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Cross / Struggles With Integration

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Cross: I went the next day, and when the busses came in I had to break up so many fights. The blacks got off the busses, they just start fighting the whites. It was a mess. We finally got all of them in the classrooms, but some of them we had in our office for fighting and stuff like that and we just sent them home that day. Interviewer: Who was initiating the fight? Cross: Both of them. White and blacks. If a black went in the restroom and there was two whites, they’d beat up the black. If blacks were in the restroom and the white came in, they’d beat up the whites. So that’s the way we started integration. Then, one thing else, my second day at school, one of the white teachers brought three white girls in my office and say they were smoking in the restroom. I said, “Smoking in the restroom? No they were not!” So, they got in my office and said, “Well, you can have three days at home or three licks with my board.” They said we’ll take the three licks. So, I put my board on them and they all came out of the office crying and my principal was standing there and he said, “What did you do to the girls?” I said, “I spanked them. Three of them. Smoking in the restroom.” He said, “Come in my office a few minutes.” I went in his office and he said, “Now, usually, at the high school we usually let the women teachers spank the girls and we don’t spank them.” I said, “Well, you know, I’ve got two daughters and I’ve spanked them and I’ll spank these if they doing something wrong.” So, he said, “Well, okay.” They started spanking the girls too. They wouldn’t spank them at first. Then, two, when I went to the high school, I feel like if you’re in a position as a principal, you’re supposed to look like a principal. Even when I taught, I wore a suit and tie. You could tell I was a teacher because—and I went to the high school like that and the principal called me, and he said, “We’re going to have to buy a new wardrobe. You’re wearing suits and ties every day.” I said, “Well, that’s the way I feel like I’m supposed to look the part. If I’m a principal, I’m supposed to look like a principal now. If y’all don’t want to wear coats and whatever, just do what you want to, but every time I show up here I’m going to have on a suit and a tie and that’s my part.” So, they had to go out and buy some clothes and get suits and ties and all of that. We got it going and we met with the school board and we told them we had six blacks and six whites that we needed to get off the campus for us to have a successful year and they approved it because we can suspend students, but we can’t expel them. The board has to do that. So, we expelled ten students and when we expelled them we called them out of class and told them they had to go home and that they were being expelled for the year. So, we watched them leave and they were all going to the parking lot and I was telling (inaudible), “They going to fight when they get down there.” He said, “Let’s let them fight.” I said, “Well, okay, if you want them to fight, they’re sure going to fight when they get on that parking lot.” I tell you, those black boys beat up those white boys just something merciful and we just watched them, and they fought until I guess they had enough and then they all just left and so that was the end of that.

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Race Relations › Black-White Race Relations
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Corporal Punishment in Education
Education › Education and Integration
Education › Education and Integration › Resistance to School Integration
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Tags Lufkin High School, Lufkin, TX
Fighting in School
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Locations Lufkin, TX
Duration 00:04:42
Citation "Struggles With Integration," from Herbert Cross oral history interview with Meredith May,  June 20, 2016, Lufkin, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database, https://crbb.tcu.edu/clips/2402/struggles-with-integration, accessed November 14, 2019