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Oral History Interview with Thurman Couch, February 12, 2001. Interview K-0537. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Thurman Couch, a student at Lincoln High School, and among the first African American students to enter Chapel Hill High School, describes his experiences in segregated and desegregated schools. To Couch, the story of integration is a story of the decline of black tradition and the erosion of ties between schools and communities. A standout athlete, Couch complains that the sports programs and the marching band, programs which gave Lincoln High its identity and served as essential conduits between black schools and black neighborhoods, lost some of their character under integration. Couch speaks passionately about the traditions of the pre-integration black community and places all-black schools at the center; he speaks equally passionately about the damage to the black community brought about by integration, in particular the loss of African American economic independence. This interview radiates with pride and frustration, spirituality and indignation.
    Excerpts
  • Dynamics of segregation
  • Deep ties between students and teachers
  • Sports instill pride
  • Inspiring racial awareness and resistance
  • Teachers influence students' lives
  • Student activities shape student experience
  • Anger at racist treatment
  • Black community traditions and interdependence
  • Black determination to weather integration
  • Post-integration decline of black educational leadership
  • White teachers treat black students poorly
  • Economic discrimination hurts African Americans
  • Coach Peerman's influence on black students
  • Worsening economic discrimination against African Americans
  • African Americans in Chapel Hill lack the courage to resist racism
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • School integration--North Carolina--Chapel Hill
  • African Americans--North Carolina--Chapel Hill
  • Lincoln High School (Chapel Hill, N.C.)
  • Civil rights demonstrations--North Carolina--Chapel Hill
  • Couch, Thurman
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.