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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 >>

The rich experience of an all-black school

Peerman recalls that attending an all-black college allowed her to reclaim some of the feelings that Lincoln High gave her—a sense of togetherness and purpose. As the interview ends, she adds that she felt very proud of her father when he raised his fist in a black power gesture, a signal that he believed in their cause as well. Peerman adds this comment at the end of the interview not only because it is a powerful moment in her memory, but perhaps also because she saw her father, while she was in high school, and someone more interested in keeping the peace than acting for change.

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: What did it mean to you, going to an all-black school in college? JP: It just felt so good. I felt like I was returning to my roots. I felt like integration had been forced upon me and now that I was able to choose what school I could go to I was going to choose to return back to my community where I knew that academics would be stressed in a totally different kind of way. Learning would be received and taken in a very different kind of way. Black schools have such rich heritages. They have such bonds, such togetherness, such—the activities, the bands, the choruses, the football. I wanted to return to that whole feeling that Lincoln—it felt like I was trying to rekindle a Lincoln-type spirit, something that I had seen in Lincoln, anyway. So when I had a choice to go, I chose a black institution. It felt good. It was problematic that it was so far from home. There was some family illness during that time and I wasn’t able to be around like I’d like to. But I learned a lot, and I wouldn’t trade it for a thing. BG: Are there any other things that you’d like to talk about that I haven’t asked you, or some things that I have asked you that you want to revisit? JP: No, not that I recall right now. Other than Lincoln has a very rich heritage and I’m sure that, if this project is successful and reaches the people like it should, that it’s going to be very successful, very beneficial. I thank you very much. BG: That’s great [tape stops] You’re on. JP: The proudest I ever was of my Dad, at a high school assembly for Black History Week, those assemblies always started with the singing of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.” When he stood there and raised his fist along with all the rest of the black students, I just really got a chill. I was just very emotional because he showed that we were with us and he understood that we were going through. He looked just like the guys at the Olympics that first raised their fists when the National Anthem was being played. That was a very memorable moment for my dad sharing with the black community.