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Title: Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., May 31, 1989. Interview L-0040. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: McKissick, Floyd B., Sr., interviewee
Interview conducted by Kalk, Bruce
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2007
Size of electronic edition: 76 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2007.
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Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2007-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2007-10-04, Jennifer Joyner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., May 31, 1989. Interview L-0040. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0040)
Author: Bruce Kalk
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., May 31, 1989. Interview L-0040. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0040)
Author: Floyd B. McKissick Sr.
Description: 90.0 Mb
Description: 10 p.
Note: Interview conducted on May 31, 1989, by Bruce Kalk; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series L. University of North Carolina, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., May 31, 1989.
Interview L-0040. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
McKissick, Floyd B., Sr., interviewee


Interview Participants

    FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR., interviewee
    BRUCE KALK, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
BRUCE KALK:
This is Bruce Kalk interviewing Mr. Floyd McKissick, May 31, 1989. Mr. McKissick, to begin with why don't we delve into a little bit your family history and a little bit about upbringing if you will.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, just what do you want to know about my family history and upbringing. I was born in Asheville, North Carolina, March 9, 1922, on Ridge Street. Both of my parents were the sons and daughters, respectively, of ministers. So consequently I had a very good religious influence in my life and an excellent social life because in the black community the church and all of its programs, that was, in a segregated community, represented the society in which we lived at that time. I had good parents. My father was Ernest Boice McKissick. He was originally from Kellton, South Carolina, Union County. The McKissicks had been on the McKissick plantations down there from slavery all the way on, and the other McKissicks were president, I think, respectively, of the University of South Carolina at one time, the other part of the family. The mother and father met at a Methodist college, Livingston College, in Salisbury, North Carolina and married, and of course, I am the second child of four children that they had. My father, at that time, mother and father finished what was called Normal School. It would be equivalent to a little more than high school. Because at time high school didn't go very far, not the twelve grades that you've got now, of course. But both mother and father worked hard. Asheville, North Carolina is a tourist town, and my father did hotel work and also worked for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, which was a fledgling company. He was an agent for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company. Mother could sew. We had a sign on the house, Seamstress. She could sew very well and make all kinds of clothes. Made my clothes of which I was real proud of, one of my first suits. She could sew and she worked at a department store, [unclear] , a department store in Asheville at one time. And then she went back to school and took a business course and then went to work for North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and she began a cashier-clerk. She worked there until she retired at North Carolina Mutual. My father, on the other hand, worked at North Carolina Mutual and the hotels, and then he later went into the government service that's there. I think at the time that he died he was with the Veteran's Administration, I think at [unclear] Hospital in Asheville. I don't know how much to tell you about the backgrounds, but I had good parents. There's no way that I can blame anything, that any of the children could ever say anything about their parents didn't try to do for them. Our parents did. Can't blame them for anything. They helped us go to school. They pushed us through school. We were taught to sacrifice to support the family, to go to church, to do what was right, and what was wrong, we were punished if we didn't do it. We were raised, I would think that some of my very years were my childhood, were my family life as a child in Asheville, some of my very, very happy years. So I can't complain about that part of my life. I think the struggle parts of my life were the fact that I was black, which oft time interfered with so much of the happiness that I might be enjoying when there's some abrupt change would come about to tell you that you were black and not wanted. I think most of my fights as a child came about issues growing out of that.
BRUCE KALK:
What year were you born, Mr. McKissick?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
March 9, 1922.
BRUCE KALK:
And you said you had three brothers and sisters?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
I have three sisters.

