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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Walter Durham, January 19 and 26, 2001. Interview K-0540. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

African American students' desire to stay at Lincoln High overlooked in 1966

Durham discusses how he and his classmates from Lincoln High School learned that Lincoln would merge with the new Chapel Hill High School in the fall of 1966. According to Durham, Lincoln High School polled the black students the spring before to see if they wanted to attend the newly integrated Chapel Hill High School. Durham recalls that he and the majority of his classmates expressed their desire to stay at Lincoln. Ultimately, their choice was not taken into consideration and all Lincoln students were notified that they would attend Chapel Hill High School just before the new school year started.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Walter Durham, January 19 and 26, 2001. Interview K-0540. 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

BOB GILGOR:
Were there any white teachers there who didn't see color? Who treated the black students the same as the white students?
WALTER DURHAM:
I'm not going to say that. Because at this point, I wasn't going to allow it anyhow. And I guess it was more me seeing white and there was so much anger bottled up into me. Even leaving Lincoln High School. We didn't have a choice in the matter. We was asked, and we had to sign a note saying did you want to go or did you want to stay. The majority wanted to stay but they didn't-I don't even know why they sent the question around.
BOB GILGOR:
So you signed something saying that you wanted to stay at Lincoln? And you think the majority of students wanted to stay at Lincoln?
WALTER DURHAM:
I know it was.
BOB GILGOR:
Did they tally up the ballots and let you know?
WALTER DURHAM:
Yes. They let you know that a majority-I don't know exactly what the ratio was.
BOB GILGOR:
Who did this vote?
WALTER DURHAM:
It came form the school system. A lot of people I talked to don't remember that.
BOB GILGOR:
When did they do that vote?
WALTER DURHAM:
I think it had to have been the end of the year '66. Because next thing we know, we got letters in the mail saying that you're going to Chapel Hill High School.
BOB GILGOR:
When did you find out you were going to Chapel Hill High School?
WALTER DURHAM:
I think it was during that summer.
BOB GILGOR:
So you didn't know until, what, a couple of months before school started?
WALTER DURHAM:
Yes.
BOB GILGOR:
And you got the letter from the school system?
WALTER DURHAM:
Yes. And they rushed us so fast. When we got out there it was three or four months before the cafeteria was even ready. So the school wasn't even completely ready the year that they sent us there.