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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Joanne Peerman, February 24, 2001. Interview K-0557. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Lincoln High's significance to the black community

Like many interviewees who attended Lincoln High School, Peerman looks back on the school as a magical place: "This is almost like a church," she says. Lincoln, according to Peerman, prepared black students for life after school through strict discipline and rigorous academics. Activities like band and sports were rallying points for the black community.

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 want to go back to the emotion that I saw on your face when you said Lincoln High School, there was a broad smile on your face and your eyes lit up. You don’t remember it. But it was very clear to me that Lincoln High School meant something to you, to the black community. Maybe you can address that—how you perceived Lincoln High School, how the black community perceived Lincoln High School. JP: To me it was just one place for bettering one’s self. A lot of kids at that time may not have been able to go any higher than high school. So that may have been their last ( ) of academically bettering themselves. To get a high school diploma at that time was the ending point for a lot of black kids. So if you succeeded there, if you met all the rigors that all the teachers were putting you through—and they were tough, those teachers were tough! Even though I was never there, you could just see it in the yearbooks, and you could see it on the expressions on their faces, and you can see how students acted in their presence, how they would even stand up straight for anything, if they were around a teacher. It was just a place of excellence. When you go into Lincoln, you act like you got some sense. Don’t come in here with none of that street stuff. This is almost like church. It’s just a place of reverence, a place to get your act together and preparing for the outside world. It was also a place for learning to play instruments, learning to use your voice and sing, learning to excel in athletics. It was a place for entertainment. Weekends, Friday nights you had games, either basketball, football, whatever the season is. The basketball games were great. I remember the smell of popcorn in the air. Music playing in the background. It was just so festive. Everybody was happy at these athletic events. It was just parents and students and teachers and sisters and brothers, everybody sitting in the stands shouting and yelling. It was just a very community-bonding experience. It was great. Even at the football stadium in Carrboro. It was that same feeling of community. All rooting for, you know, everybody happy, everybody on the same accord. No worrying about getting shot or checking on metal detectors. And there was the smell of liquor in the air at those games. There were certain sections that you knew these men were rowdy and laughing and talking a little too much in between touchdowns. And there was the smoke hovering over the air from people smoking their cigarettes. But it was all in fun. You can tell everybody was enjoying in their own special way. Lincoln was a family. Lincoln was a family.