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Sample Interview Transcript

Interviewer: Alexes M. Terry

Interviewee: Coach W. Beal
Date of Interview: February 28, 2013
Start Time of Interview: 1:20pm
End Time of Interview: 1:46pm
Location of Interview: DeSoto High School, Room 1716
Interview Topic: Desegregation of Dallas County, 1970s

Terry: Please state your name.

Coach Beal Willie Beal
Terry: What year were you born?
Beal: 1954
Terry: Where were you born and raised?
Beal: Dallas, Texas
Terry: What high school and college did you attend?
Beal: Wilmer Hutchins HS (attended in August of 1970), Bishop College, Prairie View A&M
Terry: Was your high school segregated at the time you attended?
Beal: Yes, it was, half the time. I was in the Wilmer Hutchins school district (south of Dallas). All the black
kidsexcept maybe 4 or 5attended John F. Kennedy
Terry: What is your past or current occupation?
Beal: I am an educator, teacher at DeSoto High School, with coaching responsibilities.
Terry: Where do you currently reside?
Beal: Lancaster, TX
Terry: How would you compare your current place of residency to the place in which you were born and
Beal: I was born in South Dallas and we lived in the projects. Most people that were poverty stricken, if they
qualified, could live in the projects. My parents choose for us to live in the projects which were in South
Dallas at the time.
Terry: What is your earliest memory about the neighborhood in which you were born and raised?
Beal: My earliest memory would be that the kids were very friendly. We played outside and did a lot of
things together. It was neighborhood in which people came in went a lot of the time because of their
financial status.
Terry: Growing up, how did segregation affect the area in which you resided?
Beal: My parents were able to buy a 3 bedroom home in Highland Hills which was a part of the Wilmer
Hutchins school district. Us leaving the Dallas school district and living in the Wilmer Hutchins school
district was quite an experience because you knew that there were neighborhood schools that you would
attend and that they were all black.
Terry: What is your earliest memory of the Civil Rights Movement?
Beal: At that time, my dad begin to teach us early, about 5 or 6, that whites were not treating black fairly.
We had a chance to see how whites would treat us because my dad worked part-time for a white doctor.
The white doctor treated us as if we were just like he was; on the same level. Not a kind of situation in
which we would be treated as if we were second class individuals. So I saw a side in my neighborhood,
when we went to shop, maybe we were treated a little differently than we were when were with the [white]
doctor or people that my day knew that just so happened to be white that he actually worked for.
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Terry: Once schools and public facilities were forced to desegregate, how did desegregation affect Dallas
Beal: Well, even after the decision was made in the late fifties about doing away with segregation, it was
not until 1970 that Texas really begin to force the school districts to get into integration and make sure they
had a workable plan. So, in the Wilmer Hutchins school districtin 1970 Augustthat when we first started
attending school with white students. The plan at that time was to have all the black students at JFK HS
move to Wilmer Hutchins HS and have the white Jr. High kids move to John F. Kennedy which became the
Jr. High School and thats when we started mingling and learning about whites in general because up until
that time, I had never attended school with white students.
Terry: So how was it?
Beal: It turned out really good for us as a group but for me as an individual, my best friend at that time was
a white kid that I got to know. He was one of my receivers [since] I played quarterback and he was also
really friendly and we started to talk. Our moms had some of the same kind of situation where they were
both at home so this relationship really developed into its not a black and white thing because before home
games we either went to his house for dinner or he came to my house. So, our parents got involved and
that made me feel really good and we begin to understand that all white were not into racism and that
actually made integration work.
Terry: What is the earliest memory you have about desegregation in Dallas County? Question was
answered in the previous Q&A
Terry: How was Dallas County before desegregation?
Beal: In Wilmer Hutchins, we were really blessed probably more than schools in the Dallas areainner
citycause at least we had a brand new building. We had new desk, chairs, we even had new books. But,
for a long time that was not so. A lot of the black schools had hand-me-down books and furniture and
books were not as well kept as a predominantly white school at the time.
Terry: How was Dallas County after desegregation?
Beal: It was approximately a 15 yr time period since the passage of Brown II in 1957.
Terry: How long did it take Dallas County to desegregate and why do you believe the process took so long?
Beal: The southern states played hardball and they did not like the fact that the federal government said do
this and do that. So, when you have governors that are white and republican also, they put could put some
things in place. The main thing that made segregation go was busing. So, a lot of us had never riding a
bus. So, all of a sudden, its taking time to get the monies together [and] get buses so [they] could make
integration work. At the same time, this is a Republican state anyway. The Dallas area is majority
Republican. So they saw a way to delay things until they were basically forced to do what they were
suppose to do as far as desegregation was concerned.
Terry: How was the assassination of President Kennedy an example of Dallas reluctance to desegregate?
Beal: 1963, I was a fourth grader. I think it was the fact that Kennedy was a very strong democrat who
believed in civil rights for all men, but at the time Kennedy was very careful about the steps he took to make
sure that everybody in America was on point as far as following the rules of desegregation. I think with
Kennedy on board, it gave black people more hope and trust that the things we were waiting to see come
