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Greater than EqualAfrican American Struggles for Schools and Citizenship in North Carolina, 1919-1965$

Sarah Caroline Thuesen

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780807839300

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9781469609706_Thuesen

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(p.xi) Acknowledgments

(p.xi) Acknowledgments

Greater than Equal
University of North Carolina Press

Throughout the process of writing this book, I have wrestled with the dilemma of knowing that I had more stories to tell than any reasonable editor would permit. Nowhere is that more true than in the acknowledgments. These few paragraphs can only begin to convey my gratitude for the many people who have helped with what has truly been a collaborative effort. This book's merits rest on countless shoulders; its shortcomings rest on mine alone.

Several institutions and organizations provided critical financial assistance. I was especially lucky to have the support of a Spencer Foundation Dissertation Fellowship and a National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. In addition to generous stipends, both of these fellowships provided invaluable opportunities to discuss my project with senior and beginning scholars from across the disciplines. Many thanks to James Anderson, Karen Benjamin, Elizabeth Caseio, Michael Clapper, Ruben Flores, Adam Gamoran, Maureen Hallinan, Carl Kaestle, Adam Laats, Dan Lewis, Nancy MacLean, William Reese, Bethany Rogers, Sarah Rose, John Rury, Margaret Beale Spencer, Maris Vinovskis, and Heather Williams for their collegiality and compelling critiques. How fortuitous it was for me that my initial Spencer cohort included Heather Williams and that she subsequently moved to Chapel Hill, where she has inspired me with her work and cheered me with her encouragement.

I was also generously assisted by both a Small and Large Mowry Grant from the University of North Carolina History Department, a Latané Inter-disciplinary Summer Research Grant from the UNC Graduate School, an Archie K. Davis Grant from the North Caroliniana Society, an Albert J. Beveridge Grant from the American Historical Association, and summer research grants from UNC's Center for the Study of the American South and the Rockefeller Archive Center in Tarrytown, New York.

My greatest intellectual debts are to my mentors. At the University of North Carolina, my adviser, James Leloudis, gave me the idea for this project and urged me to dig into the papers of North Carolina's Division of Negro Education. I used his scholarship on southern schools as a critical foundation for my work. Even more important, I first became inspired (p.xii) to pursue a career in history during a college seminar with him. For his early and unwavering confidence in me, as well as his careful reading of many drafts and his countless words of encouragement, I owe him a world of thanks. Jacquelyn Hall has mentored hundreds of students at UNC, but she has the remarkable ability to make each one of us feel at the center of her universe. I am so thankful for her thoughtful reflections on my work, her lessons in the value of oral history, and her many gestures of support and friendship. Several other mentors read this book in its formative stages and merit special thanks: Jerma Jackson, for always asking the toughest questions and for sharing her boundless enthusiasm; Walter Jackson, for steering me to new sources with his encyclopedic command of intellectual and southern history; and Kenneth Janken, for challenging me since my undergraduate days to think critically about the southern past from an African American perspective. Donald Mathews offered cheerful guidance as I designed an early research proposal. A memorable seminar with Robert Korstad at Dulce University immersed me in intellectual literature about life “behind the veil.” For my early training in American history, I am grateful to William Barney, Peter Coclanis, John Kasson, William Leuchtenburg, John Nelson, and Harry Watson.

In this book's early stages, I was quite fortunate to be in writing groups with Melynn Glusman, David Sartorius, Brian Steele, Michele Strong, and David Voelker. I benefited enormously from their friendship and detailed observations. David Sartorius's work on race and loyalty in Cuba was particularly influential in my development of chapter 1. Karin Breuer also served at various moments as a writing companion and has been a consistent source of wit and wisdom.

David Cecelski, William Chafe, and Jerry Gershenhorn graciously gave of their time and read portions of this book. Their collective wisdom on race and education in the South prompted me to ask fresh questions of familiar material. Karl Campbell, Pamela Grundy, Lydia Claire, Malinda Maynor Lowery, and Ken Zogry shared ideas from allied projects. James Anderson, Prudence Cumberbatch, V. P. Franklin, Valinda Littlefleld, and Kate Rousmaniere offered helpful comments on related conference papers. Anne Whisnant was my resident expert on all matters of book production and child rearing (and how to combine the two).

Since beginning this project, I have had the pleasure of working at several institutions. At the University of North Carolina, a semester's work with James Leloudis and George Noblit's study of southern school desegregation gave me a foundation for further exploration of the post-Brown South. During two years of postdoctoral work with UNC's Southern Oral (p.xiii) History Program at the Center for the Study of the American South, I had the privilege of engaging with a broad network of scholars doing similar work. I learned a great deal during that time from David Cline, Jacquelyn Hall, Beth Millwood, and Joe Mosnier about the art of oral history. Joe also shared his deep knowledge of educational litigation in North Carolina-plus bushels of produce from his garden. I was also lucky to be working at that time with Dwana Waugh and Rachel Martin, two fellow historians of education. I am very grateful to students and colleagues at Wabash College, Warren Wilson College, William Peace University, and Guilford College. Having the opportunity to teach this story's broader context enriched my telling of it in many ways. Philip Otterness at Warren Wilson and Stephen Morillo at Wabash deserve special thanks for years of professional encouragement.

Well before I became a historian of the North Carolina public schools, I attended them as a student. Many teachers from those twelve years stand out in my memory, but at St. Stephens High School in Hickory, B. C. Craw-ford, Loyd Hoke, and the late Beth Haunton had a particularly direct and important influence on my later work. I hope that in some small way my work is a tribute to them and the vital role that all teachers play in schooling future citizens.

