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In l954, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered states to eliminate racial segregation in public schools with "all deliberate speed." Nonetheless, many all-white school boards in "progressive" North Carolina delayed de jure segregation for decades and condoned elements of de facto segregation that persist today. This intimate study exposes the turmoil that the Court's decision unleashed in the quiet rural community of Camden County. Here brave students, parents, teachers, and principals all tell their fascinating stories, filled with pride, disappointment, humor, and terror. It uncovers a striking gap between black and white memories and raises questions about how we can progress toward an integrated society today.
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Kate Willink is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Human Communication Studies at the University of Denver. Her research focuses on race relations, education, ethnography, and cultural memory. Kate's publications include recent articles in Text and Performance Studies, Cultural Studies, Critical Methodologies, and Communication and Critical/Cultural Studies.Review:
“This book elaborates on the ever-present question of the true impact of school desegregation. The experience of implementing the decision in rural North Carolina is made so real by using oral history interviews with six residents, black and white, who were part of the process. The author has done an amazing amount of research and will set us to thinking again what that decision really accomplished.”--Constance Curry, Author and Activist, Atlanta, Georgia
“Almost as if democracy were a hologram, collective memories on race and public education in the rural south shimmer into new focus. Each individual produces stories that seem detailed and complete--yet there are many such sites in this compelling work on the segregated nature of racial memory and social inequality.”--Carol Stack, Author of Call To Home and All Our Kin
“This is raw, rich, and real. In a fascinating and refreshingly accessible account of place, memory, blackness, and whiteness, Willink skillfully draws out the honest, textured, and often humorous voices of individuals as each reveals, remembers, and reasons diverse--often divergent--lived experiences during desegregation. Students and scholars will benefit from reading this book.”--Karla Slocum, Author of Free Trade and Freedom: Neoliberalism, Place and Nation in the Caribbean
“In this absorbing study, Willink has recorded memories from disparate sectors of the community, probed beneath their surfaces for illuminating insights, employed social theory to provide context, and, as a self-reflective scholar, critiqued her own role and reactions in the oral history process. Her work is a valuable contribution to the histories of civil rights and racial struggles, education, and social change in rural communities.”--Jo Ann O. Robinson,Author of Education as My Agenda: Gertrude Williams, Race, and the Baltimore Public Schools
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