forwardeven before the 1950sthat they were going to take place and that we had the full backing of the
federal government to make sure that the Texas government was going to follow through and do the things
they needed to do.
Terry: Describe the mood of Dallas after the assassination of President Kennedy?
Beal: It wasnt good at all. As a fourth grader, I witnessed teachers crying that day. We happen to have a
TV and you saw a lot of [black] teachers crying a administrators making loud noises that the President has
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been assassinated or killed or shot. I think they said shot cause he hadnt died yet. But they started talking
about uh oh, were on our way to starting back over cause Kennedy gave us hope.
Terry: [Added question] What did starting over constitute?
Beal: It meant that since we were already [] this was in the sixties. We should already in be segregated
in a segregated school or environment. Progress was being made, but with the death of Kennedy, it like
we have to start over cause we dont know how President Johnson is going to respond to what has
happened and who he is going to be influenced by to turn back the map [and say] were not ready for
segregation in Texas.
Terry: How did the respective black and white communities respond to his assassination?
Beal: I think for the most part, you saw a lot of Christianity. It wasnt a matter of if a republican or democrat
had been killed. I think a lot of patriotism was show by a majority of the people. I think black were more
upset than whites. But now, on the local news, the scenes they were able to catch on camera, you saw a
lot of unhappy people among the blacks and not a whole lot among the whites. I mean you had a few here
and there that were actually crying and saying the kind of things that would get you to think they were upset
Terry: How did this event change the social make-up of Dallas County?
Beal: Well, for one thing it caused a lot of people maybe not to want to ever come to Dallas. Ok, heres a
Republican conservative town headed towards civil rights and fair treatment of all men and then all of a
sudden something like this happens. [Americans] started thinking that maybe this [Dallas] is not a place I
would want to raise my kids.
Terry: Describe Dallas County as America transitioned from the sixties into the seventies.
Beal: One thing of note would be that our only major university there was Southern Methodist University
and for the first time, they actually gave a scholarship to a black football player. I remember the time when
my dad actually took us to SMU to watch the practice because there was a black guy playing football. I
played football and we needed somebody in the area to look up to.
Terry: And was Paul Quinn around at that time?
Beal: No, at that time it was Bishop College. Paul Quinn was in Waco and so SMU was a major university.
Bishop College was small. It was one of our historical black colleges/ institutes that I actually attended and
graduated from. But, Bishop was really out of the picture as far as making things happen [for African
Terry: How did they respond to a predominantly black college being in Dallas?
Beal: The best thing about Bishop is that Bishop supplied the majority of [black] teachers and
administrators from up the late fifties up until Paul Quinn replaced Bishop. I dont know how many of those
graduates actually came to work for Dallas ISD. But, as far as the city is concerned, Bishop was able to
supply a lot of the [black college educated] workers.
Terry: How have your over all experiences shaped your view of the American society?
Beal: First of all, being a part of a Christian family; my dad was a gospel preacher for over 50 yearswe
learned not to look at color a long time ago. We were taught to overlook the color a long time ago as far as
unfair treatment is concerned. I grew from early age to where I am today thinking that I dont see color. I
think that everything in my life made me a better person and I think I changed those Caucasian/white
people that I worked with and was around, for years and years, I changed their attitudes and way of
thinking about hey, Im just like you. I put my clothes on the same way. I have the ability to think just like
you and go to the same school just like you and be successful.
Terry: How would you describe Dallas then in compassion to Dallas now?
Beal: If you could, would you go back to the seventies? If yes, what would you seek to change? Mrs. Terry,
in the last sixties, blacks were more able to move across the Trinity River at that time and buy homes and
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work on jobs. Things begin to open up in the last sixties so by the late seventies. The blacks were pushing
towards DeSoto, Cedar Hill, Duncanville and even Lancaster. So, things begin to open up because blacks
were more able, blacks begin to show knowledge of what was going on in the city of Dallas as far as living
conditions were concerned; as far where the best job were. I think that as an individual, I begin to see the
big picture. The big picture was that of you can graduate for high school and go to college and get you a
degree in whatever you think your area is, you can be successful. And so what Ive seen in the past is
Blacks literally begin to take over the south Dallas area into DeSoto, Red Oak, Cedar Hill, and Duncanville.
And so treatment of all mankind began to change in the seventies. You can see it today that even in
DeSoto we are working together. There are only a few old heads in Lancaster, Duncanville, DeSoto, and
maybe Red Oak who are conservative; they dont want to see changes and they werent too happy about
black advancing and now the blacks are the administrator. Theres a black superintendent; majority of them
are on the school board and city council [] theyre black.
Terry: So, if you could go back to the seventies, what would you change?
Beal: If I could go back to the seventies, I would be veru reluctant to look at Dallas as a predominantly
white populated area with Republican ideals and start looking at it as a place where all men could be
successful and feel good about treatment from all people.
Terry: Well, alrighty! Thank you so much for this interview and []
Beal: Oh, youre welcome
Terry: I greatly appreciate it.