Race and Desegregation: Asheville's Stephens-Lee High School
Despite the many difficulties imposed by segregation, Stephens-Lee's graduates were proud of the school and its educational program. The school's famed marching band reflected this fierce pride, as Richard Bowman, class of 1951, recalled:
"We were the raggediest [marching] band in Asheville, because our uniforms were hand-me-downs from the white schools. We didn't have money in the budget to buy nice, new uniforms. In fact, some of the students didn't have uniforms. They had only a hat. Maybe a uniform hat, but no uniform pants or clothes. But we had rhythm, and we would always get more applause coming down Patton Avenue than anyone, I think, because of the rhythm that we had. Miss Chappell taught the majorettes when I was in high school, and I have not seen a band to this day that marched with the rhythm in the form that she had the majorettes doing."
Stephens-Lee Alumni Association member Everette Parrish remembered the excellence of the school faculty. "Just about all our faculty had their masters degrees, and a few were working on their doctorates, which means we got the benefit of the latest in education." Through the Alumni Association, Navies has organized community outreach efforts including oral history workshops for Asheville youth, a forum celebrating the opening of the Stephens-Lee Community Center, and a presentation on her work at UNC-Asheville.
The Southern Oral History Program
Center for the Study of the American South
Love House and Hutchins Forum
410 East Franklin St., CB# 9127, UNC-CH
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9127