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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 >>

Connecting violence to racism

Lorie argues that racism manifests violence. While at Chapel Hill, she advocated for fair treatment for black and white students. However, school officials continued to overlook black students. As a result, a riot ensued. To Lorie, the riot reflected whites' ignorance of the losses wrought by desegregation.

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

MELISSA FROEMMING:
Well, parents of black students, did you have any kind of interaction with them?
BARBARA LORIE:
No, no, I had no connection with those parents. Because they just didn't come to the school. They really didn't. It was, god, it was just incredible. It was too scary, I don't blame them. You know, there just wasn't anything out there for them. It wasn't until… One of the big units that I taught was on violence. It was really easy to teach about violence and talk about Julius Caesar. There was an article in the New Yorker - there was a movie called Bonnie and Clyde that came out at that time. The reviewer had panned it. I saw that movie and I thought it was one of the most brilliant movies that had ever been made in America because it personified, it glorified violence. Okay. And the thing with our country is that we glorify violence on every occasion, you know. This is so much a part of our culture. Look at this guy Earnhardt that just cracked up against a wall on a, you know, and everybody is mourning him. What was he doing? He was driving cars, at a hundred and eighty miles an hour around a damn circle, you know? What the hell is that all about, for god's sake? The violence that permeates the American culture, it's everywhere. It is glorified. I was trying to show how the violence of integration, the violence of desegregation, had simply fed in to the violence that is a part of our country. I can't even, you know, it's a course. I'm not going to give you the course today. But I felt that it was so significant that our children see that movie, and be able to physically perceive what was happening to their bodies as they were witnessing this violence. So I took, I prevailed upon this poor principal, this poor woman… I mean, I really hope she forgives me wherever she is, you know, to let me take every sophomore kid, I had 90 kids. So I got these parents and these 90 kids into buses and we went over to the movie theater and we saw this movie. Of course the parents were just "Ahhh! What has she done?" So when P.T.A. Back to School Night came, I had parents who lambasted me like you wouldn't believe. [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
BARBARA LORIE:
They were just, they leveled me with what was I trying to do? I said, well, all you have to do is look at the television at six 'o clock at night, listen to Jesse Helms, look at the sheriff in Birmingham, Alabama, look at the black children that were killed at the church. You know I preceded to - look at the men who were killed, look at the boys who were killed at the bowling alley, look at… You think I can stand here and not teach about violence? Now we have it glorified in the cinema. So I went on and tried to - why did I bring that up? I don't know. I don't know why I brought it up.
MELISSA FROEMMING:
Violence in the schools?
BARBARA LORIE:
Violence in the schools, oh right, right. I said, we're going to have violence in our schools because we're not addressing the problem of racism. We're not addressing it within ourselves, and we're sure not addressing it in the halls of Chapel Hill High School. So that year, the year after I left, that would have been the fourth year of integration, Chapel Hill just came apart. It just came apart. Those black kids had had it, and they went in there, and they just tore apart the records, they destroyed the records office. They beat up some teachers, one of my sons got beat up who was there.
MELISSA FROEMMING:
This is at Chapel Hill High School?
BARBARA LORIE:
Yeah, right.
MELISSA FROEMMING:
Is this when they locked the doors, and, that was it?
BARBARA LORIE:
Right, that was it.
MELISSA FROEMMING:
That's interesting to hear. All I knew was that the black students had locked the doors—
BARBARA LORIE:
It was just so scary. We had to close the school down for four days - for four or five days, until things could calm down. The eruption of the violence was a natural outcome of our not understanding and being more cognizant of what it was for these children to be put into this school. And what it was for our white children. Both white and black children were suffering. I don't know, we could have done it, but I don't know, there was anybody around teaching us. There wasn't anybody teaching the superintendent, what did he know? Well, we had laws coming down from the Supreme Court. Our churches aren't integrated. So how the hell are we supposed to know each other?...