Post-integration decline of black educational leadership
After a successful year at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS), Couch graduated. The following year, black leaders at CHHS were demoted or fired. This excerpt reveals Couch's ambivalence about race relations in North Carolina—his determination to create change clashes with his resignation that sometimes, racial etiquette cannot be changed. He knew that in a state like North Carolina, white parents would not permit black leaders to hold authority over their children.
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: Did you have any information about what happened after you left?
RG: Because it seems to me—
TC: It deteriorated the next year. They fired Peerman, they demoted Peerman from head coach, they had two head coaches, him and Colton, they demoted him over to the junior high school. It was a setup the first year.
RG: I thought that he was assistant coach, that Mr. Colton was the head coach. Is that not—
TC: We, it was a dual, we saw it as a dual head coaching situation there.
RG: Okay, so—
TC: We never saw, only thing I saw Colton as head coach of was the basketball team, ‘cause when basketball season came, Peerman was not the basketball coach. But the next following year, the school went haywire. They threw Mr. McDougle out, they got rid of everybody, split it up, sent everybody everywhere, and they went on to being white as usual. Which is the normal function, you know that. If there’s a crisis up North in New York, you know how they handle it. They water it down, and you know, damage control right here and there, and then, we’ll get back to it. Yeah, it happened. My sister was there, still left there, you know.
RG: So Mr. Peerman got fired and went to the junior high school the next year?
TC: Demoted, I think.
TC: He had a picture of me on the back of his clipboard every day, you know. He got demoted his first, the next year, and I think by the time, before I left college they had moved him out completely. Because I came back and coached high school when I was in college.
RG: What were your thoughts about Mr. McDougle being assistant principal?
TC: Well we knew, well we knew that he wasn’t going to be the principal. I mean this is North Carolina, you know. We had just left an all-black situation and the way things work in North Carolina, they don’t let black people run their things, they don’t let black people run their children, never have. So we weren’t fooled by that. We knew that it was going to be limited, limited there. We weren’t fooled at all, we had all discussed that way, way ahead of time.