Positive: An Increase in Racial Interaction

13% Whites / 17% Blacks

  • I think when kids go to school together you learn more about each other. You learn to respect each other and you learn more about [each other’s] culture.  It’s just a better deal … – Black male, 66 years old
  • I think it has made people aware of the ignorance that was shown in the 50’s as far as the race relations, and that we are to live more as an integrated community than a segregated one. – White female, 58 years old
  • [Desegregation] allows more diversity and education for all people, and people will learn to get along and respect each other. – White female, 58 years old

The comments that form this theme center on a simple fact with far-reaching implications – that the Central High crisis marked the beginning of the end of segregation in Arkansas schools. Many comments from this theme suggest that the fact that blacks and whites have been brought together in the schoolyard provides a basis for greater social interaction overall, which results in a demystification of perceived racial differences.  This in its turn has led to a general improvement in race relations.

Similar numbers of blacks and whites felt this to be the case. Interestingly, respondents under the age of fifty were more likely to make positive comments about the benefits of integration than those over fifty. It may be that people were more likely to acknowledge the benefits of integration if they had first hand experience of growing up within an integrated school system.