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Title: Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Cusick, Pat, interviewee
Interview conducted by Dean, Pamela
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 256 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-01-04, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0043)
Author: Pamela Dean
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series L. University of North Carolina. Southern Oral History Program Collection (L-0043)
Author: Pat Cusick
Description: 283 Mb
Description: 86 p.
Note: Interview conducted on June 19, 1989, by Pamela Dean; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Jovita Flynn.
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 Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989.
Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Cusick, Pat, interviewee


Interview Participants

    PAT CUSICK, interviewee
    PAMELA DEAN, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
PAMELA DEAN:
This is Pamela Dean. It's the nineteenth of June, 1989. I'm going to be talking to Pat Cusick, a leader in the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill in 1963-64 and now director of the SCAP agency in Boston, Massachusetts.
PAT CUSICK:
Let me deal with my father; that's the easiest. My father came down to work in the steel mills of Gaston, Alabama. His parents had come over from Ireland; that's about all I know—Irish-Catholic. My mother's family has all the convoluted roots of any Southern historical novel. The Hollingworth branch of it came over with William Penn and were Quakers. By the time they worked their way down to Alabama they were Methodists. Another branch—my great-grandmother was a Lewis, so my third-great uncle was Meriwether Lewis, who did the Lewis and Clark. One of them married Betty Washington, George Washington's sister. So I was supposed to be very proud of all of that type of thing. In my mother's family, my great-grandfather was the leading slave owner in Northern Alabama. He was a major in the Confederate army, and formed the first unit of the Klan in Alabama after the war. There were two leading families in that county. Now that was the tradition that I had been raised in. Until recently, until my mother went into a nursing home, his picture hung on the mantle with the stars-and-bars draped behind it and the gun underneath. The sword had been lost by the United Daughters of the Confederacy during some festival. That was the tradition I had been raised in, learning the poems of the confederacy and all of this. My grandparents

Page 2
got divorced in their seventies. When I'd ask about my grandfather and his family, I was always told, "Well, they're strange. They live up on the mountain. And as proof of their strangeness, they were Republicans in the New Deal South." Of course, that ended all discussion. Obviously that was proof of insanity. Only until I saw a history of the county, did I find that they were very different politically. They were Southern abolitionists. They were the Underwood family. They were the other leading family in the county. The book said that when my grandparents got married it was a real event because they came from such opposite families. They supported the Union. They were Southern abolitionists. They were lawyers and judges, and so it was only natural that when they Union troop came, my great-grandfather on that side became a federal judge during Reconstruction. Even though I don't think we are our ancestors—thank God—I was delighted to find that this other branch had a much different tradition, and, in fact, one of the people was the attorney for the Cherokee nation before the Supreme Court on the forced march, the Trail of Tears. So I felt very good. A few years ago my cousin, a retired marine general, was telling me, "You are the only one of your grandfather's descendants that is like him. All the rest put great store in making money, but you are as idealistic and as crazy as he was. Did you know he was a socialist and a close associate of Eugene B. Debbs in Alabama in 1910?" So I came from very Southern but very different traditions in terms of the two branches of the family. But I didn't even know about any of that until recently, because there

Page 3
had been this divorce, and they had been totally separate. I was glad, even though we are not our ancestors. I listened to and met Malcolm when he was in Durham, and every time I heard Malcolm say, "The sons of slave owners, the grandsons of slave owners!" In my case that was true. But I was raised in the segregationist tradition. I guess the first change came when I went to high school. My mother, who had become a convert to Catholicism in 1927, sent me to a boarding school in Alabama connected with the Benedictine monastery in Coleman, Alabama—St. Bernard. I went there, and some of the priests were constantly positing the statement that segregation was morally wrong. I used to argue against it. But there was a lot of discussion. Of course, there weren't any blacks in the monastery or the high school. By the time I finished high school, I think I was pretty convinced, at least intellectually, that segregation was screwed up.
PAMELA DEAN:
So this was a really important influence on you?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes it was. The next important influence was on a more practical level—the Korean war. I went in the Air Force, and that physically removed me from the South. I not only associated with black people, my supervisor was a black person. I had been around black people all my life within that paternalistic way. Not only was he my supervisor, but he was brighter than I was. I was in air traffic control, and he was the air traffic control supervisor at Berlin. I think that helped almost complete the piece. I went back to Rome, Georgia, where we were living then. I used to wonder what I would do if one of my friends from the

Page 4
service came to town and had to ride on the back of the bus. I kept avoiding that question.
PAMELA DEAN:
You compartmentalized.
PAT CUSICK:
It took me about ten years. I was a very retiring person. I never would argue with people very much. That seems hard to believe now; I'm notorious around here. It took me almost ten years to come out of that closet, so to speak, of what I could or should do.
PAMELA DEAN:
In your home town with your family around?
PAT CUSICK:
In Chapel Hill, the whole thing in '63 was almost like a revolution. The whole movement was like wildfire. I went through a number of changes. When we first started off, we were pretty naive, I think. We just talked to everybody in Chapel Hill. I was fortunate to be there. I often wonder, what if I'd been in Boston? I would like to think that I still would have done certain things, but circumstances have a lot to do with it. I would like to think I would have been of staunch character and would have done this, that, and the other thing. But I don't know.
PAMELA DEAN:
What made you decide to go to Chapel Hill? You had gone to a [unclear] years part-time.
PAT CUSICK:
I was at Belmont Abbey College in [unclear] , which is a small Benedictine school, and very good. I was working almost full-time, going to college and getting a degree in chemistry. I decided I wanted the credentials from a big university. I had never been to any school other than a Catholic school in my entire life, and small schools at that. I visited the campus. I

Page 5
assume that Chapel Hill is still somewhat charming, because it certainly was. It looked like a university was supposed to look and most of them don't.
PAMELA DEAN:
That got me, too.
PAT CUSICK:
I went up in the summer and said, "Ahh!" I rushed and transferred to Chapel Hill. I lost most of my credits in the process. I also found that I had been the beneficiary of a really excellent education at a small school where you talk to your teachers and all that. I was really appalled at the first big lecture I went into. I had to work because my step-father was an alcoholic, and the help was needed at home. I worked at the Student Union, called Graham Memorial, in the old building with the columns. I ended up being the custodian there, in those days a student who had a small room there. I also worked there which was very good because they paid for my room. It was really great during the holidays because I had this whole place to myself with this fantastic sound system and so forth. I was there for a good bit. Then my step-father got cancer, so I had to drop out of school. I had switched to math in the meantime. I really had to send some money home. I got a job working full-time. First I got a job for two weeks working at the computation center. I learned to do the key punch, so I got a job full-time doing the key punch. I was a math major so I was programming on the side. I was the first person they hired who did not have a degree as a programmer. I was taking one course a semester and working more than full-time. Then I got a promotion to computer analyst. So I was full-time at the University and stayed there

Page 6
until sometime in '63. I resigned because we were starting to attack the University, and we had attacked the University enough. I went full-time with the civil rights group.
PAMELA DEAN:
Let's stay for a little while with your student experience, your student life.
PAT CUSICK:
I was on the GI bill so I was older than the run-of-the-mill student.
PAMELA DEAN:
How was that? Now older returning students are much more common. In that time I'm assuming there wouldn't have been so many.
PAT CUSICK:
There were some from the Korean War but not that many at all. All of the older students that I knew were veterans like myself from the Korean War. You just did not see older students.
PAMELA DEAN:
Did you get involved in University life, in extracurricular….
PAT CUSICK:
Not really, because I was working full-time, going to school full-time. I was working about forty hours a week. I developed a distaste for the fraternity-sorority system. For one of my jobs at Graham Memorial we rented out little portable pianos for the fraternity bashes, especially during the fall. Myself and another person, we had to move the pianos in and out of the fraternity houses. We were called names and stuff like that. I developed sort of an antagonistic mind-set toward the beautiful fraternity houses.
PAMELA DEAN:
Can you recall the names?
PAT CUSICK:
I don't remember exactly, but they were derogatory names. We were the hired help moving in the stuff.

Page 7
PAMELA DEAN:
You clearly were not the sort they were going to recruit?
PAT CUSICK:
So I pretty much was uninvolved. I worked and had my own little circle. I formed a—God, the naivete of this—I had seen a leaflet of a group called the Student Peace Union. You needed five students to form a chapter. There were no chapters in the South. I formed a chapter. That was the start, because that was very controversial. We were the only thing left, if you want to put it in left-right terms, of the young Democrats. We were raising the issue of the Vietnam War… Jack Kennedy was president. We would have weekly sessions saying, "This is wrong, and it's going to get us into a major war." We were looked upon as extremely radical and caught a lot of abuse. Eventually the Daily Tar Heel did support us.
PAMELA DEAN:
Chapel Hill has always had this reputation. North Carolina is supposed to be the most liberal state in the South, and Chapel Hill is the hot-bed of liberalism in North Carolina. You are suggesting that you were not encountering anything that you or I would describe as liberalism?
PAT CUSICK:
No.
PAMELA DEAN:
Not among the students?
PAT CUSICK:
Definitely not.
PAMELA DEAN:
Except for a small handful that you personally had become acquainted with?
PAT CUSICK:
There had been the tradition so that we were able to debate. In order to get chartered as a student organization, and thereby be able to use the facilities around campus and actually

