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Interview with David Hunter

Interviewee: 
Hunter, David
Interviewer: 
Howard, Debbie
Date of Interview: 
2005-04-14
Identifier: 
BBHU0024
Subjects: 
Coverage: 
Charlotte, North Carolina 1940-1980
Interview Setting: 
Home of David Lee Hunter, Charlotte, North Carolina
Collection: 
Before Brown Collection
Transcript:
DH (Debbie Howard): Today is April 14. I am Debbie Howard with the Before Brown Project which is part of the Oral History interviews at the University of North Carolina of Charlotte. I am interviewing David Hunter at 4415 Garvin Drive in Charlotte. Mr. Hunter please tell me more about your-let me start with your parents and your family that you grew up with.
DLH (David Lee Hunter): OK I was born in a little community called Cherry.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Over between Myers Park and Brooklyn. They-I was born out of wedlock.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: My mother was named Annie Lee and my name is David Lee and I always put the L in my name for my mother.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I grew-I was raised in a house with my mother and my grandmother and my aunt. My aunt was married and lived in New York for some years but was divorced and moved back to Charlotte. Now I was born in '33 that's a good time--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: --so my remembrance of things probably was about the early '39 or '40 when I remember things growing up in Cherry. They were very, very strong there were three ladies in the house my grandmother Mammy her name was Mammy Lee Hunter, my grandmamma was Annie Lee Hunter and my aunt was Irene Jones. And my mamma had one child that was me and my aunt had two Chelsea and Gloria. So all of us grew up in this big old house. We was one of the few-there was a few people in Cherry that owned houses. Owned their own home and we owned our own home because my grandfather who I don't remember had bought this home and build this home or whatever and we had this little home on Fox Street. Big old white two story house so we lived there we had a garden and Fox Street was a one block-well black folks lived in the one block of Fox Street. Fox Street we lived in the south end of Fox. The south end of Fox two blocks off of Fourth Street you know where Fourth Street is?
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: The first block south was white folks lived the second block black folks lived. And they-two blocks over was Douglas Funeral Home where Douglas Airport is named after. Ben Douglas the mayor of the city of Charlotte. But anyway I was born and grew up there in the Cherry community.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And now as far as I knew we had a good life I did not know we were poor. I had no idea that we was poor. We had a garden we raised-the ladies canned everything in the summer and we ate what they had canned in summer in the winter. We had chickens the neighbors had pear trees and apple trees and there was a complete sharing of what you need.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: You know there was no-nobody went lacking of anything and I was 21 I'll tell you this story I was 21 years old before I knew you could buy a dead chicken. Because [Laughter] all the chickens that I ever ate you know we'd put them in the little box and gave them corn and fattened them up for Saturday and kill him for Sunday. We had chicken every Sunday.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: I wish I was in Cherry now to have some of the meals we had. They made their own bread I didn't know what a loaf of lightening bread-we called it lightening bread. And I didn't know what a loaf when we got some lightening bread that was a real treat. They made biscuits and flat cakes and corn bread and we had molasses on Saturday with white ham. Have you ever heard of white ham?
DH: No--.
DLH: White ham was fat back.
DH: Oh yeah.
DLH: You'd fry the fat back. You was lucky you got some streak of lean if you got a little ham in that.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And we had that every Saturday. We might have been poor but we didn't know it.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: My grandmother was the laundress out at the Canons on Hermitage Road she was the laundress. My aunt was the cook for the Canons' sister in Dilworth and my mother did day's work in various houses.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I remember when I was in the eighth grade I wanted to-I had just graduated from Morgan School then Cherry--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: --I went to Morgan School 1 through 7th and thinking about back then the teachers Ms. Gunn-Floretta Gunn is still living by the way.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I went to her 90-something birthday not too long ago. The teachers rode the bus to school.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was no such thing as automobiles for black folks very few black folks had--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was two automobiles in Cherry one belonged to the bootlegger and one belonged to the undertaker. Alexander-part of the Alexander Funeral Home family lived in Cherry.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So the Alexanders the funeral home had a car and then there was a bootlegger in Cherry who had a car but everybody else you walked everywhere you went and caught the bus. I remember when I-well I remember bus fare was 7 cents.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: It was a real-when we went downtown from Cherry to downtown Charlotte we walked there was no such thing as riding a bus.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: We walked-when I left Cherry to go to Second Ward High School we walked rain, snow, sleet or shine we walked. And school didn't close like they do now we regardless of the weather we went to school and there was no such thing as bussing kids-bussing black kids now white folks had buses but we walked to school. All kind of weather didn't make any difference. But the interesting thing about it enjoyed every moment of it.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Good life did not have any knowledge I did not envy-sometimes when I went to school we went through Thomason Orphan Home there was a fence by Thomason Orphan Home there. Thomason Orphan Home was at Fourth and was bordered by Cecil Street and was bordered by the Creek-Sugar Creek and it went all the way down to Morehead the Thomason Orphan Home but there was a-there was a pass through the Thomason Orphan Home farmland that you could get from Cherry to Brooklyn going through the path and then there was a path and then there was a pipe over the creek and there was some rocks in the creek. You either walked the pipe or walked the rocks or comb the pipe. You ever heard of comb the pipe?
DH: I don't know--.
DLH: That means you could walk but you could sit on it--.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: And you could slide over the pipe and it you got scared you just comb the pipe. You didn't care if it was raining or not if you wanted to get to Brooklyn you either walk the pipe-if its raining you couldn't walk the rocks because the creek was over the rocks. So you either walk the pipe or comb the pipe.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: You had the one or two later they built the bridge down at the lower end where Baxter Street crosses to Sugar Creek now. There's a swinging bridge down there and I never will forget it many, many years ago some kids was on the swinging bridge playing and the swinging bridge broke and about 7 or 8 kids were drowned in Sugar Creek.
