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

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Morrison's prediction has proved the wisdom and the soundness of his leadership. The school bonds and the road bonds did put our people to work. They did stimulate road building, school house building in rural areas, and construction amounting to other millions in cities and small towns. It was a time for development and remarkable expansion on sound bases. Many additional millions (by counties and cities) were invested in school buildings and equipment, including busses for transportation of children. While it is going a bit ahead of the story, the officer in charge of bus transportation in North Carolina, advises there are, in 1945, 4980 bases being driven over modern highways, transporting 342,000 school children daily, nearly 50,000 of whom are Negroes.

Fourth - The Negro schools gained tremendously in the decade of the 1920's. This was a vital part of the upsurge of interest and activity all over the state in education, agriculture, business, indistry,and other lines of work and service in North Carolina. What has been known and respected throughout the South as the Julius Rosenwald Fund for aid to school buildings for Negroes was active in the state throughout the ten-year period. A total of 813 school buildings were erected in the state with aid from the Rosenwald Fund. Most of these schools were small, though some were consolidated schools. They included about 2500 class rooms, besides in many cases, rooms and equipment for teaching sewing, cooking, agriculture, and the like. Also auditorium, offices for principals, library rooms, rooms for simple health clinics. Space in these buildings accomodated 2538 teachers and 114,210 children. The money to build them came from the following sources:

1. Contributions by Negroes $666,736 2. The Rosenwald Fund 713,426 3. Public taxation 3,707,740 4. Individual white neighbors 75,140 Total $5,167,042

The Rosenwald school building program included homes for teachers and shops in addition to school buildings. That Fund also aided in the purchase of 69 busses for transportation for 33 schools in 23 countries. The total cost was $100,954.72 of which the Rosenwald Fund contributed $35,334.75. Likewise, the Fund as aided Negro schools

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-7to secure good books for their libraries - both elementary and high school. 1,086 libraries in schools have received aid. The total cost of the books as been $41,367. Of this sum the Julius Rosenwald Fund has contributed $13,789.

In the very nature of the projects every Rosenwald school was a cooperative enterprise. It was significant that within a decade it was possible to build 813 school houses (homes and shops) in a single state, all built of good material; many of them of permanent construction. Each furnished with serviceable school equipment, comfortable, and convenient for satisfactory use. Ir was perhaps more significant that each school built involved interracial cooperation. When the Negro people in Magnolia community (for instance) began to discuss their need of a new school building, they discussed it among themselves, perhaps in their local churches, and lodge rooms. Then they went to see their county superintendent of schools. He took them to the Board of Education where it was further considered. Next, perhaps the superintendent requested someone from the Division of Negro Education to visit his county and talk over plans for the new school. This representative could tell them about plans, costs, possible aid from the Rosenwald Fund, a loan from the state if that was needed. Soon the details would progress far enoguh to request the County Commissioners, the tax levying body, to provide funds needed. When that was done, the Division of Negro Education would request the Rosenwald Fund to aid. In some cases requests went also to the General Education Board or to the Sister Fund for cetain types of equipment, ansd there were hundreds of visits to local communities made by representatives of all these various organizations.

When there was general agreement among all these individuals and groups, a contract was let and construction of a building proceeded. This, or a similr procedure was followed through in connection with each of the 813 schools under discussion. Not mentioned above in the list of personnel interested in each school were hundreds of white people, not officials, representing almost every class or rank of white people in North Carolina. It would be impossible to estimate even the total

