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Cross / Problems At Brookhollow Elementary

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Interviewer: What was support for integration like within the community as a whole? Particular the African-American— Cross: Segregated. Segregated, because when I got here at Perry Brothers, they had a black water fountain and a white water fountain and so I drank out of the white. Some clerk came running up and said, “You can’t drink out of that. That’s white water!” I said, “I know. I don’t want no black water. I want white water,” and I just walked out. Anyway, this community, we are integrated but we’re not integrated. It’s something else but I just go with the flow, but just a lot of diehard people. They ain’t ever going to integrate nothing. Socially, it’ll never be integrated. I was thinking what happened to me when I retired. I retired from—now what did I do. I retired from Brook Hollow Elementary. Now, when I was at the high school, it was an open concept school, Brook Hollow Elementary and the principal there was going to work on his PhD at Texas A&M, so he resigned. It was a new school and he had worked there one year. So, I’m at the high school and the superintendent called me and said, “Now, you have more seniority than anybody and I got to offer you this position, but I know you want to stay at the high school.” I had been at the high school for four years. So, he said, “We got a Brook Hollow Elementary School opening. I’m offering it to you. I know you don’t want it, but I’m offering it to you.” I said, “I’ll take it,” and he almost fell out of his chair. (laughs) Oh, that’s funny.” So, then I went to Brook Hollow. Now, each year before school began, I would go to the hospital and stayed three days and you could do all these check-ups and things. So, I was in the hospital getting my yearly checkup[ and they brought the paper in and on the front page it said, “Brook Hollow School Set On Fire.” I’m saying what? The whole office complex: principals office, secretaries office, yteacher’s workroom and the teachers lounge. All up in flames and I’m going there in September. I’m in the hospital reading all this and I’m going to be going there in September. After I got out of the hospital and stuff, I went and talked to the superintendent and stuff and everything and I said—he said, “Your first job, you’ve got to get all this cleaned up.” You know, that office complex—so, I said, “I’ll take care of it.” So, we got the maintenance people out there and we got it all cleaned up and everything. That was my first experience at Brook Hollow. Saw in the paper that I was going there, and I guess they said we’ll just burn this place up. So, I went there with that on my shoulders. I had to do that. My first staff meeting with all the teachers, they were just sitting there saying I want you to make me do something. They had that look on their faces, you know? I said “Oh, I’ll take care of it.”

Interview Interview with Herbert Cross
Subjects Work › Discrimination at Work › Discrimination at Work: Race and Ethnicity
Education › Secondary Education
Education › Education and Integration
Education › Education and Integration › Resistance to School Integration
Education › Teachers and Administrators
Discrimination or Segregation › Discrimination or Segregation of Public Accommodations › Water fountains
Work › Workers rights
Tags Perry Brothers Five & Dime store, Lufkin, TX
Lufkin High School, Lufkin, TX
Brookhollow Elementary School, Lufkin, TX
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Interview date 2016-06-20
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Cross, Herbert
Interviewers May, Meredith
Duration 00:04:22
Citation "Problems At Brookhollow Elementary," from Herbert Cross oral history interview with Meredith May,  June 20, 2016, Lufkin, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed January 23, 2020