DH: [Gasps]
DLH: It was no big thing about-nobody got upset then but the families were.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But the city of Charlotte didn't get upset about that bridge broke kids had no business on the bridge.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Many, many years later they put a wrecker bridge across there at Baxter Street but it was growing up in Charlotte it was growing up in a segregated life.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Very, very early though and I don't know I'm rambling probably you probably want me to stay on track.
DH: You just tell what you need to.
DLH: When I got to 8th grade I was getting ready to tell you I was wanting to play in the band and a drum a snare drum cost 20 dollars-18 dollars.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I went to my mother and wanted her to buy a drum and my mother at that time was making 20 dollars a week she was going 5 days a week and doing day's work and she was making twenty dollars a week.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I wanted her to buy me a drum and she wouldn't do it and I thought she was the meanest person in the world and didn't understand.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: You know she made twenty and I didn't want the whole thing I only wanted 18. And I remember I thought she was mean. Probably one of the best things she ever did to me was not buying that drum because I don't know when I would have done anything being tied up in the band.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: But one the things I can go back and say for my early life in Morgan School we had committed dedicated teachers. I had a speech impediment.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I studied like you wouldn't believe I couldn't get out of ( centers ) without studying. We had dedicated committee teachers that really cared about the students. They wanted to make sure you got the things that you needed in school. And they would-if you acted up in school and they beat you they'd call home and your mamma would beat you. And it was a-and if you do things in the community and some of the people on the street saw you doing things they would beat you when your mamma come home in the evening they'd tell her what you doing and she'd beat you. So it was take a village to raise a kid. I mean I grew up in--.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: And there was nothing-I thought it was wrong I thought it was bad when I was growing up but looking back on it there was nothing wrong.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: My grandmother was a real strong female what my grandmother said you didn't put to no discussion it went. You did it my mother did it my aunt did it and the kids did it. You didn't question my grandmother. If she said-when it thundered and lightning she had this theory if it was thundering and lightning you pull out all the shades you turn off the radio and you sit quiet. So if the thunder went "boom" you came in the house, you pulled down all the shades and you stayed there until whenever she thought the storm was over. Then she'll let you out of the house then. Now you might have to sit there an hour you just heard one thunder but if she said "Come in and sit down" everybody came in. We had a dog named Jim and Jim was a house dog. Jim was an Eskimo Spitz.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And they would take Jim out to walk him in the evenings but Jim was a house dog but it started thundering and lightning. My grandmother believed that dogs drew lightening so she put Jim out on the back porch. [Laughter]
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: And poor Jim was scared of thunder and lightning he was crying like you wouldn't believe it but she thought dogs drew lightening so Jim had to suffer through a thunderstorm. But anyway it was a good life. Then I got out of high school--I grew up and went to high school.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Tried to get the drum, my momma didn't buy this drum. I went to-I never felt walking past Central High School on a real bad day, on a real bad day it was raining and sleeting you didn't go through the path or the tunnel off of Helm you came out and walked down Fourth Street from Alexander Street. You walked down Fourth Street to go to-to come to Cherry.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And Central High School was on District Avenue a block over.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I never in my life passed Central High School and wished I could go to Central High School. I never even-that was the farthest thing from my mind. I never even wanted to go to Central I never even thought about "Why am I passing this school going to Second Ward" never thought about it.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was a boy scout in my early days made Eagle Scout later on but in my early days we went to Little Rock Church. Little Rock Church where they made the Cultural Center now on Myers and Seventh Street so we walked from Cherry to Little Rock Church every Sunday and for any little activity they had at the Little Rock Church we walked. And I was in the scout troop there and it was on Friday we had a scout meeting on Friday afternoons 4:30. So we would walk from Cherry I would come home from school we'd walk from Cherry down Cecil Street past Central High School on the side and Central's football field was behind and had two gates one right behind Central High School and one up close to Cecil Street.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And we'd be walking past the football field and there'd be nobody on the football field. We'd be walking past the football to go to the scout meeting and then we'd come back and we'd be throwing a football or something a little football a tin can we'd be playing. And sometimes we'd go on the football field and be throwing the can on the football--catching it like we were playing real football.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Because their field was mopped off we didn't have that in Cherry. And the police was called the police would see us going in the fence and at that time two policemen always rode in the car together.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And there was no such thing as a black policeman and they had these big old fat white policemen. And they would come in the gate when they saw us and they'd take out their billy sticks to beat us. And they knew that there was a gate down at the end but they would come in the gate both of them would come in the gate and take out their billy stick and we weren't 12 13 years old.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: They'd take out their billy sticks to catch us on the playground and beat us and we'd run out the other gate and we'd run to Cherry. Get in the crowd there and they wouldn't know who--.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: They were too dumb to know you send one in one gate and one the other gate and you've got them.
