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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Alice Battle, February 20, 2001. Interview K-0523. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction to Martin Luther King's assassination

Battle describes her reaction to Martin Luther King's assassination. For reasons she cannot explain, she felt deeply sad about her daughter at school. The assassination seems to have drawn into focus the depths of racial discrimination.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Alice Battle, February 20, 2001. Interview K-0523. 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

BG: During the late 60s, in the spring of ’68 is when Martin Luther King was assassinated and then ’69 there must have been uprisings still going on in the South. What role did these events have on how the students used what was going on in school? AB: The students were always angry. I know I was just really sad. I had been over to a meeting at the central office and--. Was Martin Luther killed in ’68? BG: I thought it was in ’68. AB: But something had happened and I came back to school and I remember that I was just so sad and I may had been crying because ( ) had just gone to first grade and my baby is in school with people that hate her. I was just so sad but the focus was on her just going to school. I can’t put it into words, but I can feel it. BG: Did she come home? AB: No. BG: Did she share that same feeling with you? AB: No, she didn’t even know it had happened. She didn’t know a thing about it. BG: She didn’t feel--? AB: No. BG: It was a mother’s worry. AB: Yes, right. BG: Certainly that hate sounded like it was just there at the high school and the anger. Did you perceive all the students were angry? Were the black students just angry? AB: Primarily the black boys and some black girls. I can remember some of the students were even angry with black teachers. BG: Why? AB: I never understood why. I think they felt like everyone was going to discriminate against them. BG: Even the black teachers? AB: Yes. BG: Did they see a change in your teaching style? AB: I don’t whether they did or not but I’m sure there was a change because I wanted them to be certain that I was not going to discriminate against anybody no matter what the color. I tried to make certain to call on everybody and that I was going to even it up. I wasn’t going to let somebody dominate the classroom. Everyone was going to have equal opportunity to perform. I think maybe I did it at Lincoln but I was more obvious, you know, aware of making it equal.