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Cross / Resistance to School Integration

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Cross: So, we were talking about everything and what my position would be and what my job would be, and I said, “Now, I see down here that this is the student handbook, but it says you have to be clean-shaven.” “Oh yeah,” he says, “We can’t enforce it unless we are.” I said, “We shouldn’t be abiding by the student handbook. That’s for students. We’re not students.” He said, “Yes, but you’ll have to shave your mustache.” I said, “Well, that’s it. We can forget about this job because I’m not saving my mustache.” My mustache been in my family for as far as I can remember. My grandpa had a mustache, my father, I got it, all my brothers got mustaches, and I said just about every black you see would have a mustache. So, I’m not shaving my mustache. That job’s not that important enough to me to be shaving my mustache. So, I went back to my school. Then the superintendent called me, and he said, “Go back over to the high school and talk to Mr. Casbin. I think he might have misunderstood you.” So, I said okay and went back over there. He said, “We just going to forget about the mustache. We want you at the high school.” So, I started assistant principal at the high school. Interviewer: What year was this? Cross: Sixty-nine-seventy. Sixty-nine-seventy, I never forget it. So, the first day when school began my job was to get everybody out of their car because they’d sit in their cars and smoke. So, I went to the parking lot and I’m saying I might have some problem with these students because they don’t know me and I’m black. If I tell them to get out of their car, I don’t know whether they’re going to get out or not. I went on out there and I didn’t have any problem. I told them to get out of their cars they’d get out, but I saw a large crowd in front of the school and it just kept getting bigger and bigger and I’m wondering what is going on up there. So, when the bell rang for school to take up, I said let me go check this crowd. So instead of me going in the school in the side, I went to the front because that’s where all these people were, and I thought of when Moses parted the Red Sea because when I got there, everybody had guns. Just all these white people out there and they had guns and I got there and they just kind of parted and made a little aisle there for me to go down. They didn’t say anything for me, but they let me through but every one of them had a gun. I walked through there and I’m looking and I’m saying what is going on here? So, I went on in the front door to the principal and I said, “What’s going on all these white people out here?” He said, “They wouldn’t let the blacks get off the busses.” I said, “They wouldn’t?” He said, “No.” So, they all went back home. The busses just took them back home. So, I said, “Well, I don’t know what we’re going to do,” but he said—then they called, and they were going to have a meeting at the superintendent’s office. They had the Justice Department, the FBI, everybody was there. We met, and they said if they’re there tomorrow, we’re going to arrest everybody. We’re going to put them on school busses, take them to jail, and book them all in. Nobody showed up the next day. Somebody at that meeting had told them. Somebody in the meeting had known about it. The next day, I said, “Well, that’s one obstacle we’re over.”

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Education › Secondary Education
Education › Education and Integration
Education › Education and Integration › Resistance to School Integration
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Ideology › Desegregation v. Integration
Tags Dunbar High School, Lufkin, TX
Lufkin High School, Lufkin, TX
Casbin, Ed
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Duration 00:04:20
Citation "Resistance to School Integration," from Herbert Cross oral history interview with Meredith May,  June 20, 2016, Lufkin, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed June 24, 2019