DH: Yeah. [Laughter]
DLH: But they're dumb and we used to laugh about that you know. We did that we-it was fun and we did it often and we knew we weren't supposed to do it but we never really thought about it. I guess my-the early childhood life well I went to when I got up to the 9th or 12th grade we used to cut grass in the summertime we had a push lawnmower and we'd go out to Eastover and cut grass and they'd give us 25 cents to cut the yard and 25 cents that was good money. So when I was in about the 9th or 10th grade I went to a restaurant on the corner of Fourth and Torrence Street and there was a restaurant there called Ringside.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: It was run by some greeks Stavrakas was their name they were just moving in from Kenosha, Wisconsin. I know that now I didn't know that then.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I asked them if they needed help and I was probably 14 years old and one of the men there said "Yeah we need somebody to take out the garbage in the evenings after school so you if come by here" and they-I think they gave me something like 30 cents a day to come in and empty 5 or 6 garbage cans and sweep up the outside. But for some reason the family took a liking to me.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And there were 3 boys Richard, Bobby and Kenny Stavrakas they were the 3 young boys. The place was owned by Nick Stavrakas and Nina Stavrakas was Nick's wife and they were fresh to the South from Kenosha, Wisconsin so they weren't tied up in this segregation stuff.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And so I think during the school year I worked as a--cleaning emptying the trash cans and then during the summer they said "Well why don't you come down and you can clean rest rooms and spend a little more time." So I did that and then for some reason you know it was right after the-I don't remember what happened but you couldn't--good beer you couldn't get so the Stavrakas' had bought a lot of beer and had it stored out in their garage over in Myers Park so one day they said "Will you help us go to my house and load this thing up with beer and bring it back to the restaurant." So I went over there and got the rest out and started messing around with the youngest son.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Who was in the kitchen the youngest son Bobby Stavrakas was in the kitchen and he's in the army reserves just getting out of the army with the paratroopers so for some reason I was probably then about 15 and he was about 19 so we was almost in the same vintage in age and he was very playful and we'd go out and throw football and all together. So for some reason we picked up so more and more they started letting me do more things in the restaurant so I started learning how to cook with Bobby.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Because Bobby wanted me in the kitchen and it was kind of an unreal relationship that was established there as a young boy. Now a lot of people came in the restaurant with prejudices held and they would say something like--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "What that nigger doing in the kitchen?" And they'd say "Wait a minute now he's not bothering you so there's no reason for you to bother him. Leave him alone he ain't bothering you if you're going to deal that way then you leave because he's not bothering you." One time I was sitting on the counter and this was long before integration, long before integration and I was sitting on the counter one day talking to Kenny. Kenny was kind of a big white man.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And Kenny was teaching me how to play chess and it was-it was probably 2:30 or 4 o'clock in the afternoon and nobody was in the restaurant so Kenny was sitting closer to the door and we were at the end of the bar of the restaurant and I was sitting beside him. He was showing me how to somebody came in wanted something and Kenny was-told me "Go back and give it to him." Hell he's the boss I went behind the counter and got the pie or whatever the man ordered and put it on the thing.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And the person whoever it was "That nigger serving me?" And Kenny didn't change his expression sitting on the counter he said "Well you can leave" he didn't change his expression he didn't look at him he didn't do anything he didn't get up he didn't apologize he didn't do anything he just said "You can leave."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And the man got up and left. I went back to the bar and he said "OK you see this move" like nothing had never happened. Nothing had never happened. So that was an unusual relationship so--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I grew up and it was kind of like an extended family with them.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Bobby had 9 kids all of them was born while I was there working at the restaurant.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And his first boy I helped with his geometry because they were Catholics they were big time Catholics I helped him with his geometry when he was in Catholic High.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: That boy has a PhD now in mathematics and he teaches down at UNC Charlotte. Nick Stavrakas he's been out there for a number of years.
DH: Oh OK.
DLH: So that family I've known for a while.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: So that's kind of a side story.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: To my life. The environment that I really saw the segregated part of.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Was at that restaurant.
DH: Yes.
DLH: But the people who owned the restaurant didn't deal.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: They weren't running out front you know ringing no bells but when you were in the restaurant you would act like they--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: They were devout Catholics and you know they-things went right for them and if you were-if I was there you know if it was just one of those things I was there.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Not that I was a member of their family or anything but it was just--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: You know people were going to be treated like people when they're there.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I never will forget when I went-I'm going and spending too much on them but when I was in college I was working at this restaurant and I went to college at Johnson C. Smith and I worked in the restaurant at night and went to college in the day and I was talking to Kenny about I was dating somebody and I found out the woman was married that was I was trying to date.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: At school and her husband was a coach or something a coach. So on this particular night black folks could come to the restaurant and order in the back or they could come to the back inside and order at the counter.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So this guy came in to the back where I was in the kitchen came into the back and I said to him "Hi Coach how are you doing?" Because I knew the guy.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And Kenny heard me call him "Coach" Kenny was a big guy the place was busy and Kenny heard me call him "Coach" and he came back to the back and I couldn't understand why are you? This black man is back here why are you standing back here? It didn't make sense because he had never done anything like that the man got what he wanted and paid and left and Kenny said "OK I'll see you" and I said "Kenny why are you back here?" He said "You called that man 'Coach'" and I said "Yeah" and he said "Didn't you say something about you somebody you were talking to and found out they were married and their husband was a coach?" And I said "Yeah but that's not the guy" and he said "Well I didn't know that."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: You know it was that--.
DH: Yeah the closeness.
DLH: Caring attitude and he heard it just in the conversation but anyway I went to Johnson C. Smith and when I went to Johnson C. Smith I didn't have any money at all. I got a 50 dollar scholarship from campus. Smith when I started was 160 dollars for the first semester.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I got 50 dollars from Kaplin and then I went on the installment plan.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: You could pay the rest by the month yeah by so much a month. And my mother was quite supportive my mother is dead when I-well I graduated high school in '51.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Started Smith in '50-September of '51.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And went to Smith my mother was probably making at most 30 dollars a week she was still doing day's work. I went to Smith for two years.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And went crazy with the open life and decided I was going to punch out of school and do something different my mamma was not going to support me.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I wasn't doing right because I had been on the honors society at Second Ward and graduated with honors from Second Ward and while I was Smith I messed it up. So I joined the army.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Stayed in the army two years and came back. And went back to Johnson C. Smith still stayed in Cherry. At that time Cherry again integration had started.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Integration had started but you still couldn't eat in white restaurants you-there was a little more freedom. There were no restrooms downtown for black folks.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Women could go to the restroom in Cresses. Cresses was a dime store downtown on the square.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: If you were male you couldn't go to the restroom. There was an arcade on-on East Trade Street. You know where the old civic center and train--?
