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Local woman remembers what it was like to teach when schools were first integrated

READ MORE: Local woman remembers what it was like to teach when schools were first integrated
It has been 40 years since New Hanover public schools were integrated, and for some who experienced it, 1968 seems like yesterday. WWAY takes a trip down memory lane with one local woman who remembers the first time she taught in an integrated school. Lethia Hankins was an English teacher at the all black Williston High School when she found out it was closing, and she had to teach at Hoggard High. "I remember it very vividly just like it was yesterday," said Hankins. "That was a shocking experience because I've never taught white students before." She remembers walking into the classroom on day one. Hankins said, "The white students were sitting on one side, the black on the other, and I had to make an effort to integrate them in the classroom." Hankins said she was fighting two battles. "One -- the white students resented me as a black teacher. The black students felt jealous because they felt that I was giving too much attention to others, so you had a tug of war type atmosphere," said Hankins. Eventually the students began to tolerate each other. "I won't say we learned to love each other, but there was a sense of tolerance," said Hankins. Hankins said, "I would like to say that everything has changed, but I cannot honestly say that. I can say we are in the process." Hankins has lived a lot of that process, both in the classroom and on the Wilmington City Council. There is a section of the Cape Fear Museum dedicated to Lethia Hankins and her experience during the integration of the New Hanover County public schools.

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