Interview with Rhody McCoy
QUESTION 17
LOUIS MASSIAH:

OK. Around the death of Martin Luther King, what happened in the schools in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and what was your decision as a result of whatever happened within the schools around then?

RHODY McCOY:

Ah, if memory serves me correct, the death of Martin Luther King brought two reactions that ultimately ended up in, ah, us closing the schools for the day. The students came to us and asked, ah, to close the schools down and, and because there was a lot of unrest and, ah, nobody wanted to study, they wanted to talk about why and what had happened, ah, to a, a peaceful guy who was trying to do something. And then a, a number of the, ah, governing board members, ah, also, ah, approached and talked about closing the schools down and so with these two bodies coming together, ah, they came and asked that I, you know, pass out a, a word, close the schools down in commemoration for Martin Luther King's death. And which we did.

LOUIS MASSIAH:

Stop for one second.



LOUIS MASSIAH:

OK, once again, how did the death of Martin Luther King, did that affect the experiment, did that change the mood within the schools and what was your reaction as administrator?

RHODY McCOY:

Ah, I think it, the death of Martin Luther King impacted on us in different ways. First of all it was, it was a very sad moment. And then secondly, the students reacted because here we are talking about, ah, obeying the laws and, you know, being good citizens and so forth, and here's a gentleman who's all over the United States is talking about peace and, and, and talking for the benefit of mankind and somebody assassinates him. Ah, that bothered them. And them, ah, when they thought and heard that it was a Caucasian who had assassinated him, it made it even worse because, ah, some of the, ah, subtle, ah, ah, reactions were, you know, ah, Whites had been running the school system and doing the X, Y and Z and we had sort of gotten away from that, we'd gotten into education. So this sort of brought it back up again. Among the adults, ah, it was more discouraging, that, that here we had lost, ah, a spokesman, a, a pathfinder, ah, and I think for a while it put a veil over the, over the experiment. We didn't have for about, I guess, two months any enthusiasm. Ah, as a matter of fact I recall we canceled board meetings. Ah, ah, it, it was just, ah, ah, just a veil, a very sad, ah, time.