Page 8
even hold programs, you had to have a faculty advisor. So someone told me to go see Joe Straley. He and I have laughed about this since then. Joe was really hesitant. He said, "You're not going to be a radical group, doing things like picketing and things are you?" And we said, "No, this is just a discussion group." Joe had evidently caught a lot of hell previously at some point. He just did not want to go through a lot of stuff, but he felt he would be our faculty advisor. "Oh no, we're not going to do anything like that; no picketing or stuff." I did not foresee the events as they were to unfold. So Joe became our faculty advisor.
PAMELA DEAN:
He's in the chemistry department, isn't he? physics?
PAT CUSICK:
Physics.
PAMELA DEAN:
Had you taken any classes with anybody that made you aware that there were other people in the University?
PAT CUSICK:
No. I had taken a class with a physics professor who turned out to be very supportive, but I wouldn't have known it from his class. I didn't know him except for that. That was Wayne Bowers. They lived on Franklin Street, Wayne and Maryellen Bowers. They were very supportive of the Student Peace Union. Maryellen was, and I'm sure still is, a member, along with Lucy Straley, of the Durham-Chapel Hill branch of the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom (W.I.L.P.F.). They were very supportive of this very small peace group of ours and the Straleys. We then started talking about how we could be doing all this stuff about international peace when so much was happening right in the South. I went to Ocracoke Island off the

Page 9
coast and spent a week by myself in a tent, and that had a great effect on me. I went ahead with this peace group. It was a major step for me. Looking back, I wonder if that wasn't an easier step, obviously, than jumping right into the civil rights movement. I don't think I realized that. But then we did get involved in civil rights. There went the band wagon.
PAMELA DEAN:
You started out with a small group of people. Who were they?
PAT CUSICK:
Mike Putzel, who is now with the White House press corps. He was one of the initial five. He did not get all that involved with the civil rights part of it, because by that point he was writing for the Daily Tar Heel, and all the Tar Heel kids became stringers for the U.P.I., A.P., and that type of thing. We wanted them to, because they were sympathetic. Wayne King was in that category. Wayne was the Washington bureau chief for the Times. I think he is back in New York now. We talked on the phone once last year.
PAMELA DEAN:
That's four. You said you had to have five. Who's the other?
PAT CUSICK:
John Creel. I don't know what happened to him, and Lou Calhoun. I'm still in touch with Lou. He, like myself, was a white Southerner. John Donne is dead, I guess you know now. He died in '82. Joe Straley came up for his memorial service. We rode up to Vermont together where he lived. [interruption]
It has shaped everything that has come after for me. That is why these charts are on the wall and stuff. It is very close

Page 10
to me in a lot of ways. I'm still schizoid about the state of North Carolina, and the University. I love it and I hate it. Of course, I think North Carolina is a schizoid state. It has very progressive elements and very right-wing elements, in a way that makes things exciting, because at least things are in flux.
PAMELA DEAN:
You started out with a small group just interested in talking about issues?
PAT CUSICK:
Raising the issue of the Vietnam War.
PAMELA DEAN:
You started this in the fall of '62, fall semester?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, '62. Jack Kennedy was president. Of course, liberals were very upset because here was a liberal president, and who was this group out here, rather than trusting him, saying that this was going to turn into a horrible scene for the country.
PAMELA DEAN:
You were getting no support. Were you getting any active opposition, or weren't you big enough and visible enough?
PAT CUSICK:
We were getting opposition from the Y.A.F. There was a campus chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, who were the young right-wingers. We would be debated by them and called all kinds of names, communists and this, that, and the other thing. We had some pretty good debaters, and we were pretty sharp. There was some kind of debating society, the Di-Phi Senate or something. We had a big debate in there, I remember. We always did very well. We did a lot of homework. We were controversial but weren't physically attacked or anything.
PAMELA DEAN:
Any response from the administration?
PAT CUSICK:
No.

Page 11
PAMELA DEAN:
They took no notice at all.
PAT CUSICK:
None that I know of.
PAMELA DEAN:
The Chancellor was Aycock then?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, and Bill Friday was president.
PAMELA DEAN:
Until just a couple of years ago. Forever. So you were stirring things up a little, but nothing like the teach-ins and sit-ins that happened a bit later.
PAT CUSICK:
No. Nothing like that. We certainly were opposed to that type of activity. But we stirred things up. The closest we came to anything active was on Armed Forces Day. There was always a big parade marching down Franklin Street of units. I went to the Women's International League of Peace and Freedom and proposed that we should march together with symbols. As an organization, the S.P.U. had the symbol that had been in the British disarmament. So we made big signs of the peace symbol. We marched right after the Armed Forces. That upset everyone. There were big pictures in the newspapers, Durham Morning [Herald] and Raleigh. Eventually the Daily Tar Heel ran an editorial praising us for the positions we were raising on campus. I gather that the Daily Tar Heel in later years became very conservative, but in that period of time it was very liberal.
PAMELA DEAN:
It has had a checkered past.
PAT CUSICK:
Wayne King, I believe, was the editor. He's now the one at the New York Times.
PAMELA DEAN:
It was January of '63 that you started the next phase of this which was the, wait a minute, I've got my dates wrong.

Page 12
PAT CUSICK:
Well, April was when we publicly started, but I think we had been discussing it for a while before that.
PAMELA DEAN:
It was January of '63 that Terry Sanford made his statements supporting integration and starting some local, community-based committees to try to bring people together and bring about integration in a peaceful and incremental way.
PAT CUSICK:
We had been discussing it that whole time. It must have been March that we decided that if we went and talked to the owners of the segregated businesses in Chapel Hill, that they probably would integrate. That is what I mean about being naive.
PAMELA DEAN:
So you were going to go from just debating issues on campus to going out into the community?
PAT CUSICK:
We formed a committee and started meeting with all these people. We met with no success. We were duly appalled. We had explained it logically and everything else, both idealistically and practically. Then we decided we would picket a place. That was a most unusual experience.
PAMELA DEAN:
Can you tell me some of the places you went and talked to?
PAT CUSICK:
I didn't talk myself. We pretty well covered most of the ones, I think. We picketed the College Cafe, which was in the main block of Franklin street, almost next to the Varsity Theater, across from the Carolina Coffee Shop. A lot of these discussions and a lot of my recruitment of members took place in the Carolina Coffee Shop and a place called Harry's, which is no longer there. We decided to picket the College Cafe. Max

Page 13
Yarborough was the owner. That was a big, big step. We had been opposed to picketing. I was very much opposed to picketing.
PAMELA DEAN:
Why?
PAT CUSICK:
That radical activity. When we started picketing, I wasn't that much in favor of marching. When we started marching, I was not in favor of civil disobedience. The events swept us along and so forth.
PAMELA DEAN:
Was John Donne not more radical than you were?
PAT CUSICK:
No, I think we were about the same.
PAMELA DEAN:
Was there anybody internally that was pushing you?
PAT CUSICK:
No, not really. I think the external events throughout the South, but more importantly what we went up against in Chapel Hill, which we almost had to run up against in order to believe it. We had been talking to the emergency association and stuff and people that we felt should know better. So we picketed the College Cafe with horrible results. They sold out of food the first day with people breaking the picket line. The owner came out and thanked us for having the pickets and asked us to continue. Other restaurant owners asked us if we would transfer to their restaurants. Here we were, idealistic and making a big step, and it is having the exact opposite effect. You talk about being discouraged. Certain fraternities made it a requirement of the pledges that they had to break the picket line. The NROTC made it a requirement. They had to break the picket line. So you had people coming in in droves, plus people from Carrboro and out in the country coming in and screaming. You talk about being discouraged. But we picketed.

Page 14
PAMELA DEAN:
There had been some civil rights activity in Chapel Hill before that?
PAT CUSICK:
Around the Carolina Theater. One of the people that was a leader of that was also involved with us, Harold Foster. He was the only one that had been involved.
PAMELA DEAN:
Other than Harold, earlier than that, had you been talking to anyone in the black community at all?
PAT CUSICK:
No.
PAMELA DEAN:
You were white men talking to white men.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. Very much the type of thing that I criticize these days. But we didn't stay in that little ivory tower long because, after this College Cafe experience, we discussed that and decided we would go to the black community. We had our first meeting at the St. Joseph A.M.E. Church, a mass meeting. We spent all night trying to think of a name, and how we came up with the stupid name we came up with—you'd have thought we had more sense—it was called the Committee for Open Business, the acronym being COB. It seems like we could have done better than that. But that was the purpose, open business. We formed the Committee for Open Business and had a whole steering committee. It was much larger than what we had been. It was based in the black committee. White liberals from the University started coming. By the time we had our first march in May down Franklin Street, it was about fifty-fifty black and white. It didn't stay that way long.
PAMELA DEAN:
Your picketing had clearly brought out the segregationists. But it also had the effect of bringing out the

Page 15
white liberals in the University community that hadn't been active at all before.
PAT CUSICK:
Not at the picketing. The next stage was when we formed the Committee for Open Business, and that brought out a number of professors and people centered around the Community Church, which was kind of a bastion of liberalism. The coming together was doomed to failure for a number of reasons. As a result of the march, or even before it, a couple of places were segregated. We published this list of businesses. They were afraid we were going to come by their place. So a couple—I know a bowling alley, I believe, and maybe some other places—desegregated. We had around 400 people in the march.