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was an arcade probably right at the before you got to the train track that went from Trade Street to Fifth Street and in that arcade I don't know what you know-if you ever heard of an arcade or not.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: It was just kind of a one street-you could get a car in there but you couldn't get two cars.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And there was walking room.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And there were some black businesses in there. There was a barber shop in there might have been a dry cleaners in there.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was a shoe shine probably in there that you could go to the-if he was male you could go to that arcade and go to the bathroom or you had to go all the way to Brooklyn which was Brevard Street.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: To go to the bathroom you couldn't go to the bathroom downtown. There was a big fish market right down at the corner where the bus garage is now.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was the Charlotte Fish Market and Big Fish Market black folks in there all the time but there was no restrooms in there for black folks.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: There was restrooms for white folks I never will forget but you got used to the idea and you-you know I don't understand all of the years that I grew up in Charlotte now I married a lady who lived in-a young girl who lived in Billingsville over on Davis Avenue.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I caught the bus from Davis Avenue, changed at the square and went to Cherry any number of times during my early teenage years and never thought about going to the bathroom.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Because there was no where to go to the bathroom.
DH: Right.
DLH: You know you never-and then when you see this bus garage down there now and they got rest rooms in there.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And places you can go and you say "How did I make it during those years?"
DH: Hmm. [Laughter]
DLH: But anyway I came back from the army things were beginning to look up I went to Smith and completed my degree in '57.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Schools were still segregated.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: My first job offer was at a little town called Zibli, North Carolina.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was supposed to go there I majored in math as a football coach and a math teacher. Never played any sports in my life but wanted to be a football coach and a math teacher. And the guy who was the director of Carver College which was the black counterpart of Charlotte College.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Which Charlotte College is now UNC.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was going Raleigh when I was going up there and he knew the principal and he said "Well I gotta go to Raleigh for a meeting" said "I'll take you. You can ride up there with me and I'll introduce you to that principal and kind of if I introduce you to the principal you're almost sure to get the job."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "So I'll just introduce you to the principal I know him" and he was almost positive he could get me a job and he took me up there. Interesting thing he said he met-the man's name was Cruz.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And we went through Raleigh and his meeting was at 1 o'clock and I think I had the interview with this man about 10 and at that time let me back up at that time when you left Charlotte going to Raleigh.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: There was no 85 there was 29 or you could go 49. When you go 49 there was no such thing as going to the restroom.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Except on 49 just before you got to Pittsboro there was a little SO service station on your right just before you got into Pittsboro its still out in the rural area.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: That had a SO service station and you could stop there and buy gas and then you could go around to the back-.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And they had one toilet for black females and males you could go to this toilet.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Now there was no heat in there.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: There was no light in there there was nothing but a commode in there.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But if you had to go to the bathroom you'd stop there and you went to the bathroom. And I made that trip to Raleigh many number of times but anyway I went there and I met Cruz. And Dr. Brown said to Cruz you know this-and Dr. Brown had been my high school biology teacher at Second Ward.
DH: OK.
DLH: And he said to Cruz "You know I've known this young boy all his life he's a good person for you" and he said to Cruz "That if I ever get an opening in Charlotte I'm going to bring him back to Charlotte."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: And he and Cruz laughed about it and I talked to Cruz and Brown went down the hallway or somewhere and I talked to Cruz at school and Cruz said "Well you sound good and I think in a few days we'll be sending you a contract." Well then I went to this meeting with Ed Brown at the Board of Education on-I can't remember-the many times I've been there but anyway I sat in the back and they went through their business. We came home and I told Ed what the man said that he thought he was going to give me a contract and Ed said "You know-." I'm calling Ed now.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: He said "Don't worry about it" he said "He'll probably give you a contract" so I came in and sure enough the man sent me a contract.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was so happy I had a job just out of college I had a job.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I called Dr. Brown and I said "Dr. Brown you're right the man sent me a contract" and he said "Wait a minute I just had a resignation for a math teacher" and he said "I may try to get you here" and I said "Well this man sent me a contract" he said "Well you got a few days" so this was probably on something like a Tuesday. That Wednesday I got a phone call he said to me "Can you come over to Carver at 3:30 I want you to talk to Dr. Garinger."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I went over Dr. Garinger was coming out down the steps and Dr. Brown was talking to him and I came up and he said "Dr. Garinger this the man I was talking about" and Dr. Garinger looked at me and said "Well what's your plan boy? What are you planning to do?"
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: He said "Are you planning on continue your schooling?" I said "Yeah I'd like to get a Masters degree in math" he said "Do you think you can do that?" I said "Yeah" and he said "OK it's alright with me."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: He said "OK then you got the job."
DH: Wow.
DLH: Then I said I don't believe it and then I'm thinking wait a minute now I have two jobs.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: I got two jobs and I said to Dr. Brown "Now Dr. Brown what am I going to do with this Dr. Cruz thing?" and he said "Well come on here and we'll call him" he said "I'll call him" so he called him and talked to him. So I went to work at Carver as a math teacher.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: With a Bachelors degree and they were teaching nothing but general mathematics.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: The first summer I worked for a year I was making 330 dollars a month.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I brought home 256 dollars a month.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: The apartment I was living in for me and my wife was 56 dollars a month.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I never will forget so I had 200 dollars to do anything else we needed.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Thought that was a whole lot of money.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: But then I had to go to summer school I had to save money to go to summer school and we didn't get paid during the summer.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So that 300 dollars a month turned out to be about 2,700 dollars a year so you had to do everything you had to do with it. But anyway let me move on so anyway I made it.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Then I went to AU one summer the first summer I went to AU.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: In math pure mathematics oh let me back up.
DH: Atlanta University right?
DLH: Let me back up came back from the army and I got to tell you this. This is interesting.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: My wife's sister was my 8th grade math teacher.
