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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kathryn Cheek, March 27, 2003. Interview K-0203. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Black girls victimize white girls in desegregated school

Cheek remembers desegregation as a violent and threatening time in Chapel Hill. She recalls that during the desegregation process, black girls at her junior high school preyed on white girls who visited the bathroom, and that in high school, she needed protection from black men who harassed white girls.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kathryn Cheek, March 27, 2003. Interview K-0203. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

SUSAN UPTON:
Do you remember any other situations?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
I remember just in high school-well no, this was in junior high too. This was still at Phillips. I remember being scared to go in the bathrooms.
SUSAN UPTON:
Really? How come?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Because the black girls would be waiting for you in the bathrooms and they would rip your post earrings out of your ears and that kind of stuff. I remember that you never went to the bathroom by yourself, and if you could hold it, you never went to the bathroom.
SUSAN UPTON:
Well, did you have-was there much interaction between the black students and the white students?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Some it was very-you know there was a group of, or a pocket of "trouble makers" and then everyone else was okay. I remember that there was this one girl that was in chorus with me and she threatened me the whole time that she was going to kill me and this and that kind of stuff. But that was the exception, not the normal.
SUSAN UPTON:
That's interesting. Was anything ever done about it, the different problems?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
No.
SUSAN UPTON:
Did it change any in high school?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Yeah, high school got a little bit better. There was still a pocket of kids that back then-I don't know what high school is like now, but back then there was an area in the back of the high school- this was the old Chapel Hill High School, I mean the original Chapel Hill High School on Homestead. And kids would go out there and smoke and stuff. You weren't allowed to smoke, but they did. And um, There would always be a pocket of guys, black guys particularly, that were starting trouble and picking fights and this and that and the other. I remember having to be protected for awhile because black guys would make inappropriate remarks to white girls walking down the halls and so forth. But I don't remember high school being as big a deal as junior high.
SUSAN UPTON:
Really? Like, being protected, did you mean by other guy students?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Yeah.
SUSAN UPTON:
Do you have any idea why it got better in high school?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Probably just time would be my guess. I mean this was the early seventies. I graduated in seventy-three so this would have been very early seventies and I guess things were just getting better in general at that point. There was a new principal, I remember-a new principal had come int the high schools and that was one of his major things was to clam the unrest and get the black white issues solved and that kind of stuff.