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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racial harmony before integration

In this excerpt, Battle describes the strategies he and other football players at Lincoln High School used to compensate for the team's lack of resources. The football team at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill contributed a lot of equipment despite the fact that the school excluded African Americans. Battle uses the team's generosity to illustrate the generally congenial relations between white and black Chapel Hillians before integration, when whites were not forced to interact with blacks.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. 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

RG: How did you do against these schools that were 3A and 4A? FB: Well, we played in 3A division, even though we, student population would have been probably a 2A school, but we were classified as 3A. We won championships there. At 4A, we probably, we probably had a split with Hillside, 2-2, at that time. (pause) Small thing probably I’d like to mention in terms equipment, special football equipment. We received a lot of our equipment from Carolina – we had a pretty good relationship with Carolina at the time. And we would get shoulder pads, helmets, hip pads, knee pads, stuff like that from them. And uniforms, we generally we were able to purchase our uniforms through fundraising and other things, other events. But Carolina was quite helpful. Even the trainers of Carolina football teams. Sometimes we’d encounter some injuries, where we’d need to have a whirlpool or something like that, and the athletic trainer from Carolina would let us come down there, sit in the whirlpool or hot (?) or whatever. So they worked with us on that. RG: Was Morris Mason involved in any of that? (inaud) recovery from injuries? FB: I think Morris was behind it. It’s always good to have somebody on staff that you know and who can relate to some of the problems that we were experiencing. And especially when you’re talking about lack of resources. He was behind it, because he also had a lot of, some of the times we had some of the football players would come down and watch us practice and give us tips on what to do and whatever. RG: Was Carolina integrated at the time you were playing or were these all white players who were coming down to give you tips? FB: These were mainly white players that were coming down to give us tips. Carolina at that time was not integrated, in terms of the – the school was somewhat integrated, but the athletic teams were not. RG: So you really had a mixed bag of relationships with the white community, it sounds like. You had some whites who dealt with you in a nasty way, and some whites who dealt with you in a very positive way. FB: That is true. And it’s similar to what you experience today. (laughs) RG: What about when you would be playing in your neighborhood? Did the blacks and whites interact there? FB: Yeah, we had a pretty good relation with the blacks and whites there. There were whites that would come down and play with us, (?). It didn’t seem to have as much tension as you have today. I feel a lot more tension in terms of relationships, the co-existence of relationships, with white people today as I have experienced in the past. Because I guess one of the things, when you saw a white and he wanted to interact with you, you could rest assured, during that time, that he was genuine. And now they do it not out of necessity, but sometimes they are not genuine in the interaction they have with you, but it’s just a process that you go through.