DH: Oh.
DLH: Yeah this is-my wife's sister was my 8th grade math teacher I started dating and trying to talk to my wife in about the 10th grade. I met my wife down on Campus Street skating one Christmas.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: That's where black folks went to skate they didn't have no skating ring we went down to Campus Street right in front of Johnson C. Smith one block off of Beatties Ford Road.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: About two blocks black folks would go down there and skate. Met my wife down there and started talking to her and tried to date her but she wasn't taking company so we'd talk on the telephone. But her sister who was-taught math at Second Ward found out I was trying to talk to her sister.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And her sister saw me in the hallway one day and pulled me over and said "Boy if I ever catch you doing anything wrong at this school I'm going to turn you in and I will be the first to see that you get punished and punished dearly for anything."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: And I was afraid of her sister I was afraid of her sister. But anyway I later married her sister in college well when I went to the army. I married her sister when I was in the army.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: When I came out of the army and went back to Johnson C. Smith and I started out at Smith and majored in math.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: When I came back from the army I wasn't sure what I wanted to do I was married we didn't have any kids and I said "Well I've got to get this education I might change my major" I was talking to my wife and I said "Margaret I don't know what I'm going to do I think I might change my major this math is going to kill me I'll never get out of school."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Somehow my wife was talking to her sister and said to her sister that I wasn't going to major in math and my sister bless her heart told my wife "I didn't think he was smart enough to major in math anyway" my wife came back--.
DH: Aww.
DLH: And she said you know she didn't even tell me she didn't think you were smart enough to major in math and [ding-ding-ding-ding]. Things went up.
DH: You were going to prove it.
DLH: Come hell or high water. It got in my mind that I was going major in math. Jenny had a masters in math education.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And that was the degree many, many years ago math education. And I made it in my mind when that lady when Margaret told me that I was going to get more than her sister.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I went to AU and majored in pure mathematics and all the courses all the 60 something hours I got as a pure mathematics.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: That motivated me like you wouldn't believe and her sister did that for the purpose of motivating.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: Her sister wasn't no dummy she knew that you know if I tell this fool he can't do it then he'll do it so.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: So I did it but anyway I went to AU and that first summer and I had a professor named Lenny Cross who had a PhD out of Cornell at 23 years old I think it was.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Smartest man I've ever seen in my life. For some reason he thought I had some sense and he encouraged me to come back the next summer so I went back the next summer and I took these 9 hours of math and then the tuition rate at AU. The tuition rate and room and board for AU was something like 325 dollars for 9 weeks. Room and board and tuition I went to AU with 350 dollars 20 dollars over to last me for 9 weeks while I was at school. That's all the money I had that's all the money I had because the little bit of money I saved was taking care of the wife we didn't have any kids then.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And that second summer I did pretty well at school and this guy named Lenny Cross told me "Well maybe I can get you a scholarship" he said "I can't get you a National size but I may be able to get you a teacher's assistanceship and may be able to get you able to get you an assistanceship in the math department if you want to come for a year."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: We didn't have any babies Margaret wasn't pregnant and I said "Well let me talk to my wife I think I might do that this would solve some time for me." Went home and talked to Margaret about it and she said this might be a good idea. This was in some schooling in August I would ride that old Greyhound bus down to Charlotte.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: 9 dollars or something for a bus ticket. Came back to Charlotte and she said "Good idea" and I'd be doggone before the next summer Margaret was pregnant.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: So here I am with this supposedly scholarship--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And the scholarship would pay my tuition and my room and board and then I got 200 a month to teach be a teacher's assistant at Morehouse.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I could send 200 dollars back to Charlotte to take care of my wife and my room and board was paid so I didn't--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I could make it because I got room and board but it was hell trying to make it. I had no money my mamma would send me 5 dollars every now and then and then they'd send me a care package with some sardines and some crackers.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: But you know I met a guy down at AU his name was Lindsay Johnson smartest man in the world all A student. He went to University of California on a full scholarship for a PhD.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So anyway I made it through AU got the degree and came back to Carver was teaching at Carver by that time Carver had changed to Mecklenburg College.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And when they built-when they left Second Ward High School with Carver College and moved to off of 85 to the new Carver College they changed the name to Mecklenburg College.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Because they didn't want the name of a new school after a black person so they changed-and Dr. Martin had filed suit against the school system not to build that school because it should be integrated. Judge Susie Shaw judigated that case and she threw it out of court.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And they built Mecklenburg College on Beatties Ford Road and they built Charlotte College out on 49. That must have been in probably '59. '58 '59 when Charlotte College was built and Mecklenburg College was built. So I went up there and started teaching math there and during that period of time that was during Dorothy Counts and all of the school they started to integrate. Dorothy Counts was catching hell down at Harding. Everything was going.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Integration was trying to set in and people were mean as hell. But we were in a segregated school out here on 85 and it lasted from about '59 to about '62 they decided to integrate the schools.
DH: Uh-hmm.
DLH: Charlotte College had then wanted to be a full year and they started adding Bonnie Cone.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: Bonnie Cone was the president.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was teaching math up at--up at Carver College and the handwriting was on the wall they were going to close Carver College and they didn't take too many black teachers into the white schools. They were going to close Carver College and move Carver College down to the central industrial educational center which was the old Central High School.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And disband Carver the student's could go either place they wanted to. So I took a job with the public school system. I applied and got a job with the public school system. And the director of Carver a guy named Jim Alexander a black fellow was talking to Bonnie Cone about it. And Bonnie Cone and I were on a first name basis.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Bonnie Cone had called me and she had the sweetest voice. She said "David what's this I hear that you have done?"