Page 16
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
PAT CUSICK:
We were denied a permit to march. We marched anyway, but the chief of police, Chief Black, very unusual person, he turned out to be a tough opponent. He was not a Bull Conner. In fact, because of the incident that happened in Chapel Hill in 1948 with the buses on the first Freedom Ride through the South, in which Bayard Ruskin was on the bus and others. He got very intrigued—these were all pacifists—and he got intrigued with what they said about nonviolence. That was the first violence that happened, was in Chapel Hill. He was a young cop. So he started reading Gandhi. So he knew as much about nonviolent tactics as we did. So he would not allow us to use his recalcitrance, like the whole scene in Birmingham and stuff. So once we said, "Well, we're marching anyway." He didn't arrest us. He then turned it into a parade for us, and that characterized his tactics throughout the movement. He and I exchanged Christmas cards for a number of years until he died a couple of years ago. Very interesting guy. So we had the big march in May, and then soon after we sat-in, the big act of civil disobedience, and I was in charge of that demonstration. We decided that the heart of the matter, and I think our thinking was correct on this, it wasn't so much the individual places which were segregated, but in terms of Chapel Hill that the Merchants' Association should have called upon its members to desegregate. We had met with them, and they weren't going to. So we sat-in at the Merchants' Association, and that was my first arrest. It was a very heavy step for me, the whole civil

Page 17
disobedience. And it's for that that I got my first prison sentence later on, thirty days.
PAMELA DEAN:
Tell me about that sit-in. Can you describe how it went.
PAT CUSICK:
Every single, I mean, it's forever etched, because it was quite a step for us to take. It was definitely a big step for me to take. By that time, no, it happened a little bit later that most of the white liberals were leaving, but this was mostly black teenagers and a couple of whites. We went in and we were very well organized. We had non-violent workshops. We decided to be very open. We had them in the yard outside the First Baptist Church in the black community. Police would come and watch us. I had been to some other ones because it was loose network throughout the South then of SNCC and others because of all the sit-ins. So I had been to some workshops in other places. So we taught ourselves and each other how to go limp and all the tactics. How to protect yourself and other people nonviolently and stuff. So the police would come and watch us. So anyway, we went in and we just sat down on the floor. It was very small and narrow, had a counter, very narrow floor. I think there must have been about thirty of us or something. We were singing.
PAMELA DEAN:
"We Shall Overcome" or what?
PAT CUSICK:
No, it's hard to explain the singing these days but it was an integral part of the whole… Did you see "Eyes on the Prize?" We were singing "No More Jim Crow." "No more Jim Crow over me, and before I'll be a slave, I'll be buried in my grave,

Page 18
and go home to my Lord and be free," which had been, like most of the songs, either derivations of spirituals or labor movement songs, and that was a spiritual. I remember that very vividly. We really went limp, and they stacked us—there's a picture in the Free Men, and we were stacked up almost like cordwood outside. And then that was the first experience with jail. That time we did stay, no, we were in the Chapel Hill jail and then we were transferred, because there were too many of us, to Hillsborough. Then there was negotiations. At that time that was a real shock. I think the negotiations, well, I don't want to get into internal stuff. But the town was very shocked at that point in time, and maybe if the people on the outside had been better negotiators, things would have gone a little bit better. But we stayed, I think, about a week over in Hillsborough.
PAMELA DEAN:
What was the jail there like?
PAT CUSICK:
The pits. All the jails were. Well, the Chapel Hill jail was clean. The Hillsborough jail was kind of the pits. It was very interesting—I don't know whether it was then or another time. I was there so much. I think it was then, but Harold Foster and I were cell mates. And sometimes when you were in there, you'd be in a two person cell with thirty people. But we ended up with two people. So he was the editor of the student newspaper at North Carolina Central and very well read. We'd both read Baldwin's Another Country. So we got into this week long discussion about that. He was very good for me because he was very militant. It was very good, those discussions and

Page 19
stuff. So that was the first sit-in. Then soon after that the movement split which I think was inevitable, because we'd have these meetings and you would have University professors who, as you know, professors love to talk and do things right. So they'd make motions and amendments to motions and get into real quibbling about the language and the qualifiers and all this, which was very important for someone who had a lot of education. To the kids from Lincoln High School, which was the black high school then, the black teenagers, they couldn't see that at all and then they were the ones who were actually going out and getting arrested. So what you had was the white liberals debating and the black kids actually going out and getting arrested. The music, the kids liked the singing. They had elaborate hand clapping patterns and stuff. The white professors usually could not keep time that well. It was different beat. [Laughter] They were not used to that type—there were a lot of cultural, as well as maybe even political, but mostly cultural. Then I think too, some of the professors had a long history of being staunch supporters of civil rights which was not easy in the South. But it was their movement. Then here are these kids who hadn't even been to college. Some of them hadn't even finished high school who were saying it was their movement. So there was a resentment. There was a resentment, not to get off on that topic because that whole type of thing is even present, I think, a lot today.
PAMELA DEAN:
Do you find that kind of thing here in Boston?

Page 20
PAT CUSICK:
Well, not here, not right here, but I see it in other aspects. I see it in debates and the Rainbow Coalition and different aspects. So I don't think they could have stayed in almost. The differences were so great. So they left.
PAMELA DEAN:
The white liberals?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, also we were getting too militant. But it wasn't just the militancy. I think that was why most people think that it split.
PAMELA DEAN:
So, what was it?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, the first sit-in strained everything. And I know people were members of the Society of Friends, Quakers and stuff, and they said, "You know, this is really a violation of what King's doing, a violation of nonviolence, because you know that violence is going to happen, and you're going too fast." The most eloquent answer to that, I don't know if you've ever read it, but King's "Letter from a Birmingham Jail" is the most eloquent, you know. So I think the little cultural things, even to the singing. The uncomfortableness that some of the professors felt with all this type of thing. That contributed to the resentment [unclear]
PAMELA DEAN:
I was thinking about [unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
Oh yes, so all of that was in there, and they didn't really resurrect them. Maybe they did things behind the scenes. I'm still biased against them, but they resurrected themselves when we wouldn't read in prison, a violation of our God-given right to read. So they formed a committee of 100 and pressured the governor to get us some books. [Laughter] And the

Page 21
interesting thing about that, they had all these strictures on what books could not be read, and the last day—I know Joyce Cary's The Horses's Mouth was rejected. You couldn't have anything with sex in it or politics and all this stuff. The Bible would have been rejected. But my last day in prison before I came north, a book finally got through to me, and I couldn't believe it. It was a paperback book of The Life of Lenin by Leon Trotsky. And I thought, my God, I don't believe this. Then I looked at the blurbs on the back and here's the life of Lenin from his most bitter critic, the immigrant, and all this stuff, who was assassinated. I thought, you know, that some censor in Raleigh thinks that this is probably a modern time person who's fled the iron curtain or something. I mean, in terms of Trotsky, never heard of him, no doubt. So I was delighted. I just left it here. But except for Joe Straley, I think afterwards Joe said he didn't always agree with us, but he stuck by us and that's true. He may have thought we were going to fast, but he stuck right in there with us. Then he decided, I remember the night he decided he would be arrested. But after this big decision on his part, which is fairly heavy, because he was a full member of the faculty and all that, the police decided not to arrest us that night. We were occupying the alderman's chambers, and they decided not to arrest us. So Joe did not get arrested. But stuck with us, you know, right down the line, thick and thin. He'd be a good person to talk to though because he would have a perspective different than most. I'm probably still biased about some of my beliefs about it and make no bones about it. So it

Page 22
was that summer that the kind of parting of the ways with the… And it was then primarily a black movement with about 9 or 10 whites.
PAMELA DEAN:
Again, what are you getting from the administration, the University?
PAT CUSICK:
Not direct harassment, but the thing that we got most upset about was every time a white student, a university student was arrested—and it seemed like it always happened in the middle of the night. The Dean of Women's name was Kitty Carmichael, I remember, and she would wire the parents or call them. "Did you know that your daughter has been arrested with the Negroes?" and so forth.
PAMELA DEAN:
Dean Cathy, the Dean of Men, was also doing it?
PAT CUSICK:
That's right, yes. And there would be immediate contact with the parents, which they had every right to do, but it was the way it was done. And, of course, most parents of the white southerners didn't have any idea of what their children were doing and most became very alienated from their families. So there was that that was happening. There wasn't much else because, you see, we weren't meeting on campus. We were in the black community by that period of time.
PAMELA DEAN:
There were a few black students from the University?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, and they were involved. Kellser Parker, I remember, he was a very active person. He wasn't arrested. And I've forgotten the young man's name that the Honor Court—do they still have the Honor System there and the Honor Courts?
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes, it's changed considerably however.

Page 23
PAT CUSICK:
Well, they decided to make a case because he was arrested. So they were going to try him at the Honor Court and, like, get him kicked out of school because he was in the movement. So that was a very, so bits and pieces of the University.
Our big mistake, I said it in the book and I still believe, our biggest tactical mistake was not putting more of the burden on the University. I mean that's where we should put our leverage rather than the town. We and SNCC in Atlanta were the only two places in the South that were going after a public accommodations law. But in both places it seemed very doable because we were only one vote away in Chapel Hill. We actually thought we would get that ordinance, and it would have been the first one in the South prior to the national law. So that part, I think we were correct in our tactics and our strategy. We were stupid in that we did not involve the University more, as obviously the University has leverage on the town.
PAMELA DEAN:
They're not quite synonymous but there's an awful lot of overlap.
PAT CUSICK:
No, and a lot of parents of kids had pressure put on them, different places where they worked in the University. I couldn't say it was University policy because it was supervisors [unclear] . That type of thing.
PAMELA DEAN:
But there was nothing coming from the administration in support of what you were doing?
PAT CUSICK:
No, and if you look at the size—some people tended to disbelieve me later on. I don't know the number of faculty there were then but it was considerable. But if you look at the number

Page 24
of faculty, that Joe Straley was the only one is pretty shameful when you stop to think about it, pretty shameful. But there may have been, I don't know about indirect pressures. I mean, we certainly knew they were appalled and not in favor.
PAMELA DEAN:
You were no longer a student, no longer an employee?
PAT CUSICK:
No, I had resigned and I was full-time with the… I'd been kicked out of my house. I lived on Spring Lane which is a street right above Rosemary Street. And I had to go to a Magistrate's Court because the landlord kicked me out for having trash in my house—namely that's a synonym for black people.
PAMELA DEAN:
Who was it that was staying with you a lot then?
PAT CUSICK:
Quinton Baker, who's now in Springfield, and others too. It was kind of a little hub. And then I moved into…
PAMELA DEAN:
What was the address there?
PAT CUSICK:
210 Spring Lane.
PAMELA DEAN:
I'll have to go check and see.
PAT CUSICK:
210 Spring Lane, has a white porch, had a white porch. Little dirt alley right off of Rosemary Street about a block parallel to…
PAMELA DEAN:
I know some people who live there. I know the street, and I bet it's the same house.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, interesting little place. And so then we moved from there into, we were pretty much anathema that summer, we moved into a fraternity house, believe it or not. There was one unusual fraternity, St. Anthony's Hall. The person who was actually arrested more than anybody in the movement was John Schively, a white fraternity member, who then became quite an

