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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 >>

Physical and non-physical attacks of anti-desegregation forces

Pollitt discusses the physical and non-physical harassment he and other civil rights activists faced. Press coverage of vociferous anti-desegregation efforts questioned gender conventions and the concept of southern gentility. The persistence of civil rights activists likewise challenged the longevity of pro-segregation forces.

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:
Charlie somebody. It'll come to me. But these people who sponsor educational trips and boats on Grecian Isles, have to have some education, and somehow he was in with them, so he could go on boat trips and recite poetry, Grecian poetry, or whatever. He and I, and a guy named Bill Daugherty, who later became a trustee here, a black fella, he was getting his advanced degree in public health, had the Pines restaurant, from 6 to 7 or something like that, where we would be there, the three of us picketing. And then people who would be driving out 54 toward Raleigh would, we got a lot of shouts and we got a lot of beer cans—
DAVID POTORTI:
Full, or empty?
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
Whatever, you know. And abuse. Nobody ever stopped to beat us up, but we got a lot of things thrown at us. And that was as much violence pretty much as anywhere. Except, I suppose you've heard about down Franklin street there used to be a store, the Rockpile, it was made out of rocks. And that was sort of a center for the Ku Klux Klan. And three or four kids went in there to demand service, and they beat them up, and they threw some acid on them. And that was the Rockpile. And then there was some guy who was driving a big truck, and he lost his way, an interstate trucker, and he came through town instead of bypassing. He went down Franklin, and his brakes failed, and he went right into the Rockpile, and demolished it. [Laughter] God was speaking! Really, the guy didn't know anything about North Carolina, and there he was. And the other one was out at Watts Grill, this was the Duke people predominantly. The Chapel Hill newspaper said this was a bunch of college hijinks, like swallowing goldfish or something, and not very serious. And the adults aren't taking part. So the Duke Divinity school decided they would take part. And about five or six of them came over, and they were going to go to Watts Grill out on the highway, and they let them in, and then they started to hit them with a baseball bat, and then the proprietor pissed on them. And that made all the news. And that sort of turned the tide, really. Because I remember the N&O came out with an editorial saying that's not the way southern women should act. [Laughter]
DAVID POTORTI:
No kidding!
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
I think our little harassment at the Pines—it was interesting that Bill Daughtery was was later a trustee, and he became head of the public health department at the University of Massachusetts. And I knew him pretty well, and they had been in Egypt for the World Health Organization, and their son was the same age as my son, and it was a sports bug, he knew all the batting averages and everything, he was a very bright kid. And I took him and my son to a basketball game one Saturday afternoon, and we got out about five, and I said you want some ice cream? And they said, yeah, let's get some ice cream. So there was at Glen Lenox shopping center, there was sort of a chain place, milk and dairy—The Dairy Bar—So we went to the Dairy Bar to get ice cream. In all innocence. [interruption]
DAVID POTORTI:
So you're at the dairy bar, and the guys says—
DANIEL H. POLLITT:
He says, you're using kids to integrate! And I said, no we're not. This is not a sit-in. We just want some ice cream. [Laughter] And the guy says, well, you know I'm not going to serve you. Now get out or I'm going to call the cops. And I said, wait, can I use your phone? And I called Mrs. Daughtery, and I said the ball game's over, and I'm here with the two kids to buy ice cream, and suddenly we're in the middle of a sit-in, and they're going to call the cops. What should I do? And she says, let him get arrested. So I said, the kid's mother says arrest us. And the guy says, here's your goddamn ice cream! And he served us, and we left.
DAVID POTORTI:
It was just easier.