Page 2
BRUCE KALK:
I wanted to ask you a little bit, if I could, about any formative experiences you had growing up in Asheville that particularly linger, any recollections that particularly linger in your mind.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Oh yeah, there are many experiences I had. I had elementary school teachers who taught me all of the basics and I remember all of them basically now by name. I can remember all my school teachers who taught me. I think that teachers were more committed in that day. I think some of the bitter experiences that I had were, that I remember quicker than any other experiences was the fact that I was skating. We had a street on which we skated in Asheville, a very smooth street, South French Broad, at which time I was assigned by my scout master to direct traffic and help the smaller kids. And we were told to get out in an intersection, and the scout master had just placed us in the intersection to keep the smaller kids from coming through the intersection. Some cops came up and said get off the street. We didn't have no business being there. And in trying to explain to them, they proceeded to beat and slap me around a little bit, and I retaliated by throwing a skate.
BRUCE KALK:
Were there any other formative experiences before you left Asheville that stick in your mind?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, yes, I was a associated with the NAACP, and we had made a request for Paul Roberson to speak at the civic center and we had to go before the City Council to ask for his permission to speak at the civic center in Asheville in the city auditorium. That was denied. There were many problems of segregation in the city which we were regularly fighting every day, as it related to blacks in a southern city where segregation was prevalent. These incidents arose quite frequently. As a child, we had many incidents of my riding on the front of the bus to watch the driver, and then my aunt telling me that I couldn't sit up there. And while she was explaining to me, some big heavy man, weighing about 300 pounds, told her if she couldn't get me up, he was going to pick me up and throw me to the rear of the bus. I then got up and went back to the back of the trolley car. I said bus. It was really a trolley car. Asheville had trolley cars. This was on Montclair trolley car that I remember this. And my aunt picked me up and took me to the back and she just cried as she sat there with me. I sort of got the understanding of what things were all about a little later in life, not then. I can remember other incidents of that type also.
BRUCE KALK:
When did you leave Asheville? Was that to go to college?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Yes, I went to college at Morehouse College at Atlanta, Georgia. I went down there in 1939, my first year. And then from there, I think I went to Connecticut for a summer, on a tobacco farm. Worked up there. Then I worked around, during the period of time up until the time I got in the army in '45, I was in and out of school depending upon the amount of money that it took to go school. At that time it didn't take but $325 a year to go to school, but that was a lot of money when it came to working and making it then.
BRUCE KALK:
I'd like to, if we could, switch our attention to the background of the desegregation case at UNC. Would you be able to tell me a little bit about the earlier efforts to desegregate UNC prior to your own involvement?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
I recall my early involvement in the desegregation at North Carolina. We wrote and asked for applications right after I came out of the army in '45 requesting admission. We never received a reply to our first letter

Page 3
to the University of North Carolina. I was living in Asheville then. A short time before that there was the Hocutt case which had been brought to go to the University of North Carolina. Raymond Hocutt, I think, was his name, who had tried to go to North Carolina, and I think that that case was tied in state court and was lost. And he was not permitted to get into the case. My association, after we got out of the army, we were determined that there was not going to be any more segregation in North Carolina. And I think most of fellows who had been in World War II had been around the world and they had seen things, and they knew that they were not what America had depicted them to be. They had seen the whole world, and they were not going to live in a pattern of segregation as they had in the past. When we came to North Carolina, I went to Morehouse and did another year. And I had three years of college under my beat, and I had made the Dean's List at Morehouse. The Dean's List was what we called the honor roll. I came up to North Carolina Central. At that time it was called North Carolina College for Negroes, or they had just changed it to North Carolina College at Durham. I was admitted to law school, and we immediately decided upon getting the law school accredited. It was unaccredited. Didn't have enough books. Didn't have enough space. Didn't have enough facilities. It was called the law department. We then went to the legislature. Efforts to talk to people didn't prove to any avail, so we decided to picket the legislature. At that time the newspaper didn't pick up too much of what black people wanted to negotiate no way. You had to take some action. The only time that they would listen to you was some action. We decided to picket the legislature. So a group of us picketed the legislature, and as a result of picketing the legislature, they decided to expend more money to bring the law school up to accredited levels. We also decided that we needed to bring, with the cooperation of NAACP, bring suit to enter the University of North Carolina.
BRUCE KALK:
What was the date on your picketing the legislature in the effort to get North Carolina Central accredited?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Don't recall, I think I can find that written down someplace for you. I don't recall. Possibly a year before we filed the suit, because talk was going on that maybe they would let somebody in over there. And some quiet talk never proved to be of any benefit. But we did picket and we've got some pictures and everything of it for you. At any rate, when we brought the suit, before we brought the suit, I was not the first plaintiff. I think I was about the third in line. There was Harold Epps and Glass and there was another person who was in the law suit and ended up. . . . Epps graduated and someone else stepped down from the suit and I became the major plaintiff in the suit after that time. Then after a became the major plaintiff, at the time the case was being called for trial, there were interveners, and the interveners were Jay Kenneth Lee, Harvey Beech, Eugene Lassiter, and possibly four or more others who joined just before the suit started trial in Durham.
BRUCE KALK:
Let me interrupt you if I may. What year was McKissick vs. Carmichael initiated, do you recall?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
No, I'll have to get the records again on that. I get these dates a little confused now. Used to be that I could remember them all the time. I think that there was a book put out by the student government of North Carolina that has all those dates and figures in it. That would be your best bet on that, the students government of North Carolina, written by Albert Coates. That has it pretty well.

