Articles and Speeches by N. C. Newbold, 1945-1946

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[handwritten text on the top margin] 1945

SOME ACHIEVEMENTS IN THE EQUALIZATION OF EDUCATION OPPORTUNITIES IN NORTH CAROLINA

In the good year 1901, a new Governor took office in North Carolina. He became known throughout the state as the "Educational Governor," and after some time his reputation for leadership in behalf of education spread to other states in the South, and in the Nation. His philoshopy of education can be determined by quotations from some of his speeches: "Equal, that is the word! On that word I plant myself and my party - the equal right of every child born on earth to have the opportunity to burgeon out all there is within him." "On a hundred platforms, to half the voters in the State, -- I pledged the State, its strength, its heart, its wealth, to universal education - - - men of wealth, representatives of great cooperations applauded eagerly my declaration. - - - Gentlemen of Legislature, you will have ought to fear when you make ample provision for the education of the whole people." In an interview given to the New York Herald in April, 1901, he said in part: "We are in this state in the midst of an educational revival. We favor universal education and intent to accomplish it. - - - as to the Negro we shall do our full duty to him. - - - He is with us to stay. His destiny and ours are so interwoven that we cannot lift ourselves up without at the same time lifting him."

Governor Charles Brantley Aycock was a lawyer by profession, a graduate of the University of North Carolina, an eloquent orator of the sincere persuasive type, and was held in high esteem by the people of his state. He was a genuine man, and a born leader of men.

For purposes of this article a brief outline of a situation he faced as Governor should be included here: In his first Legislature (1901), a group of members decided to force through that body what the Governor considered a vicious bill. The aim was to divide tax money collected for schools between the white and Negro races on the basis of what each paid. All white taxes would go to white school and Negro taxes

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to Negro schools. Governor Aycock rallied his friends in and out of the General Assembly to defeat the bill. He said there was no more reason to divide school funds between the races according to the amounts each paid than there would be to effect such a division in all other taxes; that the bill for that reason and others, was unconstitutional. The opposition did not succeed in 1901. However, when the General Assembly, of 1903 convened this "school tax division group" began their efforts all over again and there was much bitter discussion. Finally, exasperated, the Governor sent the leaders of the group in the Assembly who wished to pass such a bill a written statement saying in effect: "If you and your associates pass any such bill as that, I will resign my office as Governor, return to my home in Goldsboro and to the practice of law."

That statement of the Governor ended the matter and since then no such "Vicious principle" has raised its head in a North Carolina General Assembly. The Governor of North Carolina does not have veto power.

It may be appropriate here to say that Governor Aycock, many years later, was among four leaders in American education who were "cannonized" and thus honored by the National Education Association meeting in Seattle, in the state of Washington. The other three were Dr. Charles W. Elliot, former president of Harvard Univerisity, Dr. William T. Harries one time United States Commissioner of Education, and Mrs. Ella Flagg Youth, a former Superintendent of the Chicago Public Schools.

Another North Carolinian who made invaluable contributions to public education in the state is Dr. James Y. Joyner. Appointed to be State Superintendent of Public Instruction in 1902 by Governor Aycock, Dr. Joyner served as head of the state's public school system for seventeen years, and then retired of his own volition in 1919. He and the Governor had been close personal friends since their student days at the State University in Chapel Hill. Dr. Joyner brought to his task sound scholarship, broad experience, enthusiasm and deep devotion to his state, and the education of all the children as supreme goal.