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: I said "Look you're getting ready to cut my job."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "I need a job I've got two kids now I need a job."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "I would like to stay in Charlotte. Just bought this little house."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "Bought it where I bought it because the school was where it was and I need a job." She said "I tell you what, don't take that job." I thinking wait a minute you've got to be on something this is Charlotte Mecklenburg School System you don't turn down a job in the Charlotte Mecklenburg School System.
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: She said "Don't take that job" she said "I'll assure you that you have a job." Now Miss Bonnie could walk on water.
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: No ifs, ands or buts Bonnie Cone could walk on water. So I said "OK tell you what I'll do. You write a letter resigning me from this job."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: "And I'll write a letter resigning me from this job."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: "And then I'll stay." So she said "I'll do that." So Bonnie wrote a letter to superintendent and after I got a copy of her letter I wrote a letter.
DH: Yeah [Laughter].
DLH: I went back to work at Carver. But that was the year that was real shaky, real shaky.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: You would never know when you went to work whether you were going to be there the next quarter or not.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: If they were going to close it. I went to work and it was--it must have been close to the spring of the year. And I was giving a test that evening but I went back to counting that day about 3:00 to copy my test. And Hegemeyer drove into the campus as I was coming out he didn't know me I didn't know him.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: He went in the office where the director was. I didn't think he knew me. I went in the office--upstairs where my thing was and finished my test.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I had a class at 5:30 so I needed to get my work done. So I got in my office and the phone rung. Now nobody in their right mind that knows I'm in school--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: --would be calling me. So it was the director Jim Alexander he said "Dr. Hegemeyer wanted to talk to you." I said "That man doesn't know me from Adam."
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: I said "Well look I'm almost through give me ten minutes and I'll be down to the office."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I have to run it off. Went down there Dr. Hegemeyer said "I understand you are David Hunter and I've heard good things about you. Would you like to come to CPCC?"
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I said "Yes I'd like to come to CPCC." He said "You have a master's degree?" I said "No not quite I need my foreign language. I need to complete my foreign language. And I plan to go back and take the foreign language this summer." I said "That's the thing holding out." He said "Well I tell you what if you complete the foreign language then you have the job at CP".
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I said "Now suppose I don't complete the foreign language." He said "Then you don't have a job."
DH: [Laughter] Hmm.
DLH: So I back to AU that summer. I have resigned this job from Charlotte Mecklenburg School System.
DH: Burned your bridges.
DLH: And I'm here talking to this man I've got this job at CP. So I went down to AU and instead of just taking language I took 3 more math--2 more math courses
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And this Language course so make my mind focus on staying in school and pass this course. While I was down there I kept getting calls from CPCC "What textbook you want to use and blah, blah, blah." And I kept corresponding back and forth to them. In fact even to the point of going to the guy in the math department and said "I don't have enough money to mail this letter."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: "Will you mail this letter for me?" you know and so we--so I passed the exam and came back and showed him the piece of paper that I had my master's degree. And he said "Well the next day you come to work."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Interesting fact I went--they closed--when I went to AU for the summer they closed Mecklenburg. Disbanded the school.
DH: During that summer.
DLH: They took Jim Alexander as a counselor, they took the librarian, they took Dora Johnson, and secretary science teacher. No other person went.
DH: Oh.
DLH: I wasn't there yet because I was still in school.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So when I came back I was the fourth people out of about 15 that they took.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I was the only one in the subject matter content--Dora Johnson was in secretary of science she is going to deal with all female. I'm in mathematics I'm going to deal with everybody. So they weren't sure how this was going to work out. So the interesting thing I went to work probably after two or three days after I got back to Charlotte. Been in the segregated schools all my life.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I'm walking in and white folk looking at me like "What are you doing in here?"
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So I go into Fred Struthers office and I did not know Fred Struthers. Fred Struthers was a dean that they had brought in since Hegemeyer had talked to me to be hired.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And he had two words "yup" and "nope" that was the extent of his vocabulary. END OF TAPE 1 SIDE A. START OF TAPE 1 SIDE B.
DLH: "Yup" he said "Let me go over here and talk to Dick."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So he went across the hall and Dr. Hegemeyer came out. He said "Oh yeah, yeah you're ready" and said "Well we have an office for you down the hall." I went into the office and nothing but a desk. He said "Go up to the supply room and get what you need."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I went up to the supply room and like I usually would go at Carver College and make my list.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I said "I need a couple of red pencils" because I grade with red pencils.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "I need a couple of black--two or three black ball point pens and a blue one. And give me a few sheets of eight and a half by eleven paper, a tablet eight and a half by eleven and give me some of the longer sheets. Give me some of the longer sheets."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And the lady looked at me and said "Well you're going to have to come back and get this." And hell all I wanted was--and I thought "Gee that's nasty."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: When I went downstairs in Carver College said the secretary went over.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: "Here's a few sheets, here's this, here's that."
DH: Yeah.
DLH: And you didn't have to come back. So I didn't know any better I left. Went back to the office and after lunch I went back and I said "Can I get my stuff now?" The lady said "We're going to have to call somebody to take it to you." "What do you mean call someone to take it to me?" She said "There it is over there." She had about two boxes of red pencils, two or three boxes of black pencils I mean the boxes with 2 or 3 boxes in them because I asked for two or three.
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: She had two or three packs of tablets, four or five reams of paper.
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: And I'm just like "Wait a minute lady."
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: It was so unreal. I am used to going--and I asked for some chalk a couple of pieces of chalk. I got these two big boxes of chalk.
DH: [Laughter].
DLH: I mean you know-she didn't understand.
DH: Oh wow.
DLH: She had this little sheet that she had wrote the stuff wrote down with.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And she said "Check and see if this is what you ordered."
DH: Oh wow.
DLH: It was so unbelievable.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: That all my time in the black institute we didn't have none of that stuff in the storage room.
DH: You didn't have-yeah-everybody hmm.