Page 4
BRUCE KALK:
What events in particular prompted you to initiate the suit?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
We had attempted to, after we got out of the army, I knew that I was going into law. And during the time that I was in Atlanta we had written the University of North Carolina and gotten no reply to asking them. It was generally felt and there was a feeling in the air that people were going to be fair and treat you right. You were a returning veteran. And some schools were letting blacks in that never had before. There were high quotas, and veterans were getting quotas. So there was a feeling in North Carolina, North Carolina would do some of these things without being forced to do it. That feeling was later determined to be a false feeling, false emotions, that we had. And after I came to the law school here and I saw.
The best thing that North Carolina Central had was some good professors, solid professors, who were teaching, and they were really giving you everything that they had. But we didn't have the books, and they used to always say, "We do not have these books. We do not have this and that. And you will have to do this." And there was no place for us to go get these things, no place to go, no place to borrow books. We didn't have the Reporters that we needed.
BRUCE KALK:
If I may, how would you compare on the one hand why you selected the University of North Carolina in particular to try to desegregate, and the second part of the question, how the University of North Carolina fit into the sort of overall strategy about desegregation, and what the attitudes of the administration seemed to be.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well first of all, I had made applications to go to law school to about seven law schools and had been admitted to Cleveland, Western Reserve. I think at that time Fordham Law School, I had been admitted. But each one had given you a time to come, and you would have been out of school a half a year because the list was so long. Howard University had a long list. All the black kids in the country were just about going to Howard, and to get on that list you'd have to wait three years before you could get in school. So it was decided, here's North Carolina right here. We knew that North Carolina Central, the law school there was not comparable to the University of North Carolina. We had been over there and had seen the University of North Carolina and saw the difference. They didn't know what we were doing over there or anything, but we went over to see the difference and we made these comparisons. At that time the NAACP had done some studies, and we were ready for this suit. It was just decided that suits were being brought all over, in many states in the South, at this time to desegregate the law schools, the professional schools. And we decided that we were going to go ahead and crack the law school and crack it now. It was just, you had top students. We could have got in school anywhere. It was just a matter that we were black, and the University, one of the worst things they were doing was not replying to correspondence or just ignoring it or throwing it away, which had occurred for two years in a row. So it was then decided that a suit was the possible way.
BRUCE KALK:
Within the strategy of using law suits to desegregate the University, do you remember participating in any discussions about tactics in order to pressure the University to accept black students?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
We decided that a law school was going to be the best way. There had been some people that knew, there were some blacks in the community who knew some whites over there, and there had been meetings among those

Page 5
groups of blacks and whites who met together, I think the Southern Conference for Human Welfare at that time, headed by Clark Forman out of New Orleans. There were other black and white groups who met. Congress of Racial Equality, the NAACP, black and white church groups, particularly Charles Jones of Chapel Hill was one of my strong supporters. Had certainly supported me and at a time when I really needed the support, was there with me at the University of North Carolina.
BRUCE KALK:
Was he a white man?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Yes, he was a Presbyterian minister, Charles Jones. Yes, he was. I think he's still alive today. And there was another lady, I was trying to think of her name, at the YMCA there that supported those black kids that were going after we came on the campus. It was not a friendly arrival when we got on the campus by any means.
BRUCE KALK:
I want to take that up in a moment or two, but I want to finish one matter about the law suit in particular. Did you initiate it in state or federal courts?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
It was initiated in federal courts.
BRUCE KALK:
And what was the progress of the case through the federal courts.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Progress was slow. Just as courts do today, progress was moving along. I think that it was during my first year of school, getting some of the years straight, my first year of school was 1949-50 school year at North Carolina Central. And the next year was 50-51, and so consequently, it takes three years to go to law school, and the decision came about the same week that I graduated and received my degree from North Carolina Central. You see, I had graduated from North Carolina Central Law School.
BRUCE KALK:
But you attended the University of North Carolina thereafter, is that correct?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Correct, correct, I was the plaintiff and Thurgood Marshall was our attorney, who told me at that time to go to the University of North Carolina because my grades, they were questioning the grades of students and they were making many questions, and he said, "I don't believe that you'll have any difficulty over there at all. I believe your grades are straight and I believe that you can make the course," because there were rumors that if anybody came over there, they weren't going to pass noway. They were going to fail them. And he said, "I believe that you can understand it, and you can take the pressure and the stress." That was the reason that I went over, although I had completed by legal requirements at that time. I still went to the University for that summer.
BRUCE KALK:
And then you just attended the University of North Carolina for that one summer, is that correct?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
That's right, just for that summer.
BRUCE KALK:
What was your experience as the first black students, along with the other black students, at the University of North Carolina?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, some of the students did not live on the campus. I was one of the ones that lived on campus in a cubicle up there at Steele Hall, I think. I was also a working student and I waited tables at a place called the Barlett House. And working at the Barlett House out there I would work in the evenings. My