Page 25
organizer in Alaska. His father founded Bunker Hill Community College and a number of colleges around Boston. So I've had touch with John and his father. But St. Anthony's Hall, it was sort of a maverick fraternity. So we stayed there for a week because I had all this furniture. We had a whole truck full of furniture and we just dumped it into the fraternity house. We stayed there. It was closed for the summer. But we couldn't stay there long. Then we moved right down the street to the Wesley Foundation and stayed there for a couple of weeks, maybe a month. Then we got kicked out there. The bishop got involved, the Methodist Bishop of North Carolina. Then I went into, above the Varsity Theater, I had a little room. I was there when I served my first prison sentence. Then when I came out, I moved into the black community. I stayed behind a little restaurant called The Chicken Box #2, and I stayed there, and I never tried to live in the white community. I didn't want to, and also we were protected there. So I got a very different view of Chapel Hill too, because the view from the black community was much different from just a few blocks away. Just like my whole sense of North Carolina was formed by the University and the chain gangs. You know, get all these different views. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
Different poles.
PAT CUSICK:
At the same place, the same place. And I guess one of the things that constantly inspired me was, not much Martin Luther King—I mean, definitely so, and he had me at a retreat one time and it was great and all this stuff—but actually the teenagers, the young people. I was enjoined. There was an

Page 26
injunction on me. I couldn't enter the grounds of the high school there. Then there was a grand jury indictment of criminal insurrection against the state, steming from the night we sealed off the city hall. But the fact that so much of this happened in so short a period of time, just in terms of events…
PAMELA DEAN:
Eighteen months.
PAT CUSICK:
Movement, and what happened, and then the change in me, from someone that did not want to march because that was too radical, then at one time to be laying up under the car, police things. Then we decided to die, you know, at one point. We had a fast for a week. It was Dr. King who talked us out of going all the way and dying. We were going to die right there on Franklin Street.
PAMELA DEAN:
In front of the post office.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, yes, Lord. I guess the other thing that sticks out most to me was my first prison sentence, the thirty days. That was very heavy. We were very naive then too, because we thought that if four of us, we could have paid forty dollars and be gone. But we decided to…
PAMELA DEAN:
This is in December.
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah, I had calmed down. By that time I had gone to Danville, Virginia. I was working with Kings' groups, and I came down to go to trial and planned to go back to Danville. And that's how some more organization got involved in Chapel Hill. Because when I got hung up there, some people from SNCC and from SCLC and stuff came in. The trial was very interesting. I was thinking of it the other day. I had jury duty here. I was in

Page 27
the jury pool all day. I had no prosecutor. I'll never serve on a jury in this country because they ask you if you've had any involvement, and prosecutors don't want you. But, you know, they ask the question, "Do you think that Negroes," because that was the term used then, "and whites, and whites who associate with Negroes have the same rights under the Constitution?" And so, of course, they couldn't get any jurors that would say yes. So we went through the whole jury list. Then we had a decision, do we make them spend money, because that was one of our tactics, and just keep on drawing a jury, or do we go ahead and just have a trial? We decided to have a trial. I guess over lunch, we were eating at the black high school in Hillsborough because there was no place else you could eat under the apartheid rules. So it was over lunch we decided, "Let's serve the sentence." It was in line with the nonviolent philosophy and what we'd been very much saying, "Go to jail without bail," and all this stuff. Then we naively thought though that if four of us went to jail, the chain gang, thirty days over Christmas, this would move the heart of Chapel Hill. Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong! But what it did do, which was right in line though with Gandhi's principles of nonviolence, when you do anything like that, or a fast or what, the biggest effect is on your own followers. So when we served the thirty days, that really kicked off the movement in a very big way in terms of our own supporters. It did nothing toward moving the heart of the Chapel Hill liberals, much less the establishment.

Page 28
PAMELA DEAN:
But the black community and those few white supporters were moved?
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. Then it kicked off mass arrests and everything like that. That's when it really kicked off.
PAMELA DEAN:
When you were in jail in December…
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah, in prison.
PAMELA DEAN:
There were about 150 arrested in that period.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. So us moving the minds and hearts of Chapel Hill didn't happen, but it did move our own supporters.
PAMELA DEAN:
That's when you started getting the sit-ins in a lot of the businesses, Watts Restaurant, etc. etc.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. And it was very meaningful for me, almost a spiritual thing happened to me, I mean, I refused to cooperate. So I didn't eat or work, went on this fast, and that was just very heavy internally and all this type of thing. Also I was by myself. I mean, I wasn't surrounded by people in the movement or singing songs, and so it was a very heavy, heavy experience for me, which was good in the long run.
PAMELA DEAN:
When you said you were going too fast, the issue was that you wanted to be in an integrated facility?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, the issue was, which I did my best in my university manner to explain to the captain of the chain gang camp, was that participation in evil is evil. And we very much tried to practice that. Those of us who were white in the movement did not go into segregated facilities at all. So it dawned on me, this was not preplanned, but I was on my way to the Durham chain gang for thirty days, and it dawned on me this is a

Page 29
segregated prison. What should I do about it? So I announced in my best university manner, God help me, to the captain, that, you know, participation in evil was evil. I mean the whole nine yards. Of course, he was looking at me in utter amazement. So it was Saturday afternoon and the chain gang wasn't working, so when they brought me into the—I don't know whether you saw the movie Cool Hand Luke or not—but it was very similar. And when I saw that movie the first time, I said the writer had to have been on a North Carolina chain gang. I found out it was true. I went into this great big place where all the convicts were. Everyone's always interested when a new person comes in. Have they seen him before or whatever. So the guard, before opening the door to put me in there, said, "This is one of them nigger-loving demonstrators from Chapel Hill. And he just told the captain that he'd rather eat and sleep with niggers than you guys." Click, goes the door. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
Nice welcome. And how did they respond to you after that little announcement?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, I went over, I was scared to death, and was laying on my bunk, and all these bunks were very close together. They had an early supper, and so they rang the bell for supper and you were supposed to line up. Then you all shuffle over to this other place. So I didn't get off my bunk because I wasn't going to participate. So the guard came over and he said, "You either get your but up and eat, or no one in this camp eats." Oh God, so I thought, well, I won't make the decision here. I'll at least go over to the mess hall, and so I did. Talking wasn't

Page 30
allowed, but when you finished with your tray, what you're supposed to do is turn around and put your back to the table. And when everyone's back is to the table, everyone had finished, and you got up and went off. So I just immediately turned my back to the table. It was very obvious that I was doing. And it really, I think it saved my life, because that night they wanted to do me in, the guards did, but they wanted the convicts to do it. One convict came over, and he said, "You know, I really admire what y'all been doing. I'm really a socialist. I feel you should know that they're going to kill you tonight." And he said, "I'm not going to help you because I would get killed to, but I feel you have the right to know." So I thought, "My Lord, why did you tell me?" So I was scared. I started praying. I pulled my blanket up to my chin. Nothing happened that night. They roughed me up a little bit the next day, the convicts. Nonviolence, the whole philosophy has been greatly misunderstood, I think, in this country. And we read a bit of Gandhi. The [unclear] , the soul force, it's not just passive resistance. It is a very positive type of power. So what started happening, they started getting curious because I was bucking the system, the system that was oppressing them. And I started elaborating on some things that I'd never heard the civil rights movement addressing, at least not at that time. We were also after jobs for poor whites. [Laughter] When that started taking place is when then they called the major—in those days about five camps were supervised by a major—and they called the major out, and they had a little trial in the captain's office because of my

Page 31
non-participation. So they sentenced me to the hole. So I stayed in the hole a couple or three days. Then I guess the captain probably decided that this was not in his experience—he wasn't the most educated man on earth—so that's when he decided to pass the buck and send me over to the penitentiary at Raleigh. So then I was transferred to the isolation unit at Raleigh.

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[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
PAMELA DEAN:
This is Tape 2 of an interview with Pat Cusick on January 19, 1989.
PAT CUSICK:
So for me it was a very different experience because I didn't have the solidarity of the movement around me. This was a very lonely, I mean, it was just me in there. The other three people that had been sentenced were different places. Mrs. Glover didn't serve time. She was a black housewife. Her kid was ill, and I guess Charleis Cotton was at the Hillsborough jail, and I've forgotten where VanRyker was.
PAMELA DEAN:
She was still just a teenager, wasn't she?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, but we were not together. We were chosen symbolically, the four, and we knew that—a matron from the black community. I was representative of the civil rights organizers. Now, what was Van Riper, the white coed? She was symbolic of white students and Charleis was symbolic of the black high school students. We were chosen very carefully to send a message. So it was a very meaningful experience for me to decide to, you know, with the fast and everything, and I was in this horrible place over in Raleigh. I was scared too because we were in a two person cell. You didn't get out at all. We were right under death row. It was just like the movies, you know, these big bays and everything. Nasty, filthy, dirty, and the guy that I was in the cell with was a man that had just been put down from death row. He had been commuted from death and was to serve life. He had a big knife. Most convicts do, and he would sharpen it all the time, and he was a real staunch racist. His biggest desire