DLH: And it's the old storage room that the lady had said on the-then it dawned on me why she said I had to come back.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: And I took my time--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: To get this stuff up. And then they called the maintenance man with a hand truck and they took it down in the office.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I came out and went home I said "Margaret you're not going to believe this."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And I said "This is so unreal."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So in a few weeks-well after that shock of my life-in a few weeks-and after I tell you this you can go. In a few weeks classes started and well you know I was walking home going back and forth and at that time at registration day we registered them for one day and every employee was in the library and we registered all the students from 8 to 5 and registration was closed.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: We had one day after registration and the next day was class. My classroom was directly across from Dr. Hegemyer's office.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Dr. Johnson's classroom was upstairs secondary sign. My classroom was directly-so that morning I went to work and got in with Camel in chemistry and he said "OK its time to go to class" and I said "I don't need anybody telling me its time to go to class" he said "We're going to go in and pretend we're going to teach this class together" he said "Come on we'll just go in there and tell them we're a tag team." I went in there and there were 25 or 30 students sitting there all white most of them male most of them female and we work it up I go along with the program I don't know what's going on. He said told them "My name is Wayne Camel and we're going to teach this class together-Hunter call the roll" and I called the roll. And you know nothing going on just normal class time.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I called the roll and he said "You go ahead and start it" so he sat on the side and I took off like a fat bird.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Nothing happened you know. No-you know they asked questions and I did some things on the board. Wayne Camel'd say "Where'd you get that from?" [Laughter] you know he's a chemistry major.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: So I went out and class ended and then the next hour the next class I went in by myself.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But all my classes was right across from the president's office. Figured if anything had happened you know help was on the way everything was planned nothing, nothing ever happened. And I was there teaching probably the second or third week I was there. And the-Hegemyer's office was there and they had a bunch of folks from this department of community colleges standing outside his office waiting for me to come out of the class.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Class ended I walked out it was normal but the kids walked out with me and we're talking and discussing and these people from the state department had their mouth open "What the hell is going on here?" this is regular routine. And what's the guy's name? I don't know who he was but he said to Hegemyer you know "Can you get him to come over here?" and Hegemyer said "No you know he's got to do what he's got to do."
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: "And when he finishes you know he'll go down to his office and we'll go in there and get him" you know so we went through that. And everything went perfect I thought I was accepted at CP with the students and faculty with CP.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And there was one boy they hired named Ross Shurliss in Spanish-French and Spanish he's a Canadian he's still in Charlotte he's one of those people who still maintain his Canadian citizenship but he's been in Charlotte a hundred years.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Anyway they employed him and they was trying to find him an office.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And he came down the hall and there I was in this little cubicle by myself and he said "Hey you want a roommate?" Boy must be crazy and he said "Can I room with you for awhile?" I said "I don't care" we have developed a lifelong friendship.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And then one day I was walking down the hall and the white group was out there standing because I was the-for the first couple years I was the only black instructor. And I was the only black instructor in the transfer program they had a program--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I dealt with all the students you know. So I was walking down the hall one day and this group of white instructors and councilors was standing around this Monday morning and I came up to the crowd and they was talking about this party they had had over the weekend.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And when I got to the crowd they stopped talking about it. They started talking about something else. Well Rob had told me about this party he had been to.
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: So I went there and I said "You all don't have to stop talking about that party you all didn't invite me to." I said [Laughter] "You know I didn't want to come to that damn party no way."
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: We're kidding and kidding so.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: The parties started opening up you know the parties started opening up. And not only did the parties start opening up on their time they started coming to my house for parties.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So I just-at that period of time we had an excellent relationship with-I went to Raleigh with a group of fellows when I first got to CP and we went the back way 49.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And there's a barbeque place called The Brewman's Caf?, The Brewman's Caf? on 49 an old place.
DH: Yes.
DLH: All the white folks going from Charlotte to Raleigh stop at the Brewman's Caf?.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I've seen it on the side of the road for a hundred years.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: Never got hungry when I got there just kept on passing because it was segregation.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: Never wanted there. This year we was going it was the first year I was at CP in the summer they had a departmental community college meeting at State and all the instructors all went to State for this meeting.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So I had to go to State for this meeting so I went with these white folks up there.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And they got to the Brewman's Caf? and they said "We're going to stop for barbeque." I broke out in a cold sweat. I did not want to stop.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I had never been in there and this was my first year integration just started.
DH: Yes.
DLH: This is out there in the boondocks. Brewman's Caf? I didn't want that. So they didn't ask me they just pulled the car in and said "Come on let's go."
DH: Hmm.
DLH: So I went in the Brewman's Caf? and I tell you what I was really frightened.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: This was out in the boondocks next to the boondocks.
DH: Uh-huh yeah.
DLH: When I would pass there you would see truckers and all that.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I have to tell you a story about that but anyway I went in there and the lady came up and said "Can I help you all?" And she never even paid any attention to me so I mean we got out so this one guy-this guy who had majored in chemistry was with me he said "Now do you feel better now that you're out of there?" I said "Man you don't know" he said "I knew you were scared."
DH: Yeah.
DLH: So you know everything went perfect I've served on a lot of committees as the only black person I served on the joint transfer committee for mathematics that--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: --had members on it from North Carolina State and Duke and Wake Forest and I was the only black there representing the community college.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was on the Southeastern Mathematic Association vice president of that the only black in the organization.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So in the end results when I got in there and started moving around it worked out. I jumped around but during the time that the sit-in demonstration started--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was at AU that year I was at AU.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So they had timed this that we were going to shut down Atlanta at 12 o'clock this particular day in the cafeteria. We must have had from AU, Spelman, Morris Brown, Morehouse we must have had 500 people going to eat in cafeterias at 12 o'clock.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So it was all orchestrated everybody at a certain time you went to this area in a certain time everybody was supposed to go into various cafeterias.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I was with a group and most of the people in my group was from AU.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And most of the people in my group was from the math department at AU. We went into this big cafeteria oh it was plush. And everybody in the cafeteria had on shirts and ties or military uniforms captains, majors, etc.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: We went in the cafeteria long line snaking around to the serving line. By the time we got to-and they--nothing had happened.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: To the time we got almost to the serving line we had been in there probably 20 minutes.
