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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Burnis Hackney, February 5, 2001. Interview K-0547. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Differential treatment of black and white students at Chapel Hill High School

Hackney describes the difference in discipline at Lincoln and Chapel Hill High Schools. Academic achievement was paramount at CHHS, and personal appearance and behavior mattered little. Black students still had to worry about their conduct, though, because they were treated differently than white students.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Burnis Hackney, February 5, 2001. Interview K-0547. 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

BG: What about the discipline at the high school, going between classes, out on the school yard, you mentioned that you didn’t’ see any smoking or drinking at Lincoln. Can you compare those things about behavior in the schoolyard, behavior in the school, and how the schools treated it? BH: Well, there’s an obvious difference. We had already detected that many, many years even when we were at Northside. It’s ironic; Northside was really only a few blocks--. Northside was closer to Chapel Hill High than it was to Lincoln and so in passing you would see the white students on the other side of Franklin Street smoking the cigarettes at Ross Norwood’s service station in clear view of the schoolyard. Nobody was trying to hide from the either their parents, the community, or the school officials. This is something we had learned from elementary school that as far as personal freedoms, discipline, conduct and there would be a big, big difference there. There was a different standard and we didn’t learn anything different when we went to Chapel Hill High. The personal conduct was secondary. The smoking, the dress, and your actions as long as you achieved academically, and as long as you were white everything was still okay. The black side of that, the dark side of that to use a bad metaphor would be that no matter what the rules are as a black person you still have a double standard. You can’t just adopt any kind of conduct or subscribe to a lifestyle where there is no discipline involved even though the rules have been removed, and maybe that’s the dilemma that occurred subsequently is that you drop the rules but still once you get into certain situations you’re going to be treated differently depending on whether you are black or whether you are not. You may be doing the same conduct but the penalty could still be there. BG: Are you saying, Burnis, that if you had the same liberal kind of behavior that the whites had that you might be penalized for it? BH: The penalty will be more severe if in the other case there may not even be a penalty. You are absolutely right; if you are white then maybe the penalty would not be, but it definitely would be more severe for a black person.