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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, February 22, 2001. Interview K-0215. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Depth of student support of civil rights boycotts in Chapel Hill

Pollitt describes a supportive UNC student body, willing to forgo physical needs and sacrifice personal safety to protest against segregation. Although the Ku Klux Klan tried to scare civil rights protesters, Pollitt reveals the diminished power of the white supremacist group.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, February 22, 2001. Interview K-0215. 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

DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Oh, there was a lot of support. I mean, again, you had the student body resolve not to patronize all these segregationist things, and the interfraternity council decided that— one of the sororities had their Spring Banquet at the Pines to show that they were going to go to the Pines. But by far and large, the student organizations supported the boycott. And then there was a spring break—Easter—there was a sit in at the post office and fast. And the Ku Klux Klan came to town—
DAVID POTORTI:
Tell me about that; there was a fast on the steps—
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yes, for about a week. And they could drink water, and they would go across the street to the Presbyterian church when they had to go to the bathroom. So that was going on, and the Ku Klux Klan came Easter eve and they didn't do anything, they rode around the block three or four times and rode out to a farm and tried to burn a cross and weren't very successful. A bunch of Duke students were there, and they sang the Old Rugged Cross, and the guy in charge said let's move on, and the Duke students said no, let's sing the second verse. It was a pretty dismal failure to intimidate anybody.
DAVID POTORTI:
So you're saying the Duke students were members of the group—?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
No, they were there for a good time. They all had their beer cans and everything. [Laughter]
DAVID POTORTI:
Were they purposely trying to screw it up?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Yeah, I guess. Or maybe just youthful exuberance.
DAVID POTORTI:
And these [KKK] guys just came from the countryside?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
They all looked like JC Penny shoe clerks, unemployed furniture workers or something. It wasn't very ferocious. In anticipation, you thought it would be. So that went on and on and on.