I am extremely indebted to the many librarians, archivists, and other individuals who shepherded me through a maze of sources. Joe Mobley introduced me as a college student to the North Carolina State Archives, where I later spent many hours researching this project. At the State Archives, Debbi Blake, Kim Cumber, and Earl Ijames were especially diligent in locating sources, as was Elizabeth Hayden at the North Carolina State Library. At UNC'S North Carolina Collection, Robert Anthony, Alice Cotton, Eileen McGrath, Harry McKown, and Jason Tomberlin have supported me since this project's inception. Andre Vann at North Carolina Central University went above and beyond the call of duty in pointing me to sources and connecting me with his network of veteran educators and NCCU alumni. At the administrative offices of the Hickory City Schools, Mary Duquette and Ann Stalnaker were most welcoming, and Ann generously shared research from her dissertation. Lorraine Nicholson granted me access to the papers of the North Carolina Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers. Marsha Alibrandi and Candy Beal shared materials from their oral history project of Ligon Middle School.

Others who helped locate sources and photographs include Jean Bischoff of the G. R. Little Library, Elizabeth City State University; Diana Carey of the Schlesinger Library at the Radcliffe Institute; Janey Deal of (p.xiv) the Patrick Beaver Memorial Library in Hickory; Michael Evans of the Wake County Public Schools; Stephen Fletcher of the North Carolina Collection Photographic Archives; Andrea Jackson of the Woodruff Library Atlanta University Center; Linda Richardson of the Durham Public Library; Tommy Richey of the Raleigh City Museum; Mildred Roxborough of the NAACP; Arlene Royer of the National Archives at Atlanta; Traci Thompson of the Braswell Memorial Library in Rocky Mount; and Helen Wylde of the Ramsey Library UNC-Asheville. I also am thankful for able assistance from the staffs of the Manuscript Division of the Library of Congress; UNC's Southern Historical Collection; the Rockefeller Archives in Tarrytown, New York; and the Special Collections of Perkins Library Duke University.

Some of my most important lessons in history came not in classrooms or libraries but in the homes of people I interviewed. I also made essential use of interviews conducted by others, most of which are housed at the Southern Oral History Program Collection at UNC. All interviews are listed in the bibliography but a few extra words of thanks are in order. The first person I interviewed for this project was Ruth Lawrence Woodson. I am sure that my questions at that stage betrayed my relative inexperience, but she graciously answered each one and inspired me to dig deeper into the history of North Carolina's Division of Negro Education. Also in Raleigh but quite a few years later, Joseph Holt Jr. similarly inspired me, put me in touch with others to interview, and generously shared a wealth of clippings and documents from his personal files. In Hickory, Catherine Tucker invited me for lunch at her home, where she introduced me to other Ridgeview School alumni, all of whom taught me that I had still had a lot to learn about my hometown's history. In Lumberton, Alice Briley and Elizabeth Kemp invited me to attend a reunion of Redstone/Thompson alumni, where I also had the good fortune of meeting Lillian McQueen. I could not have told the story I tell in chapter 5 without their help.

I was so pleased as a historian of North Carolina to have the privilege of working with the University of North Carolina Press, an institution whose own rich history has intersected with my research on more than one occasion. My editor, Chuck Grench, along with Paula Wald and Sara Cohen, promptly and patiently answered many questions and in all respects made this a better book. Ellen Goldlust's expert copyediting improved this book in both style and substance. My thanks to Mary Caviness for proof-reading the page proofs and to Kay Banning for preparing the index. I am also most grateful to the press for enlisting Adam Fairclough and Vanessa Siddle Walker as readers. I have long admired their influential histories of (p.xv) African American education and hope that I have done justice to their insightful suggestions.

My historical curiosity about education no doubt has much to do with being the child of educators. My parents, Mary Wise Thuesen and Theodore Johannes Thuesen, read a draft of this manuscript when they should have been enjoying their retirement, and they have always taken great interest in my interests at every stage of my life. They, of course, were my first teachers and will always be my most important. Peter Thuesen, my brother and fellow scholar of the American past, is already a far more prolific author than I will ever be, and how fortunate for me that this is so. I have shamelessly exploited his expertise on many occasions. He, too, read parts of this manuscript and provided much-needed humor along the way. Also cheering me at every step were members of my extended family, including Sarah Benbow, Mills Bridges, Paula Clarke, Steve Clarke, Sheila Kerrigan, Jane Kenyon, and the late Heidi Salgo.

In writing a book that at its core is about children, I would be especially remiss if I did not give prominent acknowledgment to several first-rate child care providers. While I was writing, Corrie Finger, Leslie Fox, Tulani Hauger-Kome, Janis Leona, and my sister-in-law, Patricia Mickelberry, had the harder—and more important—task. They gave my children the thoughtful attention and me the peace of mind that made this book's final stages possible.

My husband, Scott Clarke, also provided countless hours of child care while I labored on this book, but that was only one of his many contributions. I met him just as this project was beginning, and even though we inhabit very different professional worlds, he has always been my most enthusiastic fan. I will never be able to thank him enough for his love and support. The births of our children, Henry Thuesen Clarke and Ida Caroline Clarke, slowed down the birth of this book in many ways, but in many more ways they have brought me immeasurable joy and deepened my sense of investment in the future of public schooling. It is to them and their generation of schoolchildren that I dedicate this book. (p.xvi)