Mark Royster - On his family, education, and school integrationInterviewed by Rachel Hollingsworth on March 30, 2011
This interview begins with the background of Mark Royster. Royster grew up on his father’s farm in Granville County which is north of Durham County. His father’s farm was government subsidized. He was the youngest of twelve children. His sister is the eldest and would be 100 years old at the time of the interview. He attended the segregated Shaw Elementary School which was situated in a rural area in Stovall, NC. The high school he attended did not have a gym, only had outside facilities for athletics. School games were held at the National Guard Armory in Oxford, NC. Mary Potter High School was their rival once it stopped being an all-girls high school. Integration took place during Royster’s senior year of high school. The students were given a choice to attend a predominately white institution or remain at their school. However, they decided to close down the high school Royster originally attended. Royster then decided to attend J.F. Webb High School where all of his teachers were white. Some of the teachers from Shaw transferred to Webb. Royster notes that the standard of teaching at Oxford Webb was much higher than what he was used to. Royster also says that he sees color, but he also sees the person regardless of creed, race, or nationality. Royster’s father was not educated. His mother had some level of reading and writing. One of his sisters went to college at age 15 and became a teacher. Royster was the first male in his family to attend college. He also notes that African Americans made up the bulk of the lower performing classes due to the lack of resources.
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