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

City politicians impede, religious groups support civil rights activism

Pollitt paints the Community Church as central to the Chapel Hill civil rights movement. He unveils the liberal fa├žade of local politicians to reveal their lack of support for the civil rights movement. Chapel Hill officials openly violated activists' constitutional rights.

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

...If you wanted to do it, the Community Church was the center. And that's were you'd call and say I can't do it today, can I do it Tuesday? Yeah, go to so and so. And then they'd go to the church and have a prayer and march down Main Street to the post office, and have some speeches on the bullhorn and go back. I didn't do any of those. I didn't think—I would picket— but I thought it was a waste of my time, I could do other things. Harold Foster refused to move from some place once and they arrested him for obstructing, and Floyd McKissock and I represented him before the court who was very sympathetic to us. One interesting thing is that the police were doing a lot of overtime, and they were working very hard. And the chief was, he would be humming, "We Shall Overcome" or something to himself, subconsciously. [Laughter] The city council passed an ordinance saying you can't picket after dark, because that's when the vigilantes come; it's not unreasonable, except it's unconstitutional. The constitution does not go down with the sun. So we arranged to get the three women who had taught the district court judge in Sunday school [Laughter] to go down to the police station after dark, and to all have candles, and the three women would read the bill of rights, and then they'd all be arrested. So the way it worked, Charlie Jones, the minister, called the chief and said we're going to violate the ordinance, we'll be there at 8:00, and so on. And the chief called the mayor, and the mayor came down to the church, and said, for some reason it needs two readings to take effect—you have to read it at consecutive things for some reason, make believe reasons. And it hasn't had the second reading yet, so it's not in effect. We said, okay, we'll wait. And it never had a second reading. So there are a lot of little stories like that.