I was taught that if you did that, it would definitely be knocked off. And I've always been a person who tried to work within the system, because I think it's really important for 41:00all students of any race, be it male or female, that they need to see strong women doing work that men often did. I think for me, the racial thing was a big issue then, but also a lot of sexist kinds of issues were also coming up at that time. You had to have your head on straight; you had to know what you were there to do and to do it. And when I was teaching, my job was to teach and to do it the best way that I could do it, and inherent in that for me, was that all children were going to be treated fairly and be given equal access. I did not go in to the integrating of the school systems with any lofty ideas. I went into it 42:00because I knew I was there to do a job, and to do it, and to do it well. That's what I've always been taught all my life: to be the very best that I can be. My dad said, "I am raising all my daughters to live in a white world." And then he would always say, "No, you've got to live in a white man's world. You've got to figure out how to make it. You've got to be better than the best white that you're going to deal with." And that's the way we were raised, so for me, you know, there was lots going on and I sensed that. I always felt that there was so much going on, but for me at that time, my job was to teach, and in my private 43:00life I could do other things, but I had to be a teacher and the best teacher I could possibly be for all my students. So that's what I did.

ST: And you really-I mean, you definitely did. You rose above-I mean you rose within the ranks all the way up to central office. That's quite an accomplishment. Did you retire from teaching and being principal to go to work in central office, or did you-?

LM: It's just a move; it's just someone appears and says, You know, I think we ought to try you in this job. Let's see what you can do with this. When I came along, there were people who groomed younger people, who served as mentors to younger educators so that when the time came and there were positions available, they felt that you were capable of handling. You had been taught; you had been 44:00mentored so you were at a point where you could try this new job, and my-I had several mentors, always males, who felt like, This is something you need to do. I had one female who was simply outstanding as a mentor when I was an elementary principal, and she would just say things, you know. We just-We'd go to meetings and I'd ride with her, and the whole time, she was talking. Now remember, you know, when this comes due, you need to think about this. You know, she would always say those kinds of things. And she was a brilliant woman; she had started out as a secretary in a school and had become a principal in that school, and 45:00her name was Mary Reese. She was very bright, very articulate, and had a great attitude about things. I think I've always been taught to take care of the little things; make sure you get all of the little things taken care of and the rest of it will kind of fall in place. A lot of people say, take care of the big things, but my daddy just always said, "If you're organized, you're on time, you're doing what you need to do, and you're planning well; then everything will kind of work itself out." And it has.

ST: Was Mary-Just so I spell her name correctly; is it R-E-E-C-E or is it R-E-E-S-E, or is that even how you spell it?

LM: Yes, S-E, I think.

ST: And where did you retire from working in the school system?

LM: Let's see, I retired in [2001], I believe. I've been retired almost thirteen 46:00years now.

ST: And when did you start as principal at Dudley [Senior High School]?

LM: It was in the mid-eighties.

ST: And can you tell me just about, you know, UNCG was a part of your life, not a huge part, just because of you went there as a graduate student, but can you tell me how UNCG affected your life both as an educator and then even personally?

LM: Yes, as an educator, I received an excellent education. I learned so much about child development, about new approaches, cutting edge approaches in education. UNCG, at the time, they-My professors knew all the best practices. 47:00That's a term that we didn't use then but they knew all the best practices; the kinds of things that you needed to do; you needed to know. They taught us about researching: how to find out information, which was difficult back then because you didn't have computers. There was just-Everything was manually done, so they provided also a lot of support, instructors who were willing to be supportive, and I think with my classmates, I got a lot of support from those classmates. We were all in the same pot; we were all learning from each other; we were all 48:00helping, so a lot of support there.

ST: And have you been involved with UNCG at all since you graduated?

LM: Well, some. Occasionally.

ST: Somebody said you were-I found out you were interviewed in the eighties for a project that-I guess it was part of UNCG, I think-Who interviewed you? It was-I feel like it was a history professor who interviewed you, but it's now a part of the collection at UNCG that people could use for research about Greensboro history, especially race history. So that's one way you've been involved, at least. I don't if you had stayed involved, and done anything else.

LM: And I, you know, I attend things at the university. When I worked with the school system, we did lots of partnerships with different departments on campus. 49:00I've worked with student teachers, those kinds of things.

ST: Can you tell me just any other memories you have about, you know, we're specifically interested in race relations, but, you know, specific incidents you can remember, and kind of Greensboro's racial history from when you were here in mid to late 1960s, up until even today.

