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Cross / Opportunity At The High School

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Cross: Then another incident I had, somebody was breaking into the cafeteria eating the ice cream and stuff out of the—so one of my men teachers, James Toran, I said, “Let’s catch this, whoever this is. We going to go to the cafeteria tonight and we going to sit in there and wait for somebody.” So, we did. We saw some flashlights at one of the windows. He was sitting—Mr. Toran was by the light switch. They were talking. Had their flashlights and looked like they had some tools in their hands. They had on gloves. They got about middle-ways that cafeteria and I said, “Hit the lights, Mr. Toran,” and they screamed. One ran jumped out the window and the other was going to jump and I tackled him, and I held him down. Two of our sixth-grade students, boys, breaking in. So, we never had another break-in after that, but another thing I had done, they were breaking in the restroom of the cafeteria. What I did, I took some razorblades and, on the windowsill, where you got to reach over, I had razorblades sticking out that far all the way along that windowsill. Then I came back next morning, there was blood all over. So, the assistant superintendent came out and I showed him what happened, he said, “You can’t do that!” I said, “I’ll do what will solve the problem.” He said, “You got to take all those razorblades out of that window.” So, I did. I took them out, but we never had a breaking in the cafeteria anymore. So, that was my experience. It was one teacher I hired from a—she was teaching out at an Indian reservation out in either New Mexico or Arizona. Her parents were just so elated that I hired her. She was a good teacher and she never—she and another teacher, Mr. Toran and this girl was Erma Amy, they had the best attendance. No student would miss. They’d come sick. Those two of my teachers had the best attendance, but the irony of the whole thing is that the dean of women’s secretary was my music teacher and she had seen me every time I went into the office at Prairie View, you know. The irony of the whole thing is that here I am, her principal. She was looking down her nose every time I showed up at the good dean’s office, my brother and I and here I’m her boss. That was the irony of the whole thing. She was a good music teacher and we never had any problems. She never mentioned Prairie View pertaining to me. I thought that was something. Here this good dean of women’s secretary is my music teacher. So, that was it. Then, at the end of my year at Brandon Elementary, we were going to integrate. Integrate these high schools. Well, the superintendent called me in and I’m wondering what have I done this time. So, then he said, “I want you to go to the high school with the integration.” I said, “Well what’s going to happen to the principal at Dunbar?” He said, “We’ll find a place for him, but we want you at the high school.” So, I said, “Well, I’ll have to think about it.” Then I called him back and he said, “Go over to the high school and meet with the principal at the high school. Y’all need to get together.” So, I went over and met him, Ed Casbin. I didn’t know him or anything. We were talking and everything and he showed me a student handbook. So, we were talking about what all I was going to be an eleven-month principal. He was a twelve-month principal, and then we had another white guy, he was a ten-month principal.

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Work › Occupations
Education › Elementary Education
Education › Corporal Punishment in Education
Education › Education and Integration
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Tags Dunbar High School, Lufkin, TX
Prairie View A&M University
Brandon Elementary, Lufkin, Texas
Casbin, Ed
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Duration 00:05:06
Citation "Opportunity At The High School," from Herbert Cross oral history interview with Meredith May,  June 20, 2016, Lufkin, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed June 19, 2021