First black students recall first days of integration

Published: Thursday, February 27, 2014 at 10:51 AM.

“Mother took us and the principal gave us permission to come to the school and some reporters came and put us in the newspaper and on TV because we were the first black kids to go to that school,” Rivers said. “When we came outside for recess, we were playing with the kids and we saw some people taking pictures.”

Alphonzo Scott, now of Monks Corner, was in first grade.

“I remember walking to school and some people were saying some things, you know, and I just tried to ignore them,” Scott said. “I felt uncomfortable because of all the name calling and things like that. There were people on both sides of the steps going to the school. It wasn’t a very good environment. You got the feeling that people didn’t like you and that they didn’t want you there. I remember getting our picture in the newspaper going up the steps and into the school.”

The three were the children of Cpl. Roland Scott, a Cherry Point Marine. The Craven County Board of Education passed a resolution allowing the black children of military personnel to attend the previous all-white public schools in Havelock, clearing the way for integration.

At Havelock Elementary, eight came on that first day, while at Barden Elementary, three attended.

Black students of non-military parents remained barred from public schools. The school board’s “integrated but segregated” decision was prompted by a local committee ruling that came after “a pointed request from the air station authorities that something be done to correct the situation then in existence,” according to a story in the Havelock Progress on July 16, 1959. The decision was based on that federal money was used to build the schools.

The Scott children had attended Annunciation Catholic School, and Roland Scott said he liked the school, despite its strictness. He said one day his father, now deceased, informed the children they would be switching schools and offered no explanation.

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