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number of white and negro people in North Carolina, thousands of them, who participated actively, whole heartedly in the planning and the building of Rosenwald schools. It was a magnificent experiment in cooperative interracial endeavor. There can be no doubt that this experience, participation, in an enterprise that meant so much for each community has been at least partially responsible for the racial good-will and generally friendly cooperation between the races which have prevailed in this state until today. Mr. Rosenwald often said it was unfair to name these “Rosenwald Schools” because his contribution was so small a percentage of the total cost; indeed, not much larger than the significant amount contributed by Negroes themselves. It will be observed too, that the three and a half million dollars supplied from public funds is a tribute to the good will of people, all people, who pay taxes. Many white people living in communities where Rosenwald schools were built shared in the public funds and also gave seventy-five thousand dollars out of their own private funds. Fifth – Beginnings made in the 1920’s are further important because of steps taken in the matter of higher education of Negroes. The General Assembly of 1925 created two four-year colleges for Negroes. a. The North Carolina College for Negroes, Durham, North Carolina. This institution was chartered as a liberal arts college, the first such college it is claimed by its sponsors, established by a Legislature in the Southern States. b. The Winston-Salem Teachers College, Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The services of the college are devoted entirely to the training of teachers for the elementary schools of North Carolina. Sixth – The Negro teachers, principals, college presidents and other engaged in the program of education, began very definitely in this decade (1920-1930) to urge the need of better trained teachers, better salaries, improved buildings and equipment, longer school terms, larger public support for colleges and raising standdards in public education all along the line. In 1927, at the annual session of their

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-9State teachers’ Association a resolution was passed unanimously authorizing a study of certain phases of public education to be made by a committee of 25 from the membership of their Association. Three topics were chosen as a beginning in this study, viz: a. Length of school term, b. Salaries, c. School building and equipment. The committees were appointed to study the topics named, and considerable useful work was done. It will be important to remember that initial studies of this kind were undertaken by Negro leaders in an effort to study and to understand their own educational problems in North Carolina.

LATER DEVELOPMENTS

Despite the country-wide depression in the 1930’s, while there was a check and some delay in public education in that decade, there was nevertheless remarkable progress made in Negro education when the whole ten year period is considered. This is particularly true when 1940 – 1945 are included. The concluding section of this story will therefore deal with the period beginning in 1930 and ending in 1945. Centered around the General Assembly of 1933 a number of very far reaching events, actions may be considered. It cannot be forgotten that the Legislature of that year was in session in the very heart of the depression. Among the important acts of that body which immediately or ultimately did affect Negro education in North Carolina are: First – Seeking a way to save the best in public education in a time of shrinking income the Legislature abolished all school district boundaries and authorized the Governor to appoint a new body, known as the State’ School Commission, and instructed that group to re-district the entire state making large districts where there had been so many small ones. Second – It established a state-wide eight months school term for all children, white, Negro and Indian. Third – It drastically reduced teachers salaries. The maximum for a white teacher for the biennium of 1933-1935 could go no higher than $90.00 a month for

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eight months, and the corresponding salary for a Negro teacher was $70.00. All of these were harsh, almost violent changes, all enacted into law within a period of sixty to ninety days. However, the people of the state endured the shock. The State treasury has little money. The Legislature “cut the garment according to the cloth.” Arrangements were made to pay the teachers when their small monthly allowances came due, and so, the state met its obligations, paid the teachers, all the teachers, the pittances they were promised and when they were promised, without asking the National Government to help. The United States did assist in the purchase of about 600 busses. While the salaries for all teachers of all races were pitifully low, the comparative salaries of Negro teachers ranked nearer to the top standard for white teachers than ever before. That step perhaps was one aid to the beginning of equalization of salaries, which has since taken place. As a result of the Legislature’s appropriations (bond issues 1921-1927) for consolidating school districts, it is true in 1945 to state that most white rural schools have been consolidated and provided with adequate bus transportation. That is true only in part for Negro schools. In some counties this task has already been completed. Approximately 600 or more one- and two-teacher Negro schools have passed out of the picture since 1933, while large consolidated schools have been provided. Prior to 1933 only about 42.5 per cent of Negro rural children had a term longer than six months. In reverse, that means about 57.5 per cent had only six months of school. When school reports for 1933-1934, one year after legislative action establishing a term of eight months throughout the state, came in, it was found that around 92.5 of all Negro children that year attended school eight months. Thus one half, (50 per cent) of all Negro children in North Carolina for the first time

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