Interview with Linda Curry

Linda Curry was interviewed by Lindsay Bell on April 17, 2012.

Linda Curry was born in 1952 in Lenoir, North Carolina, and she has lived in North Carolina her entire life. Her husband, Elon University Professor Bernard Curry, is the pastor at Mt. Zion United Church of God. The interview took place at the Hospice Home of Alamance-Caswell, where her mother is currently infirmed. Her father passed away in July 2011. In addition to her mother, she has one brother, who lives in Lenoir, and a daughter, son-in-law, and grandson, who live in the Burlington area. Linda Curry had been an English Teacher at Western Alamance High School, but is now retired. The interview discusses her experiences with integration, her teaching career, her love for her home state, her current family life, and her experiences with faith.

On School Desegregation

Linda described being one of the first African American children in her grade to desegregate the all-white school:

I went to all black schools up until the sixth grade. And then – I think it was 1965 or 66 – we integrated. And we had to go to the all-white school. And in the eighth grade, I think, we got the new math. So that’s when new math came out, and I was afraid because I was the only black girl. There were four of us in the classroom: three black boys and I was the only black girl. And I was scared to move. And the three boys didn’t come to school half the time. They stayed out a lot. [LB: laughs]. I was afraid to move. And I remember Mrs. Bryant, my teacher, writing stuff on the board and she was going so fast. And I wanted to raise my hand and say, “Stop! I don’t understand, go back.” And she would turn around and ask, “Any questions? Any questions?” And when nobody raised their hand, I wasn’t about to be the first one to raise. So I lost it. And that’s where my math skills went downhill, ever since then.

Listen to the audio about Linda’s thoughts about desegregation.

On Race

Linda remarked on the differences she first noticed between high school in Lenoir and college at North Carolina A&T:

I went to A&T so it was like a totally different ballgame. Because see, in high school, everything was white. White homecoming queen, white president, and I mean white, you know, of a different race. But then when I got to A&T it was like [gasps]. I was shocked because here, you had a sea full of smart black people. The black homecoming queen. “Wow!” By this time, you know, I’m brainwashed thinking, “I can’t be homecoming queen.” Because, you know, it had to be somebody white….I remember they wanted me to run for homecoming queen but I wasn’t about to run to get disappointed. Because I felt there’s no way I could win. [LB: Didn’t want to get your hopes up.] Right, Right. Anyway, when I got to A&T and I see all this, it was like, “Wow. I really can be somebody.” So that kind of encouraged me to continue on with my education.

Listen to the audio of Linda’s thoughts on race.

On Teaching

When asked about her greatest rewards as a teacher, Linda responded:

I guess that’s my greatest reward, when they come back and tell me something I’ve said that really helped them. I always say [with] good teaching sometimes you have to close the book. That’s why I don’t believe in a lot of this testing. Sometimes you’ve got to teach with your heart.

Listen to the audio excerpt Linda’s thoughts on teaching.

On North Carolina

I always say [that] I like calling North Carolina home. It’s a good state to live in. I like the climate. You get a little taste of winter and a little taste of summer – you don’t know which sometimes! [LB: laughs] It’s good. It’s still kind of a slow pace. It’s not just the fast life. Everything still closes down at ten o’clock.

I like North Carolina and I don’t think I’d ever move. If something were to happen to my husband, and I had to marry again, if he couldn’t live in North Carolina, he would have to go. [laughs] I don’t think I’d want to live anywhere else.

Listen to the audio about North Carolina.

On her Accomplishments

I think that’s my greatest accomplishment, being able to stay in my career for the duration. And then I guess my other greatest accomplishment is having Leeya, my daughter.

Listen to the audio of Linda’s thoughts on her accomplishments.

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