Monday, September 9, 2013

West Charlotte's segregation history makes Retro Report

A 10-minute documentary about the history of court-ordered desegregation and its reversal in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools -- specifically at West Charlotte High  --  went online today as part of the Retro Report, a new documentary news group created to give historic context to issues in the news.

Griffin
"The Battle for Busing"  uses archival news clips and interviews with participants,  especially former school board Chairman Arthur Griffin,  who experienced segregation and desegregation as a student.  As board chair,  Griffin led the court battle to keep race-based student assignment for diversity in place.  After losing that fight,  Griffin says in the documentary,  he decided not to seek election because "I was out of step."

"I said,  'I'll just step aside and I won't try to stop you and we'll see what happens,' "  says Griffin,  who is now an executive with McGraw-Hill Education.

What happened,  in terms of racial composition,  was that West Charlotte went from being viewed as a national model for desegregation  --  "a darling of the national media,"  as the report puts it  --  to reverting to its origins as a black high school. Although no one is assigned by race now,  last year 87 percent of West Charlotte students were black and 2 percent were white  (2013-14 numbers aren't in yet).

Retro Report was created with a grant from former television editor Christopher Buck;  read more about the nonprofit group that emerged here.  "Retro Report is there to pick up the story after everyone has moved on, connecting the dots from yesterday to today, correcting the record and providing a permanent living library where viewers can gain new insight into the events that shaped their lives,"  the introduction says.

The New York Times features Retro Report on its online  "Booming"  section,  designed to appeal to those of us born between 1946 and 1964.  
Couple featured in Booming (remember this look?)

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

The current CMS BOE is very much in- step with Griffin's views.

Anonymous said...

Of course the national media (and the local media) never bothered to dig deeply enough to see that this "darling" provided a two tier education--mostly whites in high level classes, mostly blacks in the "other" classes. But everyone looked good together in the PE classes. My favorite comment about the situation was made by a man I met at a party back in the early 2000s. He was a white West Charlotte alum and he bemoaned the end of busing--"I don't think that most of us got that great of an education, but we all did got along".

Wiley Coyote said...

Ahhh... good times...good times...

silicon28 said...

Anon. 1:33 pm: Nothing could be further from the truth. I should know: I was there, in AP classes, with white and black classmates sitting all around me, part of the first graduating class that spend all of their high school years at WC. You've been listening to the revisionist history that wants you to forget the fact that for a decade or so - it worked... period... no spinning or explaining needed. You should stop and think about what had happened between the 1970s and when your friend graduated in the early 2000s - then you can figure out how people with attitudes managed to mess up something that wasn't broken, which has left us with the mess that is currently CMS.

Perhaps you should take your own advice... "dig" a bit "deeper" before sharing an opinion that has no basis in fact...

Wiley Coyote said...

Busing never "worked". Period.

Pamela Grundy said...

The Retro Reports are real interesting. I particularly liked the one about the garbage barge.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, I went to one of those schools described as a "success" for de-segregation, too.

And, of course, it turned all black and was shut down a few years ago.

Probably hundreds just like it out there.

For what it is worth said...

2:19, it worked because of who the principal was. It did not work later for others for the same reason.

Anonymous said...

Aren't we glad it's all being stirred up again!

Anonymous said...

Are we not past this era yet? Why turn back the negative clock. Project Lift has created the new segregation that they choose. A new cooking of the graduation rate has been established as well. Keith W. Hurley

Anonymous said...

Silicon 28.

Funny, but my experiences back in the early 1970's at another "successfully" integrated school in another state was just the opposite of yours at WC.

While the school was around 30% black, 30% Italian, and 30% White, we only had 1 black in our Algebra class.

And I had to read History tests to 3 semi-literate black basketball players because they could not read at 9th grade level.

No one else had that problem.

Of course, after some serious violent events (shootings, knivings, etc.), that school quickly became all black as well.

Well within the 10 years it took for WC to re-segregate.

The main differences I see between my old HS and WC is that my old HS started out white.

But it was still old and beat-up when they brought in the black kids, so we didn't get all the "upgrades" that WC apparently got at that time.

The school has long since closed, and the black kids who went to that school were transferred to a new school and brought violence their "new" school as well (which was also black).

Eventually they set up parallel administrations within the merged school (with two principals) to control the "transition" back in the early 2000's.

And just checking the news today, that school has just had 10 students arrested for having a bloody fight in the halls.

Between two "neighborhood" groups within the school.

So the story goes on...

Anonymous said...

Oh, and I forgot to say that we were part of the "white flight" from that era.

And we don't feel we missed a thing...

Especially since we got out before my sisters had to go to high school.