Page 33
was to get out so he could—at that time in Mississippi there was a general of the Army, retired, General Walker who was leading the charge in Mississippi, and a man, Byron D. Beckwirth, who was the assassin of Medgar Evers. Well, those were his two heros in life, and he wanted to get out and lead the white people in killing all civil rights workers and blacks. So I though, "Oh my Lord, what have I gotten into here?"
PAMELA DEAN:
Did they choose him special for your cellmate?
PAT CUSICK:
I have no idea. [Laughter] They also put in the record—Ehle found it when he was writing the book—that I did indeed eat which was not true. But I mean, they had all these things. Then they had me go see the prison psychiatrist because obviously a white southerner taking these positions must be deranged. So I'd have these stupid interviews with this prison psychiatrist. Then after that didn't work, the Commissioner of Prisons, George Randall, and I started having talks, really great guy. Had a hard time with him because he had integrated a couple of prisons with the state not knowing it, and his goal was to integrate the prison system. Now, I was spoiling his game plan.
PAMELA DEAN:
Calling attention to it.
PAT CUSICK:
So we'd have all these long discussions. He would pose arguments to me, and I would answer him. So finally on Christmas eve morning, I guess it was, he said, "I want you to eat." I don't know how many days [I'd fasted], twenty or something. "There's soon going to be bodily damage, and it's a shame." And he said, "I want you to know that I am not going to yield because to put you in a black camp is obviously not integration. You

Page 34
have to admit that." And he said, "You've hit a stone wall. I don't want you to answer me now but I want you to think. Wait twenty-four hours and give me your answer to come off the fast." Because he said, "I'm not yielding." Really great guy. So I went back and I had that decision to make, over Christmas eve. So I decided, and I guess it was Christmas afternoon, he called me up. And he said, "You know, you've really messed up my Christmas." He was an Episcopalian. "At midnight mass, you really messed my whole Christmas service up. What have you decided?" So I told him. He laughed, he said, "I knew that's what you were going to decide." He told me then they had a work release place at Sandy Ridge in Guilford County, which I wasn't eligible for work release because you have to be in prison quite a while, but it was an integrated facility. But there was a small cadre of people there who worked in the kitchen and slopped the hogs and did things like that. And if he transferred me there, would I come off my fast? And I thought about it a few minutes and I said yeah. So that night I was transferred over to Greensboro. And if you ever want to see something funny, see a person that hasn't eaten in 20 days, handcuffed, peeling oranges, that break their fast, which I did. I was in a car full of three armed men, and we arrive—in terms of the structure, it's very similar to the Durham Camp, the same type of big bay. I was glad though. It was integrated. And I'm putting my stuff down on my bunk, and the convicts could watch T.V. about two hours at night. They had a T.V. up, came down from the ceiling. And they had the news, and they said, "Oh, a flash has just been received. Pat

Page 35
Cusick has been transferred from Raleigh," blah, blah, blah, "to a unit, and it's rumored in Guilford County. And he did this, that, and the other thing, and he is so and so." And I thought, "Oh God, here we go again." But I served a few days. I still had a few days, not that long left there. Joe Straley drove over when I was released and I went back to Chapel Hill. But I was to encounter George Randall again before I did my year sentence. You'd best start asking me questions because I will just go off on a million tangents, and not necessarily in a substantive order either, because it's almost stream of consciousness when I start thinking about this stuff.
PAMELA DEAN:
You're doing just fine as far as my purposes are concerned. While you were in jail in December there, were you in touch with anybody at all back in Chapel Hill? Were you aware of what was going on, the increase in the sit-ins, the increase in arrests?
PAT CUSICK:
No, well, once. I'd been in maybe a week and Floyd McKissick came to see me. I smuggled out like a little letter which then appeared in, I guess, the Village Voice, and that ended that type of thing. But I knew that there were… And then on Christmas eve, Joel Fleishman, who still lives in Chapel Hill—he was the high up at Yale and he's very up high at Duke.
PAMELA DEAN:
He's vice president of something or other.
PAT CUSICK:
Joel and I had not been close because Joel had a, he would always get the coterie of brightest liberals sort of around him, and John Donne was one of those. Then John Donne went with the movement. But people persuaded Joel to come because he would

Page 36
be able to get into prison to see me. He came over Christmas eve to bring me food and things, which, of course, I was fasting but… I very much appreciated that. My first Christmas up here, I wrote Joel and told him. But he told me what was happening. Then every Christmas to date we exchange this long… And then when I did go to Duke in '80, he was there in the meeting with Terry Sanford. So yes, I did know, though not all the details of it.
PAMELA DEAN:
But you were aware there was a lot of activity.
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah, and that had been planned. I didn't know just what but we were going to use this to kick off that. We also thought, like I said, we would move the University and the liberal establishment and the town, and, of course, that didn't happen.
PAMELA DEAN:
It was right about this time that Sanford did an about-face and came in and announced opposition to all the things that you folks were doing. A year before that he had been endorsing desegregation. Now, he's saying that while the idea may be a good one, the way you're going about it is absolutely wrong.
PAT CUSICK:
I have a theory about that because I've seen it in other settings with other people, and Ehle quotes it in the book, I think. The playwright that had been around Chapel Hill, Paul Green, said something about Chapel Hill was a lighthouse, but something about its base. And I think in terms of Terry Sanford, and I still have mixed emotions about Terry Sanford, certainly in the line-up of southern governors, etc., etc., he was exemplarily. I mean, there's no doubt. I won't take away from

Page 37
that. And it took a lot of courage at various points in time. But he did not, and a lot of people react this way, Harvard is reacting very much this way in this town. In your own house or in your own base, you don't like to have things exposed. And we were attacking the bastion of liberalism, and they just could not understand. It was partially desegregated. There were some desegregated restaurants. Why were we saying they all had to be, you know? And it was embarrassing and he got very upset about that. Later on, he blamed the defeat of Richardson Pryor on us.
PAMELA DEAN:
What do you thing about that?
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, I totally disagree to this day. I think the reason Pryor got defeated was the food tax. Terry Sanford put a tax on food. I mean, to blame—and he specifically blamed us in Chapel Hill for polarizing the whole damn state—not so. The state was certainly polarized on racial matters, but it wasn't due to just us in Chapel Hill. Just from conversations I had with white convicts and stuff who were not voters, but nevertheless, the main anger at Terry Sanford that they transferred to his protegee was the tax on food which was atrocious. That's in my view. Course, he will probably forever say, I don't know what his view is now. But I think that's why. But yes, he did. He didn't like what was going on in Chapel Hill, because we got more militant in our slogans and things when we did the big thing in February, the big action on February 1. I know one of the signs was "Chapel Hill, Home of Candy Coated Racism." [Laughter] I mean, that just did not go over well at all. I guess I felt then and I still feel to this day that because Chapel Hill had been

Page 38
liberal, because it had the reputation of upholding civil liberties and so forth, and had been a beacon as compared to other southern institutions, it had more responsibility. It should have been out there itself as a University and even Terry. So I don't buy that. Didn't buy it then and don't buy it now.
PAMELA DEAN:
Do you think the University and Terry Sanford basically failed to live up to their liberal reputations?
PAT CUSICK:
Oh absolutely, one University professor…
PAMELA DEAN:
There were some other University professors and some Duke professors that participated in sit-ins and did get arrested.
PAT CUSICK:
That's true. I look at Duke a little bit separately. They came over one day and then they got into our trials and things, but in terms of Chapel Hill and the University of North Carolina.
PAMELA DEAN:
Couple of professors who did get…
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, Don Sitton, he wasn't a full professor.
PAMELA DEAN:
Who was that?
PAT CUSICK:
Don Sitton. I forgot about Don.
PAMELA DEAN:
Albert Aman and William Wynn were arrested.
PAT CUSICK:
Right that's true. They were like very new in Chapel Hill. It's incorrect to say Joe Straley was the only one but they were very new. Joe was the only one that had been there a while. Joe's very active today, I understand.
PAMELA DEAN:
Oh yes.
PAT CUSICK:
Have you talked to him yet?

Page 39
PAMELA DEAN:
I haven't yet but I definitely want to. I have met him a couple of times and was impressed. Clearly his commitment has longevity.
PAT CUSICK:
And then we made a mistake that has come in good stead with me since then. So I never made the same mistake again. We gave the town an either/or, and you just don't do that. You give people some room. We set a deadline. February 1 was the deadline for passing the ordinance. We were naive in several ways. Obviously, the Chapel Hill establishment could wait us out. [Laughter] They also had access to everything. I mean, not only were our phones tapped but they knew the exact size, which was damn near zero, of our bank accounts and stuff, and we had all these monstrous bail debts. I mean they knew everything about us. Obviously, they could wait out whatever horrors we wrecked on the town on February 1.
PAMELA DEAN:
What did you think would happen when we set a deadline?
PAT CUSICK:
We thought the threat of this and everything, that they may go ahead and we'd get that other vote. Very naive, very naive. So we had February 1, and we did a good job. We sealed off all five highways coming into town with bodies. And the greatest umbrage with some people, I'm sure, is what we did—Duke and UNC were playing and it was the number one game of the week, basketball. [Laughter] And since you've been there, you know what that is. I doubt that has died down any. We seized the floor, the basketball game, yes. And blocked cars leading in and out to the gym on national television. And then in the center of town, this was the action I was in charge of, we had a whole big

Page 40
snake, the line formed a snake, we blocked the intersection at Franklin and Columbia and then further down the street. The next two nights we did similar things blocking traffic. We had a 175 people that were committed to die. They weren't all from Chapel Hill. They were students from Winston Salem and other black colleges. But everyone was committed to die that day, the hard core.
PAMELA DEAN:
Throw themselves under the on-coming cars and get run over.
PAT CUSICK:
All committed to die that day. Sounds strange sitting here saying it, just like sounds strange me fasting when I can't lose weight or calories, but yes, we were committed to die that day. So by that time, of course, they'd brought—have you heard about the bread truck? The town brought a great big bread truck to transport us.
PAMELA DEAN:
That was the new paddy wagon.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, yes. So they waited us out February 1. The next night it really got rough. And see, when Chief Blake wasn't on the scene, it could get very rough sometimes with the cops. They were under great strain. God knows the overtime hours they had worked and stuff. So they started getting kind of violent. That's when I jumped under the wheels of the car and we started doing that type of kind because they were being violent. I wasn't even scheduled to be arrested that night. But they were just a little bit out of hand. That was at the corner of Columbia and Franklin.

