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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Thurman Couch, February 12, 2001. Interview K-0537. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Student activities shape student experience

The marching band at Lincoln High School, according to Couch, was the "heart and soul of the school," but Couch, a stand-out athlete, soon changes the subject to football and the iconic Coach Peerman, who coached one Lincoln team to a season in which opponents failed to score against them even once. To Couch, the football team seems to have captured the essence of the black community—playing on the team was a spiritual experience, one that required discipline and hard work, and one that was intensely affecting and intensely rewarding.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Thurman Couch, February 12, 2001. Interview K-0537. 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: Let’s leave that for a few minutes, and I do want to go into that, but I want to hear more about the school, and let’s talk about the band. What— TC: The band? Whew. Man, you know what it’s like to be in the band, to march for, I mean, ‘cause everybody couldn’t be in the band, you got Mr. Edgerson who’s over there and got the number one band. Pride, man. Pride. The band was the pride, the heart and soul of the school. The heart and soul of the school, you understand? Do you know what the band did on Christmas, to see your own people march down Franklin Street with the best band in the whole county? To be able to run rings around the kids down the street who got all the new equipment and everything? That was exciting. But I think the strong point of Lincoln was our athletics. We were all, we were all the troops, man. We were soldiers. In order to, you paid a price to build a football team run by Peerman, or to play on the basketball team or be on the track team. Not only did you have to be a good student, you had to be a good person. RG: What did he do that made you say that? That you had to be a good person? TC: Because you know, he made you be a man. I’m telling you, he made you be a man. He worked you ‘till you, he worked you beyond the point that you thought you could ever go. And when you saw the reward for it, man, there was nothing like it. When he practices you for two and a half hours and tells you you got to run down Merritt Mill Road and then go down to Smith Level Road and go up and down that hill, that’s serious. It made men out of us. And he talked to us. I mean, listen, in, that was the greatest camaraderie that anybody could have. To, I was on the undefeated team. Unscored upon. I’d sit on the bench, when he’d look down at me I’d turn my head. I went to college and them guys ahead of me who I know would’ve been in the NFL, twice as good as I am, never got a chance. So I believe in God, too, these things there, and he believed it too. That’s one thing I remember, we were very spiritual. Let’s don’t forget our spiritual component here. I don’t want to keep talking and not talk about the spiritual component. That’s very important. You know, we all put God first, and I don’t think there was an athlete at the school, or a student that didn’t believe that God was the reason that we could do what we wanted to, because we were the chosen people, we felt like. We were the chosen people.