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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 >>

Coach Peerman's influence on black students

Here, Couch talks about Coach Peerman, a larger-than-life figure in the halls of Lincoln and Chapel Hill High School. Peerman pulled Couch out of a fight and made him try out for football, at which Couch later excelled.

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

TC: Good, good. Talk about, I’m, they’ll tell you who their brother was. Peerman, he’s my man. He treated me, my man. RG: Like a father. TC: That’s right. My man. I’m his boy. RG: Tears in your eyes. TC: That’s right. He’s my man. RG: What was it about him that made him so close to you? TC: Changed my life. My ninth grade year, he changed my life. I was a tough boy, ‘cause I grew up tough. Very tough. I wasn’t, outside of my home I was tough. Inside my home I knew the rules. So when I was on the school property I was tough, I was a tough boy. So I guess I, the teachers, I was kicking some boy’s ass. Peerman come up to me and told me hey, shook me around a little bit and told me hey, you need to come out for football. This ain’t, this ain’t the way. And for some reason he and I sort of bonded that day. And he designed everything for me from then on. Captain of the team, I’m the leader. I remember what he gave me. It was just— RG: Did you consider yourself a leader before Coach Peerman got a hold of you? TC: Yeah, sure, in my neighborhood. I was the man. I’m the front guy, you know, we’re playing JV ball and sandlot ball, I’m the go-to guy. So you know. I’m not going to let the big guys talk to my partners. You know, I’m probably the biggest guy in my group or next to the biggest guy in my group. So I had to make the, I’m a stand-up guy. Stand-up guy. At home, you know all the parties were at my house, we had everything at my house. That type of, a lot of friends, now. I tell you, Keith, she knows who I am. Yeah, Keith know who I am. She know I’m taking names. I’m not going to let them walk away with it. No way. I ain’t letting the bad boys in, no matter who they are, you’re not good, you can’t come in. You don’t have an X on your hand, stay outside. That’s the way it works. I got children now. The most important thing to me are my kids. I’m raising them to be leaders. To be economically sound in this country. To be able to create jobs for their brothers and their sisters.