Page 41
PAMELA DEAN:
People were sitting down in the intersection and being pulled out roughly by the cops?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, and see, we didn't have all the leadership arrested the same night, and I was not supposed to be arrested but I got very upset. I was the one who worked with the teenagers. I was the one in charge of the direct action, specifically in terms of the teenagers which were all the ground troops. So I felt I should get out there and get up under the wheels of a police wagon.
PAMELA DEAN:
You weren't going to ask them to do something you weren't prepared to do. Stand on the sidelines and watch them get run over.
PAT CUSICK:
Right, be a leader who sent them off to whatever. But obviously, they waited us out. And there we were with all these debts and they still hadn't passed the ordinance. That was a very discouraging time. Then we decided to die with this fast. We even got so far as to discuss all the measures we would take to make sure we weren't fed intravenously and everything like that.
PAMELA DEAN:
Was the fast in front of the post office?
PAT CUSICK:
Easter, Holy Week.
PAMELA DEAN:
This was your idea? Is that right? You're the one who came up with this idea?
PAT CUSICK:
It was Dr. King who talked us out of it. I went on a retreat. He had his top staff, about twelve people each year, went on a retreat, and I was invited to participate, which was

Page 42
really great, because that's the one time I got to see him as a human being.
PAMELA DEAN:
This was before you actually had the fast?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, this was off the coast of Beaufort, South Carolina at a place called Penn Center. It had been founded by the Quakers after the Civil War, on an island called Frogmore. All these live oaks with the Spanish moss and everything, and we met for about three days. Then he brought in the heads of his affiliates. But it was during a conversation with him and with C. T. Vivian, who said it was contrary to, we weren't really with the spirit of nonviolence because we were leaving the city no room at all to manoeuvre. We were throwing down another gauntlet type of thing. Also, I think, he didn't want us to die. That we should put an ending date on it.
PAMELA DEAN:
[unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
But once again, it's biggest effect, it had no effect on the town whatsoever. It had effect on our own supporters and a little bit, I felt, with the white liberals. Some of the people who had been really upset with us for the last number of months, started coming down to post office and stuff.
PAMELA DEAN:
The tone of this was not confrontational.
PAT CUSICK:
Right, we were just going to kill ourselves. No, we weren't because we were just fasting for a week. Had to get that snide remark in. That's when all the klans gathered from around the South that Saturday night. Then Chief Blake told me the next day, he said, "Klaven Number 9 saved your life." That was the Orange County Klaven. He had it infiltrated. And he said, "They

Page 43
had decided they were going to kill y'all. They were going to come in with a drum of sulfuric acid." And he said, "The local klaven saved your life by saying, All you boys will go home and we're the ones who are going to bear the brunt of it."' So self-determination within the Klan. But I told him, "Chief, I'm really glad you didn't tell us last night. I'd have been scared." It was a very frightening thought.
PAMELA DEAN:
There were a lot of the white liberals who came out that night. A lot of people came down with the intent of protecting you.
PAT CUSICK:
And some armed folks though the arms weren't… People from the black community too. The people who had not participated because they hadn't been nonviolent and didn't feel they could be. So they were there.
PAMELA DEAN:
Here was a potential for a real good fight, a righteous fight.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh yeah, they weren't going to let that happen. The Klan drove by but that was it. And as I said, I didn't know about the acid, thank goodness, until the next day. Because I'm basically a chicken hearted, throughout all of this. Still am.
PAMELA DEAN:
You hid it well at the time.
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah.
PAMELA DEAN:
A lot of people came by. This fast lasted about a week, and a lot of people came by and talked with you.
PAT CUSICK:
And a big embarrassment was that we were joined by this coed, this young woman, from Duke. Then we didn't know until she talked into our first T.V. camera that she had decided—she'd

Page 44
tried the rice diet and other things over at Duke and it didn't work—so she decided this was a good way to lose some weight.
PAMELA DEAN:
Oh, wonderful.
PAT CUSICK:
On T.V., right, right on T.V. Oh, I'll never forget. We could have killed her.
PAMELA DEAN:
Trivialize the whole thing.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. But it was interesting the first time I went back to walk past that patch of grass, and to walk past the Colonial Drugstore. I still couldn't go in there because I could see the owner still in there. He was perhaps the most recalcitrant. We had a big picket line there.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yeah, that was one of the perpetual holdouts.
PAT CUSICK:
And Franklin Street, Lord, it looked almost the same, you know. And some of the same institutions, like this guy at the Colonial Drugstore. That's the South, you know. There was the University Motel and the Tarheel Sandwich Shop and all. But the institutions pretty well stay. I'm sure Chapel Hill has changed but that stretch of Franklin Street, which was the battleground… I noticed some of the streets in the black community are now paved that weren't paved then. We knew this was happening anyway, Lincoln High School was done away with, I guess the next year.
PAMELA DEAN:
High school's way out on the northwest side of town.
PAT CUSICK:
And this was in Ehle's book too, the splitting of the town, which everyone blamed us for polarizing the town. I guess the next year, the one black alderman got defeated. That's true but then it was, the very day that I got the release from

Page 45
probation up here after five years was the day that Lee was elected as the black mayor of Chapel Hill. So I think we did screw things up short term, but I have no regrets except that we didn't attack the University and we did do some stupid things like the either/or and stuff like that, you know. But I think the major strategic mistake was letting the University off the hook.
PAMELA DEAN:
Was that mainly because you had started out with this seemingly possible goal of getting the accomodations ordinance? You guys got trapped in that.
PAT CUSICK:
Well, we were one vote short, and we kept thinking that we'd get that vote. And like I said, we in Atlanta, the rest of the South in terms of the city councils and different governing bodies were not that close. But it seemed so close that we'd be able to do it. So we focused everything there.
PAMELA DEAN:
Who was the fellow who was on the board of aldermen who was also the Orange County…
PAT CUSICK:
Roland Giduz.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes.
PAT CUSICK:
God. And Adeleide Waters was the liberal on the board. She was probably as upset with us as anybody. We weren't doing things in a real nice way.
PAMELA DEAN:
She wanted the changes. She wanted the public accommodations law, but she didn't want sit-ins.
PAT CUSICK:
Right, and this type of thing. And we were going too fast once again. But once again I pose Dr. King's letter as the answer to that. It wasn't her time table anymore. And that

Page 46
hurt. And, you know, I can understand that for some of the people, and especially those who were southerners. I don't know whether she was a southerner or not, I mean, originally. But they'd hung through some tough times on a tough issue, and now it wasn't their…
PAMELA DEAN:
It was all rushing by them. They weren't leading anymore.
PAT CUSICK:
Either young, uneducated black youth or black Baptist preachers, for crying out loud. [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
You're probably familiar with Bill Chafe's Civility and Civil Rights about the Greensboro sit-ins.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
And the integration of Greensboro schools. Basic thesis is about the power of civility to prevent change.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, very much.
PAMELA DEAN:
We won't listen to you unless you're civil.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
You're not a legitimate spokesman for your interests unless you're civil.
PAT CUSICK:
Well, I see right here in the work I've been doing. I've been changing tactics lately. Been going to the South End Historical Ball even, which is a whole thing here. No, very much, I think that that's true in the South. But it's not only the South. I think that the racism in this country, our conditioning to it is such, that in liberal movements and progressive movements, white folks have a hard time coming under black leadership, very much so, very much so. Now, that will

Page 47
never be stated. And I keep seeing it, even within the Rainbow Coalition somewhat, which I'm very heavily involved with that. And I'm not saying it's racist, per se, but it's one of the byproducts of racism.
PAMELA DEAN:
I think that in the Chapel Hill case it's also class problem, educated professors listening to uneducated high school students?
PAT CUSICK:
That's right.
PAMELA DEAN:
I mean, that's turning everything totally upside down.
PAT CUSICK:
And the music, you know. I mean, I felt it myself. Everything was set around the black church. I'd been raised as a Roman Catholic which is a lot more staid and I went to this monastery school, Gregorian chant, and I was not used to this type of exuberance and the music and everything. Then I got so I really liked it. I'll never forget, because I worked in the eastern part of the state too, right around Williamston, and they were having sit-ins at churches, not sit-ins, but they would send teams of two young people, and not just young people, to white churches, who would then not admit them on Sunday. Some would. And I remember one time all the teams came back in and some of them had actually gotten into the service. I'll never forget one young man stood up and he said, "You know, I don't know why we'd ever want to go with these white folks. It was the deadest service I ever…" He said, "The man was boring at the sermon." And he said, "God, the music, it was awful. And it was just so dry. They don't have any spirit." [Laughter] It was very funny. I wish I'd had a recording that could then be played

Page 48
back later on to some of the professors who found the hand clapping so upsetting. It was on both sides, I mean, the difference of culture and class.
But all in all, and in my talks, I get called upon to talk a lot, around Boston, the middle schools, around the time of King's birthday and stuff. One of the things I concentrate on with these kids, because they have no idea of what happened, is what segregation was like. Because they can't appreciate what happened if they don't know the horrors of segregation—the segregated bathrooms, the segregated Bibles. In Greensboro they had a white and colored Bible. Jim Peck in New York, on the first Freedom Ride, when he refused to swear on the segregated Bible, he got thirty extra days on the chain gang as contempt of court. So if you don't know that. How did I get off on this tack? Oh, then it's become fashionable to say, well, we really didn't do that much, you know. We did. We threw off what was really legal apartheid forever, and that was a hell of an accomplishment. Now, we didn't get much more than that, but that, in itself, was a very important step.