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-3In his biennial report, he wrote about Negro children and Negro schools in part as follows: “The obligation of the state for the education of the child is the same whether the child be wrapped in a white skin or a black one.” He stood by that philosophy throughout the seventeen years of his service as head of the public school system Since his retirement, and now even at eighty-three, his interest and enthusiasm for the schools of white and Negro children – all children – are keen an persistent. Around 1910 one of the Great American Foundations began to aid one or two of the Southern States to employ a person for full time service in the State Department of Public Education who would help the State Superintendent of schools to promote the improvement of Negro schools. Dr. Joyner soon heard about this movement and requested the General Education Board officers to aid him in securing such a worker for the Negro schools of North Carolina and to work as a member of his staff in the State Department of Public Instruction. After about one year his plans for this project took shape, and the person employed joined the State Department of Education in June, 1913. Since those early days, this type of special and regular service has been established in all of the Departments of Public Education in the Southern States, and it still is a vital part of each state’s educational program. North Carolina was perhaps the third state in the South to begin this kind of program, being preceded by Virginia and Alabama (or Georgia). Following the impetus given to the new emphasis upon the education of Negro children by Governor Aycock and Dr. Joyner soon after the turn of the century, there was of course still the star of hope, these leaders and others with them fixed in the educational sky of the state, but for several years progress was slow. During the years of World War I those in charge of this program found much difficulty. Railroads were few, there were no paved highways, and busses for public use were not in existence. Interest of officials and white people generally was not very keen, not in every section. There were of course exceptions, and encouraging situations here and there. The best that could be done it seemed was to seek

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and to cherish every small bit of factual information on progress that was being made and to mimeograph that so it could be distributed to school officials, other important people, white and Negro. After the first World War, conditions began to grow better. There were, even twenty-five years ago portents of important events, movements in education.

The first General Assemby after the war convened in January, 1921. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Dr. E. C. Brooks, and his associates, had a definite plan and a program for the development of Negro education. First, the program presented to the Legislature proposed a nine-person Division of Negro Education to be one of the official Divisions of the State Department of Public Instruction. In that year, the Department was organized on a Divisional basis following a survey made under the direction of Dr. Frank P. Bachman of the General Education Board. The suggestion to organize and include in the Department's make-up a Division of Negro Education originated with members of Dr. Brooks' staff and was not included in the survey of the state's public school system made in 1919-1920. The Legislature adopted the recommendation, established the Division of Negro Education, and appropriated $15,000 annually for its partial support. Other funds to maintain it came from the General Education Board, and small amounts from the Jeanes and Rosenwald Funds.

Second - The proposal was made that the Legislature appropriate for the biennium 1921-1923, one million dollars for permanent improvements of the State Negro colleges. Members of the General Assembly were surprised, amazed, told the State Superintendent he must be joking. Dr. Brooks said he was never more serious in his life, that the million dollars should be made available for all of it was badly needed. The leaders responded finally, saying, if you feel that way about it, we will include a half million dollars for new construction at the three state teachers colleges for Negroes. This was done, and that was more money for the purpose from state funds than had been made available by the state in the forty-four years since the first Negro Normal School was

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established in Fayetteville in 1877.

Following that significant action by the General Assembly in 1921, members of the Division of Negro Education made an appeal to the General Education Board: "Would your officers be interested in making available $100,000 to $150,000 to be used for all types of needed equipment in the proposed new buildings at the three teachers colleges, so that all of the states half million dollars could be used for new buildings." In a brief time, the officers of the Board had agreed to make a grant of $125,000 for equipment as requested. This splendid gift made possible a total of $625,000 for new buildings and equipment for these three Negro colleges.

Third - While not done specifically for Negro education nor indeed education in general, two actions of the 1921 Legislature did help stimulate and promote activity in behalf of the education of Negroes as well as whites. These were: a. The $50,000,000 bond issue authorized for the building of a system of state highways. Governor Cameron Morrison proved to be a prophet when he said this action would put our people to work, and distribute money all over the state where it was sorely needed at that time. b. The beginning of bond issues by the state to be a loan fund to local school units for building consolidated school houses. These bond issues finally amounted to $17,500,000 in 1927. Incidentally, it may be mentioned here that both road and school bonds have paid splendid dividends to the state and to the local communities. Further, that now in 1945, the General Assembly finds it possible to set aside out of current surplus funds $51,500,000 to liquidate as due all of the school building bonds and all other accumulated General Fund obligations including principal and interest. It may be mentioned, too, that the highway bonds have not been any burden to the state from the standpoint of debt. The income to the Road Fund has always been ample to pay interest promptly when due and to provide sinking funds sufficient to liquidate road bonds as they fall due. The State Treasurer advises that all road bonds will fall due and be paid in 1951 - six years from now."

The major point in this immediate discussion is to imphasize the fact that Governor

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