What was the difference between the new teachers coming in, the teachers from the African American Teachers Association and the old teachers? What was the difference in what they taught, their attitudes?
Well, you have to understand, the difference between the new teachers and the old teachers, number one, you had very few Black teachers in the school, at that time. Number two, this was, ah, the end of the second strike. There was a lot of activity going around. So basically, as a student, you were more curious as to why this was happening than you were as, ah, you didn't really, the curiosity was more to why it was happening rather than who discovered America, you know, Christopher Columbus. So the teachers were addressing more and more those questions and also you, as a student, were willing to believe them more than UFT teachers because they were the ones who were conc- the Black teachers were the ones who were concerned as to whether you passed your Regents Exams or your classes and not, not the UFT teachers that, that point, they were very hostile toward the students too. All of them, they were very hostile and they acted like automatically we were hostile towards them. But they made their choice, not the Black teachers.
Again, further, what was it like having so many more Black teachers inside Junior High School 271?
Well, you learned a lot more, there was a lot more, you learned a lot more. Ah, you, you identified more. You learned that teachers were human beings, not some abstract, ah, something. They stayed after school. At 3 o'clock they didn't run downstairs and punch out. You know they gave you more time. I mean it was, it was more of a, You felt more accepted. You weren't an outsider in your own school. They were part of your environment. I mean they were Black. You can identify with them and they can identify with you. It's as simple as that. There's no big mystery, you know**.