Page 49
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]
PAT CUSICK:
Because to have the whole power of the law against you and the courts and the whole system against you, it's much different when that's not true. So at least, that was done. So I'm glad I had the opportunity. I'm glad I was there. I'm glad I was swept up in these events. It certainly changed my life.
PAMELA DEAN:
How did you feel though at the time, after that second series of trials and the march, you'd all agreed to plead nolo.
PAT CUSICK:
Well, you know about the deal. We made a deal. Then we had to swear in open court that we had not made a deal.
PAMELA DEAN:
Tell me about that. Tell me about that decision.
PAT CUSICK:
Well, it was a heavy decision. We realized that we had Orange County, anyway, over a barrel. Because they had spent a fortune on the Duke professors' trials. They are already spent a lot on our trials. And they were coming to have a new bond issue. So we knew we had a bargaining chip. Also having served the thirty days, I very much did not want these high school students to go to prison, and most, 90%, were black high school students. So our attorneys, who we didn't realize then were under fantastic pressure from the SBI, but they said that the state and Judge Mallard interested in a deal. If we pled nolo, which, of course, we didn't know what that meant and they explained it, this would give them the opportunity to not spend all that money and have these mass trials because they could dispense with it very fast.

Page 50
PAMELA DEAN:
There were about 1500 grand jury indictments coming out of all this.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
So there really was mass…
PAT CUSICK:
I think the largest mass number, prior to the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley, at that time, and pretty much ignored in the histories of the civil rights movement as compared with Birmingham and Mississippi and so forth. So we discussed it. Part of the deal was at first that only two people would have to serve time. That would be John Donne and myself, and we'd serve thirty days.
PAMELA DEAN:
You were the two visible leaders?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes. We thought that would be a pretty good deal. By that time we'd run up these monstrous, we were $70,000 in legal debt. And there was no base to draw any money from, and God knows, we'd tried everything. So by that time we were convinced they were not going to pass the law. So it seemed like a pretty good deal. So we had big meeting, and we had to make a decision. And I thought it would be very bad if we did it in the usual mass meeting atmosphere, the songs and the spirits and the everything. It had to be very calm. So I played devil's advocate against serving time. I pointed out, really painted a very grim picture of prison because I didn't want people sweep away by emotion, especially young people, and make a decision to go to jail.
PAMELA DEAN:
Wanted to be heroes, wanted to be martyrs.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, so we decided to pled nolo. Course, we thought we were going to get thirty days because that was the ordinance we

Page 51
had violated in Chapel Hill, not realizing the state ordinance of blocking the way to a public or a place of worship was a year. But they were very good all over the South at digging up these ancient ordinances.
PAMELA DEAN:
That was stretching it pretty far.
PAT CUSICK:
We had a sense of humor though. We said, "God knows, what's the well? It must have been the Old Well." We couldn't figure out what the church was. Never do the Old Well. But then it really went against the grain to state in open court that they'd been no approach to us about any kind of a deal. So then we pled nolo, and then my other egotistical chagrin was when, I had a speech prepared. They asked if we had anything to say and I said, "No," because I was going to give my little speech, which I felt was my due if I was going to go away to prison again. So the attorney said, "Pat, please don't say anything because you still have so many people left to sentence that you will antagonize this guy and he'll double everybody else's sentence." This was a very unusual judge. I guess you've read about him, Raymond B. Mallard. So we stood mute. Then we got more than thirty days, and they pretty well sentenced the entire executive committee except Ben Spauling. Ben was our treasurer. He was a black student. But we didn't let him get arrested. He didn't have any charges because he was our treasurer. So we had enough sense not to do that. But everyone else got sentenced according to their perceived rank. But I had begun negotiations with George Randle. I called George Randle a few days before that and I said, "It looks like there may be as many as 150 coming in."

Page 52
He said, "Oh my God Pat, are they going to take the same position you did." I said, "I think so." He said, "Well, can you come over to Raleigh to see me." So I drove over to Raleigh and we had a long talk. He said, "This is going to really screw up the prison system, but I can't transfer a number of people like I did you over to the work release. There are jurisdictions. You're going to have to go to the Durham Camp." I said, "Well, I just wanted you to know that we're in for it again, all of us." Also, I talked at length about the youth of the high school students. I said, "There's such a difference between me and some of these kids and I'm very concerned."
PAMELA DEAN:
You were in your mid-thirties?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, I was thirty. So I drove back to Chapel Hill. He said, "There's nothing I can do." So we had to raise money, that was part of the deal, to pay off some debt. And we were calling all over, and a lot of the liberals in Chapel Hill refused to contribute. They said, "Well, you broke the law." "Yes." Oh, I was so mad. So we were calling all over the country. Any one who had an idea. And the kids went out with mason jars collecting quarters. Some of the liberals did give but, by and large, they didn't. That was just the end for me with them. But it's true we did break the law and we were willing to pay. But the high school students.
PAMELA DEAN:
Did you break the law you were sentenced under?
PAT CUSICK:
No, no, but the high school students, I was very upset about the high school students. So as it worked out, he mostly

Page 53
kept his deal. It was more than two. He sentenced our whole committee but the kids didn't go.
PAMELA DEAN:
It was you and John and Quintin.
PAT CUSICK:
Buddy Teager.
PAMELA DEAN:
J.B. Henry, Arthur Crisp, Rosemary Ezra, and Lou Calhoun. Tell me something about them. We haven't talked about some of these people at all and their involvement.
PAT CUSICK:
Lou was much more active than the book would indicate. The son of John C. Calhoun, a white southerner, he was head of the Wesley Foundation before he got in the SPU.
PAMELA DEAN:
He came to civil rights, many southern civil rights people did, through the church.
PAT CUSICK:
And Lou and I have remained close, and he was exiled north too. They certainly achieved their purpose there. Lou and I are close friends. Rosemary's a strange one. Oh, I'm on tape. Well, Rosemary, if you're listening, you are kind of strange, dear. I don't know whether Rosemary's still in Chapel Hill or not. She had come from the North someplace. She wasn't a student, and she had money. But she didn't look like she had money. Just a person who would be regarded as an oddball, but a real nice person. She wasn't in the leadership of the Freedom Committee, but she owned a house. That's it, she had enough money to own a house. So that became kind of a headquarters for us in a lot of ways, and when visiting agitators would come to town, they'd stay at Rosemary's and stuff like that.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, if she wasn't actually part of the leadership, she made herself pretty visible.

Page 54
PAT CUSICK:
Right, she was a resource and very visible. And she was white which made her very visible. J. V. Henry was another southerner, but he was with SNCC, the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, in Danville. I met J. V. in Danville.
PAMELA DEAN:
He was one of "them outside agitators."
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah, he came to town because when I did my thirty days that drew him and Lavert Taylor, who wasn't sentenced and was one of King's staff. He and I were very close friends.
PAMELA DEAN:
He was one of the ones who was on the post office hunger strike?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, yes. And John and I were very close friends. John died in '82. Quintin's in Springfield. Quintin was head of the NAACP Commandos. He was a student leader at North Carolina Central—now it's University—it was College then. Then he came over to Chapel Hill as a resource for us, and then he himself got involved.
PAMELA DEAN:
He was not a Chapel Hill student?
PAT CUSICK:
No. He was a resource to help us with the nonviolent workshops, and then he himself got involved, and pretty soon he was in Chapel Hill full-time.
PAMELA DEAN:
How did you feel when these sentences came down? More people were sentenced than you expected, much, much harsher sentences, even bizarre sentences.
PAT CUSICK:
In prison, the lifers and all those folks would say, "Like, all you got is a year? I could do a year standing on the top of my head." I mean, that was regarded as a joke. It was no joke to me. When I heard him say twelve months of hard labor, my

Page 55
heart literally sank. I mean that seemed forever. And having been in before, I knew it was not going to be a picnic. I think we were pretty shocked by the length of the sentences.
PAMELA DEAN:
It wasn't only the sentence itself, the active sentence. Long probation with these conditions.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh yes, I have a copy. I happened to be going through some stuff last night. Did I ever remember to bring the, yes, this is the original. [Gets out a paper] The judgement was a year at hard labor for blocking the way to a public [unclear] place of worship, and then two years for resisting arrest, which was going limp. And the judge asked, "Will the defendant consent to a suspended sentence on the two years and be placed on probation?" And I turned to the attorney and said, "What does this mean?" And he says, "Let the record show that the defendant refused to answer." So I then went back to another room, and they had this probation agreement, which we will look at, for me to sign. [interruption]
This very paper. So I said, "I'm not going to sign this. I'm not going to sign this." Actually, it's a moot question whether it is a violation of my rights, but at the time I said, "I think this is a violation of my rights." So, I said, "I'm not going to sign." And so they said, "Well, you have exactly two minutes, and if you don't sign, the judge will make this an active sentence, and you'll have three years to serve instead of one." So I took almost two minutes and decided I would sign. I said, "Give me the pen." That very signature. So that was a surprise.