LM: I really remember a lot about integration of the schools. I remember that Greensboro did not have nearly the problems-I'm not saying that we didn't have problems. People often think when you say we didn't have nearly the problems as Charlotte had, but we had people who worked together. We had committees of 50:00people from university, from all walks of life, that came together to help with the integration process at the elementary school level. We had people who rode the busses; we had people who went into the communities to try to keep people as calm as possible. We had a lot of workshops, and one of the things that I learned about attending one of those workshops: people would come in and do role plays and parents-black parents and white parents. If it was a black teacher and a white parent, it was always a racial issue. If it was a white teacher and a black parent, it was always a racial issue, and if you could ever get off the issue of race and stay away from that, you could deal with the problem that you 51:00were having with the child, to help the child. And I learned quickly on that I just didn't deal with it. You know, if you had to fuss about it, you went on and fussed about it and then I just said, "Now we're here to deal with-Let's work together to deal with-You've had your say; I see how you feel but now we need to work to help your child. I think we need to work on this issue rather than: You're prejudiced; I'm not prejudiced; Yes, you are prejudiced; No, I'm not. And so when you get on that, you get off of the issue of what's good for the child." Greensboro has been progressive, I think, in race relations, but I think we have a long way to go. There was once a time, that it was a black/white issue. That's 52:00not the case anymore. There are lots of issues, if you want to say it that way. We have lots of poverty. We have lots of issues with teenage unwed mothers. And I think we're at a point now where things are-It's as much economics and dealing with poverty, as it is with race. Poor white folks and poor black folks all seem to have about the same kind of value system, things that are important to them. It doesn't really make a lot of difference when you're looking at the overall picture because they all have the same kinds of issues; they may be expressed differently, but for me, the thing that we need to work more on; to do a better 53:00job of somehow or other, is to work on the economy and getting people out of poverty, because once you pull yourself up and get out of poverty, you see things so differently. I was raised in a very, very poor home, but I was never allowed to let that be a motivating factor in anything that I did. We were poor, but we didn't talk about it. Nothing was ever said, Well, that's happening to me because I'm poor, or because I'm black, or because I'm this. My daddy would not allow it. If it happens to you, it happens because you are not working hard enough. You're not putting enough into it. So for me, it's as much an issue of an economy and economics and poverty as it is race and race issues. I think 54:00they're really intertwined, and I think the poverty makes it so much worse.

ST: When you were at Jackson, I guess they-You started out as an all-white school, and while you were there, it started to integrate. Was there talk about integrating long before it happened, or was it, We're integrating this year starting, you know, tomorrow?

LM: The system had planned for it; they had planned for it.

ST: And was it gradual, or was it, they were going to redraw lines and it was going to go from there.

LM: Initially, it was, we had a few students. You could select, you could just go. If you lived near that school, you could just go, rather than going to the black school.

ST: Which was what at the time? I guess Lincoln.

LM: Lincoln, yes.

ST: Was Allen still a white school at that point?

LM: Yes, yes. Lincoln was a good distance away. It was the black middle school, but it was a good distance from Jackson, and a lot of times black kids had to 55:00find their own way to school. The busses didn't-They did run, but they didn't run quite in an accessible fashion, so some students, before integration, did come to Jackson, before the year that they said they were going to integrate. We did have a few students there.

ST: Because was the area itself integrated, or was it still a white area with a white school?

LM: It was pretty much a white area. There were blacks living on High Point Road. Back in the area there were some blacks that lived in there.

ST: And then did it take a year of kind of gradual, and then it became, you know, full force, or was it always kind of a gradual-


LM: It was pretty full-force. We got a couple of housing projects, and that was a shock to everybody's soul. It was a shock to me, because I had never worked with housing community students before. It was a different breed for me. Everybody thinks because you're black, you know how everybody black feels. Well, you don't. I mean, it's just like being white. You don't know what every-You know.

ST: Well, especially if you grew up in a rural area.

LM: Yes, and I was in a really rural area, and children behaved a certain way. And these children were not behaving the way that I was accustomed to seeing students behave. I mean, it was shocking. So it was pretty full-force.

ST: And were these students specifically pulled in to bring in black students and to take stress off of the crowding situations at Lincoln and schools like that?


LM: No.

ST: Were they even near Jackson?

LM: No. Another school that was near Jackson, was Price, and it's no longer in existence. I think it was used as a police facility, but it's right near the housing community also.

ST: Was Price a junior high or a middle school?

LM: It was a junior high. And it also had some lower grades. I don't think it had kindergarten, but it had-It might have had six-fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth at that time, so it was another school that could be decided-that students could go to, but when they decided they were going to integrate the schools, they didn't just integrate Jackson. I mean, all the schools; there was a master plan, and everybody got some housing communities.

