Self-reliant black community under segregation
Peerman recalls pre-integration Chapel Hill, a diverse place but a place where the black community "stayed pretty much to themselves," patronizing black-owned business and entertaining themselves with church- and school-related activities.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Joanne Peerman, February 24, 2001. Interview K-0557. 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: I would like to start by asking you a broad question: what was it like growing up in Chapel Hill—if you did grow up in Chapel Hill?
JP: Yes I did. My earliest memory was, I believe, second grade, when we moved here from Southern Pines, North Carolina. I entered the school system in the second grade and we went through to twelfth, graduation.
It was a normal childhood as far as I recall. It was just Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill seemed to be different from some other areas of North Carolina that were very racially tense. Chapel Hill had the university so there was a lot of diversity here already. You would walk down the street and see people dressed in foreign outfits. It was diversity from day one almost. Everybody had their differences.
The black community stayed pretty much to themselves. We had our own areas of town: the funeral homes, the restaurants. The school system and the churches were the biggest form of entertainment and outlet from what I recall as a child. Activities at school, everybody’s lives revolved around those. We waited until the weekend to go to athletic activities, either football or basketball games. It was just a fun time, either out at a stadium or seeing a parade. Everybody pretty much stayed to themselves. The black community stayed to themselves. And the white community, you know, was separate and apart.