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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Steve Cherry, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0430. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White sports fans resist integration of their beloved teams

While his athletes got along well with one another, some white fans did not like white and black athletes playing together. Cherry recalls a warning that one fan was planning to kill him. The threat made him angry.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Steve Cherry, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0430. 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

MARK JONES:
Do you think the white players got any, either within East Lincoln or in other gyms, got any negative feedback/reaction from other whites who thought that they shouldn't be…
STEVE CHERRY:
I don't think that they did now. I think they used - when we first started out at East Lincoln, I think that they got a lot of feedback, moreso from fans and parents then from athletes. I know that, I told you earlier, I had a man threaten to shoot my head off for "playing niggers" one time.
MARK JONES:
That was just a…
STEVE CHERRY:
This was a fan. This was a fan. Made a trip to the high school and came into my office in the gym and told me that he wanted - since he had known me for so long - that he wanted to make me aware of something. And I said, ‘What's that?’ He said, ‘There's a man that's going to blow your head off if you keep playing all them niggers on your basketball team.’ I said, ‘Well, I'll tell you what,’ and called the man's name, I said, ‘You better tell him to make the first shot count. ‘Cause if it don't, he's dead.’ And that's the last I ever heard of it.
MARK JONES:
Alright, that's . Inside, can you describe how you were feeling when it…
STEVE CHERRY:
Inside, I was furious. I was mad. Because at the time I had the best five players playing that I could possibly find and I was in P.E. and I was going through every gym class hunting basketball players, because we were trying to build a tradition at East Lincoln that eventually took us to the State. Got beat in the state championship game before I quit coaching. And I searched every gym class so I knew that I had the best five players at East Lincoln High School playing basketball. I knew that. And my next two, the first seven, were the best seven basketball players at East Lincoln High School. If they weren't I'd have gotten them out of that gym class and put a uniform on them.