ST: And were white students sent to Lincoln?


LM: They were sent, yes. Did they go, no.

ST: They could opt out.

LM: They went to private school. There were all kinds of church schools springing up: Christian academies, those kinds of things. The children that stayed were the parents who really felt that this should work at the middle school level. Now, this didn't happen as much at the elementary level, but when children got to junior high school, you know, girlfriend/boyfriend, there were lots of issues and parents just weren't going to have it, so there were lots of Christian academies, lots of Christian schools opening up.

ST: And did the middle school, elementary school, and high school all integrate at the same time?

LM: No, they did the elementary first, then tried to work through that. Then-boom-middle school and high school.

ST: Middle school and high school together.

LM: Yes, together.

ST: Were there issues on the busses and-I mean that had to have been a huge 59:00change for everyone, both races involved.

LM: It tended not to be too bad with the buses because most of the busses were all black students or all white students. They still picked up that way from the neighborhoods. They drew lines like you wouldn't believe to balance the schools, but children just didn't go. Parents who-In elementary schools, most parents tried to work through it. In middle school, some parents who were really open, fair; who wanted to give things a try, stayed. Many parents in high school did the same, but when racial ratios got to a certain point, even those parents would often leave. White parents did not ever want their children in a situation 60:00where they were not in the majority. As long as they were in the majority, it was okay; but when things slipped and it got to be fifty-fifty, you saw people going like crazy, pulling out.

ST: And how did the integration of teachers go? Did-You obviously integrated the teaching staff, the faculty, but did they also start integrating more teachers at that time as well?

LM: Oh yes, definitely. Definitely. And that was as much of a problem as it was with the students. There were black teachers who just simply didn't want to go.

ST: Were they forced?

LM: Oh yes, if you wanted your job. You were working for the system; you did not work for a school. And there were black teachers that didn't want to go. There were white teachers that did not want to teach black children. They did not know how to do it; they didn't feel comfortable doing it; they didn't want to do it. They were afraid. I mean, there were a lot of teachers who were afraid, both 61:00black and white, because the situation was so different. They had never known this. And it was a tough time; it was a really tough time.

ST: That's really interesting, because I know Grimsley-or Greensboro Senior, I guess it still was still was at that point. It had integrated early on with one single student, but I think right after Brown v. Board, Greensboro was the first to comply with it and then one of the last, you know, to really put it into effect.

LM: And all the high schools in the city had some black children, but the county was a totally different ballgame because even until recently, we still have some schools in the county that have just a handful of black students.

ST: That's the way I went to school. I went to Colfax Elementary and I mean, we-

LM: You just, you know, you just didn't have them, so-


ST: I don't know-I've always wondered. I guess a lot of it had to do with geography at the time. Northwest Greensboro wasn't a black area at all.

LM: No. No, and even with redistricting, it didn't matter how much you redistricted, it still doesn't. It only lasts for a short period of time. If the test scores are good, if you've got a really good principal, if parents feel the staff is good, they stick with it. If they don't feel that that's the case, they leave-anybody who has the wherewithal. And now you have people who are home schooling. Lots of people who are doing home schooling now. Their children-many of them are getting an excellent education; just as many of them are getting nothing. I've seen some really good home schooling and I've seen some horrible home schooling. And I feel personally that parents-and this sounds crazy coming 63:00from somebody who is in public education-parents need to make the best decision for their children, whatever it is. If it's private school, then that's your child, that's your choice; and you can pay, that's your choice. If you choose public education, I think that's your choice. If you choose home schooling, again it's your choice. But I think we need to be providing the best learning opportunities we can, and we're not always doing that with home school. But I will say also, we're not always doing that with public school either.

ST: Do you have children of your own?

LM: Yes.

ST: Did you ever-Did they ever go to your school or did they go to different schools?

LM: Different schools.

ST: Okay, you never wanted-People always asked me that as the daughter of a teacher, "Does your mom teach you?" [I said],"No, my mom doesn't teach me." Although I was placed in her class my eighth grade year, and she went to the principal and said, "This is not going to work."

LM: It's not. No. I don't think it's fair to the child. It's like, you know, the 64:00coach coaching his own children. It's just difficult; it just adds another dimension to the situation.

ST: Although I've had some teachers, former teachers, who are now teaching their students because they're the only teacher who teaches that class. So luckily I would be able to get out if my mom just taught language arts, so there was no reason for me to be in her team, but people have asked me that and it actually happened so I don't know how that possibly happened. Well I don't really have any other formal questions unless there's anything else. You could tell me any memories you have or anything else you want to share.

LM: No, I think not.

ST: Alright, well thank you so much.

LM: Thank you.