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- Girvaud Justice oral history interview 1, 2006 August 6
Girvaud Justice oral history interview 1, 2006 August 6
Girvaud Justice was one of four African American students who attended all-white schools in Charlotte in 1957 as a challenge to the city's slow response to desegregate schools, which had been mandated by the Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. In this first of four interviews, Mrs. Justice discusses her childhood experiences in the First Ward and Second Ward neighborhoods, stressing the negative impact of serial displacement that her family faced during urban renewal in the 1960s. She describes local businesses, churches, and other institutions in these neighborhoods, including Myers Street School, the Phyllis Wheatley YWCA, and the Brevard Street Library, which was the first free black library in the South. Mrs. Justice recalls the cohesiveness of the local culture and the way that families assisted each other with child rearing, and compares this with what she sees as a lack of discipline for children at the time of the interview. Encouraged by her mother's pioneering activism in demanding equal educational opportunities for her children, Mrs. Justice explains that she and her brother Gus were eager to attend the all-white schools of Piedmont Junior High and Central High. She describes the prejudice and discrimination that she and Gus faced in their respective schools, but she also recollects the support she had from the principal of Piedmont, and the way that attitudes shifted over time. In addition to race, Mrs. Justice also notes that class has played a significant role in inequality.