Interview with C. Herbert Oliver

I'm going to ask you a variant of the first question again.


What were some of the major differences in the education provided your children in, in Birmingham and the education that they saw when they came up to, to Brooklyn?


Well when my family moved here from Birmingham in 1965 they came from totally segregated schools. Ah, the children were all Black. The teachers were all Black. The principals were all Black. Ah, one of my sons was above the national average in mathematics, but when he came to the schools here in Brooklyn, within one year he was flunking math. And I went to the school to find out why. And in the South when I went to, in, in Alabama when I went to a school, I was welcomed. The principal was glad to see a parent there and I could discuss any problem with, with my children there. But when I came to the school here in Brook--Brooklyn, I couldn't get to see the principal. Someone wanted to know why I came, what I wanted to see him for, and that he was not available. So, I simply said, "Well, I'll wait for him." I was, I was, I had, had expected to see the principal. That was my custom. But here I couldn't see a principal. So, I simply said, "I'll, I'll wait until he comes," because I intended to see the principal. So, in about a half an hour, the principal came. And I talked with the principal and told him what the problem was. We went and talked with the teacher. The teacher said my son was doing fine. I said, "He's not bringing home assignments and he's flunking math and he came here from Alabama and he was ahead of the national average and you're telling me he's doing fine? Something is wrong** And, ah, that just made me fired up to do something to change the system because I, I could see it was destroying children and it was hurting my own child.