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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Barbara Lorie, February 26, 2001. Interview K-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Personal experiences allowed Lorie to identify with black civil rights activists

The suicide of Lorie's ex-husband and the segregated nature of Chapel Hill radicalized her outlook on race. She linked her traumatic experience with those of black activists and supported civil rights protests.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Barbara Lorie, February 26, 2001. Interview K-0211. 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

Yeah, at UNC, Carolina. And that was traumatic, because that was let's see, 1958. And Chapel Hill, Carolina, didn't accept women as freshmen, and they barely accepted women in the upper grades. And there was a lot of hostility, and I just didn't understand it. I mean I was sort of, very naive. I was so naive when I look back on it, that it's amazing that I survived. But that first year I entered, there was something like two or three hundred women on campus. I think I had one woman professor, Anne Scott, in History, who was absolutely brilliant. And at that time, my former husband committed suicide, so I was absolutely wacko emotionally, and trying to keep myself together, go to school, take care of my children. Somehow survive. Which I did. You know, everybody does, you finally do. And finally in the '60s, it was early '61 I believe it was, that the Greensboro sit-ins started in the dime stores. My family had always had black servants, so I was raised with blacks, I knew blacks, I was comfortable with them. But of course, it was in a very plantation kind of mind. What happened was that simultaneous to my husband committing suicide to coming to a university which was totally segregated, which was so racist, so, and was patriarchal to the endth degree, what happened was that the inside of me changed so radically that I was able to understand these black students in Greensboro. I began to, the whole picture began to open up to me, and when I was - I think it was - I really don't remember the year, let's say '61 or so, somewhere around there, that the students in Chapel Hill began to march. I was standing on Franklin Street right next to the Varsity Theater, where there was a newspaper shop there that had been there forever and ever and ever. I was standing outside that, and these students were coming up the street. I turned to this man, and I said, "What is that all about? What's happening here?" And he said, "Oh, those niggers, you know, the niggers they want something more than they've got." First of all, that word was [unclear] in my family, that word was a word that was so beholden of just, you know, I never heard it, I just never heard it. I was so shocked, that it just paralyzed me. I began to see. Of course, we had television, so I was aware of things happening all over certain places in the South. But I got it. I got it inside of myself. And I identified with those young people marching in such a radical way, that it was just one of those epiphanies that happen to you. You know, like you coming from Tampa to Western North Carolina, it was an epiphany you just, you know, something changes radically inside of you. I didn't get the whole picture, but I knew that I would never be the same...