Page 6
job would start at about five o'clock and it would be over with around about one or two o'clock at night, and then I'd come in and go to bed and get up. So consequently, sometimes I was the only black student on the campus. I was the only black there many a day. And at first, there was an honor system in existence then. No doors were locked, and I didn't lock my doors. I stayed in a cubicle where the other black students were supposed to stay and did stay sometimes during the day time. Many of them didn't want at night. So I was along there. And they would come in and they'd put a black snake in my drawer, a dead black snake, in my drawer on my shirts. They would put water on your clothes. Put a bucket of water over your door to trick you. When you come in, you opened the door, a bucket of water would fail. Because see, no doors were locked. They would be half-way or partially open. They had a lot of fun with you. They thought they were having fun. You'd get a letter every day from the Klu Klux Klan telling you that you're at the wrong place and what's going to happen to you. You had a lot of threats. I, however, didn't let the threats bother me too much. And when I came in, I'd study. And classes started, I think, at 7:30 or 8:00, I would be in my class, and I'd be ready to go. And then that summer, I think that things were segregated around the campus. I had to establish my right to eat in Steele Hall dining room. That was Lenoir Hall, I think, dining room. After two or three kids knocked the trays out of my hand, I went through the line one day and made the big announcement that I intend to eat today, and I don't intend to let anybody knock any tray out of my hand anymore. I can't afford it in the first place. And I walked through that line and didn't nobody say nothing. And I stopped all that. I let them know.
BRUCE KALK:
Let me ask you sir, do you recall any other segregated facilities after the technical desegregation of the University? For example, was sitting at the library segregated or anything of that sort?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Never had any trouble sitting at the library. There were some incidents of some of the kids went to the swimming pool to swim and they wouldn't let them in, and I told them this pool was going to get integrated today, and I just went on and jumped into the pool. After I jumped into the pool, I walked on out and nobody said anything to me and I said nothing to anybody else. I said, "It's integrated now." And that was it. No one ever said anything to me about it or anything. I got soaking wet but it was so hot that day that I got dry. But that was about all that occurred.
BRUCE KALK:
Do you recall any of the students, faculty, or administration who were supportive besides the people that you mentioned, or people who gave you continued support once you arrived there?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
The lady is Anne Queen who was at the Y, who certainly gave us support the whole time. There were a number of students. Don't forget the pressure was on many of the white students that would try to treat us nice, were called "nigger lovers." But there were always a group of whites there who wanted us there, and who tried to help us out in many ways. But they were under a great amount of pressure, and some evenings they would come by and talk to me. When I got there late at night, quite often there would be somebody to talk to me, so long as no one was around to harass them, call them a "nigger lover" for their associating with me. That was one of the major problems that was going on any time someone would try to befriend you or threat you nice and pick up a book for you. There would always be a little choir around to

