Two audio clips from an interview with Theron and Naomi Goynes by Claytee D. White on June 28 and July 12, 2012. In the clips, Theron and Naomi remember their early years in the Las Vegas schools and the advent of desegregation.
Theron and Naomi Goynes oral history interview, 2012 June 28. OH-00708. [Audio recording] Oral History Research Center, Special Collections and Archives, University Libraries, University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Las Vega
Standardized Rights Statement
Well, when I came here I started teaching kindergarten. In 1964 we did not have all-day kindergartens and I was at Madison Elementary School where I shared a classroom with another lady and I would teach kindergarten from eight until twelve noon and then she would come in from twelve noon until four. I think it was four hours. We shared a classroom and we enjoyed it. She was a white teacher and I'm the black teacher. And we just had a grand time. In fact, we still communicate with each other. I tell you another thing when I came here, being a kindergarten teacher, I taught my students it was not a thing that you come in and play, and be quiet. We taught students. I did. In fact, I taught reading, writing, arithmetic. Were the kindergarten students ready for that? Yes, they are ready. But you have to get them ready, which I involved my parents. Now, this is something I always believe in. If you're going to educate my child, I need to be involved. So if I'm going to educate your child, you need to be involved. So I did get my parents involved. 49 Also, taught DISTAR Reading. I tell you every time I traveled I wanted to find teaching material for my students. When I traveled to Chicago, I had a friend there. She was a teacher and she taught DISTAR Reading. So would you spell that word? D-I-S-T-A-R. So I taught DISTAR Readingfor the first year. It was such an excellent program. I brought it to the district and they did adopt the program. So we did adopt DISTAR Reading for Clark County School District. I don't know how many schools used it. But my students were so advanced when you walked into my classroom, we did not play, we did not hit, we were working. See, we had learning stations and I would take those children and read. We would read DISTAR. It's a phonetic program. And we sound out everything and then we say it fast. My kids were reading. Tell me about race relations related to schools in Las Vegas and North Las Vegas. Well, as far as Las Vegas is concerned, at that time we were all segregated. In other words, if you were segregated, they would call us the Westside. That's how we got the Westside schools. I can remember then when we came here it seems like most of the new teachers that came to the district with no experience or anything, they were sent to the Westside and mostly where the black students were. And sometimes when you would go into classrooms, you know, the students were there, the teachers were there, and a lot of times the teachers wouldjust give kids assignments and let them go to the back of the room and work on a workbook if they knew what they were doing or not. It was kind of rough then. So when they decided to desegregate, the thing was to have the black students, some bus, to the other side of town so they could mix with the other students. The white students, most of the white students were bussed to the Westside. That's when they called them sixth grade centers. So they were bussed in the sixth grade only? Yes, just the sixth grade. And then I know from being in some of the other schools some of the parents were reluctant and they didn't want their students to come to the Westside. And then the 73 parents on the Westside were upset because their students had to leave home so early, ride the school buses, just to get to the other side of town so they could desegregate. They called it forced bussing at the time. The NAACP got together in meetings and said, well, if you're going to force our kids, in order to implement that desegregation law, you're going to have to bus some, quote, other students into West Las Vegas area in order to integrate schools and we're going to have to do the same thing with the faculty, with the teachers, even the administration, principals and this type thing. Said we're going to go all the way with that part of the integration program. They said, now, how are we going to do that, especially with the principals? And this became a sore point. First of all, they said, well, we're going to make that decision for them. I'll use myself as an example. I was one of the first ones. I was told. I didn't ask did I want to go; I was told you're going. Andwho told you that? Dr. Kenny Guinn. I was principal at Highland Elementary School. He said, "We're going to move you." I said, "I beg your pardon?" He said, "Yes, we're going to move you." I said, "Well, what do you mean? Where am I going?" He said, "Well, we'll let you know." And I said, "Well, do I have anything to say about it?" He said, "Yes, you can have something to say about it." He said, "How soon can you be ready?" This was on a Thursday. Andyou told him you needed to talk to your family. Yes, I needed to talk to my family. He said, "Well, you do that; you've got the weekend." This was on a Thursday. He said, "Monday will be your last day at Highland." Oh. "Where am I going?" He said to Ruth Fyfe school. Where? He said up on Bonanza. What was the name of the school? Ruth Fyfe. I said, "Well." And they said, "Mr. Goynes, well, well what? I just told you where 74 you're going." I said, "Well, let me make one request; since this is Thursday and I got Friday, Saturday and Sunday, my off days, to get ready, and Monday I'll be going over, I said, can you put it off a day or two? Let me walk the community of Ruth Fyfe up there and see what it's like." And Dr. Guinn said, "Oh, what do you mean see what it's like?" He said, "You've got a 'smithering' of black kids up there, maybe a dozen or so." I said, well, okay. So that weekend I walked a couple of streets up there because I knew a couple of people. I told them who I was and I was coming in as principal.