DH: Oh.
DLH: The clientele began to change you saw workmen with work belts on with hammers and hatchets and--.
DH: Oh.
DLH: And big tools on it they-who was out of place in this place that we went.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I was with this guy named Lindsay Johnson I told you he's the smartest fellow now with non-violence you're going to let them stay there and let the police you know put you out.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And we looked behind-we almost got to the serving line looked behind the counter and there were nothing back there but black folks but the clientele had started to change.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I looked at Lindsay and I said "Lindsay what on earth are we gonna do? Do you see those people in here?" He said "I'll tell you what if stuff breaks" he said "We're going to the kitchen to get some help." [Laughter]
DH: [Laughter]
DLH: But by the time we got to the serving line the other half of the line just had real down to earth rednecks in it.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: I mean they were getting ready to do something bad. By the time we got to the serving line I bet you 8 or 10 colors of policemen showed up. Highway patrol, regular policemen.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And they closed down the restaurant.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And they put us out like we thought they asked us to leave "If you don't leave you're going to be arrested." Now we wouldn't go.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And they said "Well the restaurant is closed" so we started to go now they didn't go these rednecks they didn't go away they formed a group outside. But the police didn't go away either.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: They followed us to the bus stop we got on the bus they followed the bus to downtown Atlanta.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: When we got to downtown Atlanta it was swarming with police because it must have been 500 of us.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And all of us close to places downtown and it was swarming with police. And we went past Peskas. Peskas was a well known restaurant down--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: We went to Peskas and closed Peskas for dinner then-for lunch that day. So we were satisfied and places were integrated.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I guess you told me to talk and I've talked do you have any particular questions? I was going through any number of things but some of the--let me give you my gut feeling.
DH: OK.
DLH: I grew up in an integrated society through high school and college. And I've lived in-I grew up in a segregated.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And I've lived in an integrated and I see some good and I see some bad in both.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I didn't know what I was going through when I was growing up in a segregated society and now that I see what I was going through I can't help but be disturbed by it.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But then I look at so much that I gained.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Number one I can truly say through high school, through college, through elementary, high school and college I wasn't the best student in the world but I had teachers who really cared about me as an individual. Just because I might have talked out or pulled some girl's hair or cut class the teacher didn't teach around me the next day. They talked to me the next day. If I had smarted off in the classroom and they sent me to the principal and I got my behind beat when I went back the next day that teacher was just as much interested in me the next day as he was before. They didn't teach around me they talked to me.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And that's why I was able to make it.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And I believe nowadays because of the integration teachers can teach around you.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: By you.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: They don't care about you.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: If you look at-in my opinion now I haven't done any studies on this but look at these black kids in the public school system who has been suspended especially the black males. If I had been in the public school system--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: In that age I would have been suspended. They sent me to the office and beat me and put me back in class.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And then when they put these kids back in class you smarted off to this white instructor they can teach around you, behind you they don't care if you answer the question or not.
DH: Hmm.
DLH: And I'm not laying a blanket on them like that.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But I believe that's happening in a lot of cases that a kid screws up in school and a teacher says "You're no good and I'm not going to bother with you and I'll just teach over your head and keep going." When I was in the black school and I messed up they took my hand and beat my behind and I was the same student.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: That they worked with me to get me through that. And I think we've lost a bit and I'm not saying that all white teachers are bad don't think--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I'm not saying that there's some tremendous ones out there that I work with down at the university down at CP.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: I haven't worked with any in the public school because I haven't been in the public school system but for the life of me I just can't believe that all the kids in public schools are worth that kind of being expelled everyday.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: If I was in-when it came up with integration I went with this blackness and everything's got to be relevant to black folks now that I was teaching mathematics. That's fine but you've got to learn mathematics so you can come in here with all you want to with your hair in the wildest ways that you want to think but I'm in control of this class. And I'm in control of this class and this is the mathematics that I'm going to teach and you're going to listen to this and you can apply in any way you want to but I'm in control of this class.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And you're a student and for the life of me I'm not going to browbeat you because your head got a full bush of hair you've got a whole lot of plants in your hair you're in here for one thing and I'm going to work with your brain not with how you look you know.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: None of us are pretty you're not beautiful you're here for a purpose.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: And that's what you're here for and I believe integration we lost that. Black folks lost that, black folks lost that.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: Not that I'm-not to the great extent that everybody white in the school system is bad no, no there's good people there. But a black kid boy being boyish turning a white teacher off they can go around him.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: And I believe we miss that. If I had to do it over again what would I do? I think because of what I missed in opportunities with real books not used books with supplies and materials that we did not have that I would've probably been smarter than I am now. But I can't hold that against them because they gave me what they had to teach me with and I did it.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: And to this day I might be lacking in some things but--.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: But I have a doctor's degree in education and the only reason I got it in education is because I got out of mathematics and went into administration because I had been in State I had been to Rutgers.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: To do mathematics but then when the tables turned on me for community college I had all the math I was more than enough to deal with what I was dealing with but I didn't have any administrative structure curriculum developing that kind of thing.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: That you're going to be in that area you gotta know something about it.
DH: Yeah.
DLH: I don't need to know English but I need to know how to develop a curriculum that was suitable.
DH: Uh-huh.
DLH: So I had to have some of that knowledge.
DH: So that's--.
DLH: So that's why I--.
DH: Hmm. Well thank you for your time and for sharing your experiences and your stories. Thank you.
DLH: It's been a good life.
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