Page 7
holler, "Nigger lover, nigger lover, nigger lover," and that stopped many of the whites from trying to do anything.
BRUCE KALK:
The University of North Carolina has had a reputation as being the center of southern liberalism and yet the story that you've described very much contradicts some of that reputation. To what extent do you think the University lived up to that appellation as the bastion of southern liberalism?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, I think you had a man like Frank Porter Graham who expressed himself nationally and there were members on the faculty who had expressed themselves that we knew about. There were always people at the University of North Carolina who disagreed with the policies of segregation even when I went there, before we had arrived. There were people who talked with us, who gave us advice on what to do and how to do it and who was friendly. But the basic, it's a political school and it was a political process that tied up so many of the minds of those who were there. I would like to think that it was primarily political rather than that went to the academic community, I think the academic community, well, I'd say at least fifty percent of the academic community didn't care one way or the other. But I would think that it was basically a political and because it's involved in the politics of North Carolina, it was not going to prove any faster than any other process in the state.
BRUCE KALK:
Can you recall any other outstanding recollections about your experiences that summer at the University of North Carolina?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
I don't know that I can recall any. I do recall that just before we were getting ready to take exams in the course that I was taking, and it was taught by Professor Voight, who was said to be a German who taught us sales. About a week before, I had been in sales class and had been called upon to speak, answer questions, and I'd always answer pretty correctly. I kept up with my homework even though I was working. And just before we got ready to take the examination, about a week before, one night I came up to my room and a couple of fellows were in the room, and we started talking about sales, and then a couple of more came in. And about the middle of the summer I think the attitudes had changed. There used to be a choir who used to holler "nigger lover." During the summer I think that it was prevalent on a regular basis, but by the end of the summer it had faded down. And then the kids in my class, who came in the room to study with me, said, "You know, we want to study with you because we think that we can each other." They had reached that point. And I became to feel much better. I knew then that I certainly had lost a lot of the inferiority complex that I had previously had.
BRUCE KALK:
How would you say you were able to smooth the way for other black students to attend the University?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
I think that when those who were first, I was not the only one. Sure, I was the first one in a sense, but there were others doing this summer session. This was the only session where there were blacks. With me at that time I think was Lassiter, taking that class. There was another class in which another black was in. I think that one, the mess hall, not the mess hall, it was Lenoir Hall, had received its first black and then it was over with. I think they have to go through the first black syndrome. It's a syndrome for white people. Have you ever seen a black eat. They think all kinds of things. I think all these stereotypes are thrown out of the window after they undergo their experience with the first black, being associated with them. So I think that those of us

Page 8
who went there first, cleared up the minds of whites more than those of blacks. There were few blacks coming after that, I mean relatively few were coming in, but the door had been made easier for them to come because they would no longer create the [unclear] .
Sometimes, you found it difficult to study. It did take people who were really ready to fight who went there first, because they had to make the course and couldn't let things detract from them. And there was enough distraction on the basis of race and what people would say and some of the authorities didn't try to help you out. And maybe one professor would be nice and speak, but many of them wouldn't speak for failure to get peer approval.
BRUCE KALK:
Do you recall as outstanding influences on you at the University of North Carolina, perhaps a faculty member who had an influence on you?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Having been there only one summer, I think I made a lot of friends around there, faculty members. I think one of the friends that I made was Dan Pollock at the University of North Carolina Law School. His family and my family are tight friends today, Dan Pollock. We were both newly married. We both raised our children. Our children grew up basically together. We were in every organization for the protection or promotion of rights, civil rights, in particular first amendment rights, freedom of speech. Dan and I are the best of friends even right now. We share Christmas parties, weddings, and anniversaries. That's one of the best friends I ever had, I met at the University of North Carolina, was Dan Pollock.
BRUCE KALK:
When did full scale, perhaps that's the wrong word, when would you say that the beginning of full term black students coming to UNC took place?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
It was after I left. I think the number of students in the 60s that came in increased dramatically, and they only brought in a number of students after they hired blacks to develop a program to bring in more students, into the University of North Carolina. And I think when federal funds became available on a non-discriminatory basic, the University decided that they wanted federal funds, and they decided to recruit more blacks also.
BRUCE KALK:
What are your recollections now, looking backward, on the process of desegregation at the University of North Carolina? Certainly, there have been those who have made the claim that it was a great deal longer in coming than the success in McKissick vs. Carmichael.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, I think that the University has made progress in many ways. I think it still needs to concentrate on establishing a policy of full integration. It has not established a policy of full integration. I think it's been applying the oil where the squeak was in the wheel. If you don't really holler, nothing is corrected. There has to be pressure brought about before corrections are made. I wish that all of the universities, not only UNC, but Duke as well would decide to get more faculty persons and administration and at all levels of the development and growth of the university. It would be far more meaningful to blacks than just having black students. And I think they need to go out and recruit and bring in far more black students than they do.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
BRUCE KALK:
It's been said that the black community in North Carolina was, in many regards, more accommodating the white power structure, if you will, or to use

