Interview with Emma Darnell

How and why did you stir up so much controversy?


Well, um, I stirred up controversy for two reasons. Number one, um, we were dealing with a problem that, ah, was a, one that carried with it a lot of emotional, ah, feeling. That's still true. When, When, you begin to move in public policy in areas that involve race, ah, you can expect a great deal of emotion**. And, ah, some of the emotion is fear. We underestimated, I might add, how controversial these practices would be. We were extremely naive. And, ah, one of the things that made this whole program so controversial was, ah, that, ah, issues involving race in the South and indeed throughout the nation in 1974, ah, still, ah, created very, very strong feelings. Another reason that I think that I became very controversial is because of my own style. Number one, I was Black. Number two, ah, female. Well, both. I was Black and female. And also I, ah, my style is not exactly one of a, ah, of a shrinking violet. I, I um, I'm what some people call assertive. I have very strong convictions and I express them in a very strong way. Ah, in fact, my conduct and my style, ah, was very different, ah, from what people really expected from women in a leadership position.