Page 9
another term, white institutions that were relatively more civil or progressive, given the atmosphere in other parts of south. Do you think that there's truth to that or do you think that your experience in desegregating the University, in particular, illustrates another aspect of the black community's resistance?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, I think North Carolina has always been able to hide, to a great extent, or put forth is what I should say rather than hide, I think they've put forth a public relations image that they are far more progressive than other southern states. But I think that if you look at the record now, you've got far more black elected officials in Alabama and Mississippi and far more legislations to carry out federal programs in Mississippi and Alabama than you have in North Carolina to date. In particular, when it comes to economic development toward blacks, Mississippi has passed some special legislation. And Alabama, even under Governor Wallace, had changed its course and actions towards blacks, and it opened up doors for employment, and both of the states would now compare and exceed the numbers in schools and educational institutions than North Carolina even today.
BRUCE KALK:
Have you had any continuing connections or relationships with the University of North Carolina, particularly with the black community at the University of North Carolina?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
The Black Student Union has talked to me about every year, and I'm over there at least once a week, and I meet with them and they talk once and a while about the problems at the University of North Carolina. And I belong to the Alumni Association and I keep up with them that way. Other than that there is no effort to tie me to the University of North Carolina. I thought one time I ought to place an application over there to teach now that I'm about ready to retire. See if they would offer me a job. See if they're ready to say that, you know, the time is come and we're going to do it.
BRUCE KALK:
Would you be able to connect your early experiences in McKissick vs. Carmichael with your later career as a civil rights activist in the 1960s?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Well, I think I've always been an activist in the civil rights movement. That started from the incident where I was beaten by the cops, I was telling you about, in Asheville, North Carolina. I have been active in demonstrations. I believe in civil disobedience and I believe that if you believe the law is wrong, then you disobey that law and you pay the consequences for it. And I believe that you have to resort to demonstrations where you have the lack of response to requests or lack of communications. There has to be a method of opening the doors. So there's no other method except an outward confrontation, and that confrontation has to be had and has to be had in public in order to bring about change. I still believe that. I still believe that there's a need for direct action in many areas today.
BRUCE KALK:
The experience of desegregating the University of North Carolina did not take place at the same time as the experience of desegregating the city of Chapel Hill. Did you play any role in that process at all?
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
Yes, it was the Congress of Racial Equality, I think James Farmer, who was the national director of CORE at that time and I was the chairman of the board of CORE, which was called the National Action Committee. We both participated in the demonstrations in Chapel Hill. We had a strong chapter of CORE in Chapel Hill in the city and a strong chapter in Durham. We both made a demand upon the city of Chapel

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Hill that they should desegregate by a certain date, which they didn't do and if they didn't do, we were going to have massive demonstrations and that we did. And eventually it came about.
BRUCE KALK:
I want to end our interview by asking you if you any other recollections or comments about the experience that you had in Chapel Hill or in connection with the University or any parting comments that you have about your feelings now about the University of North Carolina.
FLOYD B. McKISSICK SR.:
I think that I'm associated with the University of North Carolina through the regional planning school. My son went to school over there. My daughter went to undergraduate school at Carolina, and my son went to the School of Planning and got his Master's degree. And I've met a number of the professors over there who were closely associated with me in the development of Soul City. And one or two of the law professors over there that are friends. I see the University as a great thing. I think it's able to do far more than it does though. I has a great amount of power. It doesn't seem to use its power to bring about the changes that can be made, or to tie the town and gown together. On the other hand, there are individuals, and there have always been a number of individuals professors who have always championed the cause of blacks or minorities or the under privileged. And the University still has that spark in it which I love to support whenever I see that those sparks coming in from the students or from the professors over there. Every liberal movement, I think, in the state of North Carolina has been associated—there have been professors from the University of North Carolina associated with it. I'm talking about white professors who have been associated with it. The University could do a lot more than what it's doing though.
BRUCE KALK:
Thank you.
END OF INTERVIEW