Page 56
But, of course, everyone was placed under that same prohibition, and that was designed, of course, to effectively block, stop, the movement in Chapel Hill.
PAMELA DEAN:
So not only were they putting you away for one year, they were insuring that you couldn't do anything connected with the civil rights movement anywhere.
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. But also, there were subsequent trials and stuff, and there were people that didn't serve any active time that still had that judgement. So it meant there could be nothing. And as you notice, that's for any cause whatsoever, or for associating. So things looked pretty grim. But you know, we really believed in what we were doing, and we really thought we were going to change the whole fabric of this country. We didn't do that but it's a good thing we thought we were though, I think.
PAMELA DEAN:
After the sentences, did you think that anything was going to happen then?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, I thought that in Chapel Hill the movement had been temporarily stopped.
PAMELA DEAN:
[unclear] despair?
PAT CUSICK:
Oh no, I wasn't in despair at all over the movement. Because I thought the movement would succeed, and it would only be a matter of time in Chapel Hill. It's just like I feel about Beijing today. They clamped the lid on, and it will be very effective for a while, but obviously that movement there is not over. So, you know, it was a lot of cold water dashed in your face on that thing. And then I was in prison when Cheney, Goodman, and Shwerner were killed. And Goldwater was nominated

Page 57
and gave his famous—what was it?—extremism in defense of liberty is not … whatever. So it was kind of a frightening summer. But we weren't in despair, not happy, but it did look like the movement was effectively stopped in Chapel Hill. But I had no doubt that throughout the South, we were going to get something. It was just too widespread. I had been to Danville and different places and met too many of these young students that—so very optimistic, though temporarily not liking where I was.
They also did other things too. I mean when I went full-time with the movement, I owed Sears some money, and all of us were in debt. We were served with additional stuff the first day in, additional time, if all these things weren't paid off, and Floyd McKissick paid them off. They kept coming out with additional warrants to every creditor on earth. We had pled for parole, and by this time John Ehle was becoming an advocate of ours to try to get us out.
PAMELA DEAN:
And he had connections in the governor's office.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. He's quite an idea person. He's the one that came up with the idea for the North Carolina School of Performing Arts and different things which had worked. But the word came back that we were not going to get parole unless we agreed to go north. By that time, I was alone—they had split us up—and I said, "Well, I'm not going north. I mean, I'm a tenth generation, or whatever, southerner. I'm not going north." And so then they came back with a probation officer to talk about the terms of the probation, and they laid some additional ones down.

Page 58
The one that really got me, when I really saw the handwriting on the wall, was they had to approve of my employment and all of this. So it certainly meant I wasn't going to be a movement organizer, at least not on the surface. But they told me that I would not be able to operate a motor vehicle, nor ride in a motor vehicle, in the state of North Carolina during this five year probation.
PAMELA DEAN:
In other words, don't come back.
PAT CUSICK:
So I saw very clearly that if I did not leave, obviously I would be in prison. Because there is no earthly way you can honor that in a southern state. I mean, it's not like Boston. You must at least ride. So that's when I said okay. Then John Ehle had gone to work for the Ford Foundation. They were funding a new agency in Boston called Action for Boston Community Development, the CAP Agency, before the Economic Opportunity Act passed. Ford was the sole funding source. In order to get to the North, we had to have a job and a place of residence and be accepted by a northern state. So Ford called up this agency—they were the only funding source—and said, "We need to get this person out of prison." So that's why Boston was for me. John had also seen the computer centers and Harvard and MIT, and there was a job waiting for me there, which I refused to take. John Ehle wanted the book to come out right, in his view, which was that we would all go back to doing what we were doing prior.
PAMELA DEAN:
[unclear]

Page 59
PAT CUSICK:
I couldn't go back. I did not want to go back to math and the sciences, so I took the job at ABCD as a coding clerk. The entrance to Boston was something. I had five dollars. I had a shoebox marked "North Carolina Department of Corrections," a toothbrush. Leaving was interesting, they would not let me get near Chapel Hill. They made that very specific. So Lavert Taylor, they allowed him to drive a suit over to Greensboro, and they brought me into the Greensboro airport under armed guard in my prison outfit. By that time though I was getting out, and my sense of humor was very near the surface. I just thought [unclear] the looks of people. You can imagine. So I enjoyed that. I mean, I'll be honest, I enjoyed that. So I went in the bathroom and changed the suit and got on the plane and—culture shock—was in New York an hour or so afterwards. John Donne was already there in John Ehle's apartment on Washington Square. So I spent the night in New York, and then John Ehle came up here with me, and we went to ABCD. Then I saw my parole officer. Parole officer said, "You did some good things in the South. I have a lot of admiration for these southern negroes, but the negroes in Boston are really awful people and not like the ones in the South, and you can't associate with them." He said, "You can't go into Roxbury." I didn't know what Roxbury was. "You have to live someplace like the backside of the hill or whatever, but you can't go to Roxbury." And I said, "Oh, Lord." It was then a couple of weeks later that I got this document in the mail, and they told me that they were going… Yeah, so I had the parole to serve out for a couple of months,

Page 60
and then this was going to take place. So I had to deal with both the parole and the probation people.
The parole and probation in North Carolina weren't working in concert, and I guess I got permission from one and not the other to go back because I pressed the case. What about my degree? I had one course short, and so I'm not allowed in the state. Yet you're requiring me to have to take the last course there. So I went down to talk to them about that. And then all of a sudden I was almost arrested on Franklin Street. I was scared to death. Whichever one of these departments wasn't in concert with the other—they may have been playing games anyway. Then this came up here. I told them downtown—Ed Brooke was attorney general and he was black—and I said, "I'm not going to agree to this thing." And they said, "Well, we have one-to-one treaties in all the states, and we're not going to jeopardize the treaty with North Carolina. So we're going to extradite you if you don't agree with this." So at the same time I thought this would be a good place to challenge this, because I'm not under the gun like the people down there. So I broke the rules, and went immediately out, and got a plane, and went to New York, and got the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to write for my materials in the South, and institute a suit against the commonwealth. When they finally wrote telling the commonwealth that they had advised me not to agree to this and that they were thinking of entering a suit, then they had a fit down here. They didn't want that.
PAMELA DEAN:
This was over the issue of your going back to North Carolina without clearly getting permission?

Page 61
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, no, no. I was saying I'm not going to abide by that.
PAMELA DEAN:
You're not going to abide by the probation conditions.
PAT CUSICK:
So they said, "We'll extradite you." But they didn't want a lawsuit. So they called me and they said, "Well, look, we're advising North Carolina—you do have to notify us, though, twenty-four hours in advance of going to any civil rights meeting and any civil rights activity or going to any meetings in Roxbury. Or at least in the morning if the meeting's at night." So I had an opportunity to really break their back on that, which I did. Actually, we were upset. We really wanted to get this into court because a probationary sentence is a sentence. It's a relaxed sentence. Instead of being inside the wall, you're outside the wall. So whether these are real violations of rights or not, you can make an argument either way. So we very much wanted to get that into the courts because the people in Orange County were under that same provision. So we were disappointed that we weren't going to get to challenge it, and that Massachusetts was relaxing. That was at the time, though, that a white minister, Reverend James Reed, went to Selma and was killed in Selma. So there was a sympathy march here of 60,000 people on Boston Commons. One leg came from Cambridge, one from BU, and one from Roxbury, the black community. I was an assistant coordinator of the march because I had gotten active here. So I had a car full of what would have been regarded as real tough Roxbury teenagers because I had a youth group here. For some

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reason I always was good with teenagers. We were going between all three legs to march. Well, Massachusetts Probation Department had a car full of people and were trying to follow me. The week prior to that, every morning I would call him and say, "I'm picketing the federal building at noon and tonight I'm going so and so." And they would send people down to walk around the building with me. Two days after that march—the people in the car behind me, who were observing, were very frightened—they called me in and said, "We're notifying North Carolina that we don't have the time or the personnel to supervise you the way they want. So just don't get arrested and report every thirty days," which I did.
PAMELA DEAN:
[unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
I found out half way though that it's the custom here, or the practice rather, that if you serve half your probation, because of the big clog in the courts, and if you haven't gotten into any trouble, they go ahead and dismiss you, just as an administrative thing. So I found out about that and I went down and asked them. So they requested, they said, "We have to ask North Carolina." So, of course, North Carolina said no, no way. So I'm probably one of the few people who served a full probationary sentence here.
PAMELA DEAN:
So you were on probation the full five years?
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. Every thirty days I went.
PAMELA DEAN:
But it didn't stop you from being involved in civil rights. People weren't getting arrested up here the way they had been in Chapel Hill.

Page 63
PAT CUSICK:
And it was a whole different type of involvement.
PAMELA DEAN:
Not throwing yourself under the wheels of a car.
PAT CUSICK:
But I felt, I was very bitter about being exiled, and I soon begin to feel like Boston was far more racist than the South ever had been, which it is. I couldn't wait for the day for the five years to be up, because I knew I'd be on that first plane going back to North Carolina.
PAMELA DEAN:
And now?
PAT CUSICK:
But you sink roots where you are. You get active. So I never did go back, at least not to live.
PAMELA DEAN:
Twenty-five years later.
PAT CUSICK:
Twenty-five years later.
PAMELA DEAN:
You're still here.
PAT CUSICK:
I'm still here.
PAMELA DEAN:
Still an activist.
PAT CUSICK:
Still an activist. I think Boston is beyond the pall in terms of racism. I spent three years in Washington, which I love. I dearly love Washington, D.C., because I think it combines a little bit of the North and a little bit of the South. I was looking at housing prices when I was south just a few weeks ago. Certainly live better in the South. So I'm still here, still active. You'd asked a question about Gay Rights, I believe, in your note. I was deep, deep, deep in the closet at the time of the civil rights movement.
PAMELA DEAN:
That would be a couple of things that would be real tough to juggle simultaneously at that time.

Page 64
PAT CUSICK:
Well, yes. But I was. I didn't act on any of my impulses in that area until after I got out of prison and came north, and then I remained very much also in the closet here. Took me a long time to get out of that closet. I was skulking around and stuff. And then finally, all my friends knew that, and I was no longer ashamed of it and the whole, my Roman Catholic upbringing, etc., etc. I got rid of all the guilt trips on that. Finally Governor Dukakis helped me to come totally out of the closet.
PAMELA DEAN:
Really? Can you explain that?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, every other year here there's a state issues convention, the Democratic Party. We've just completed one, so-called.

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[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
PAMELA DEAN:
This is Tape 3 of an interview with Pat Cusick on January 19, 1989.
PAT CUSICK:
Out of the closet, and I guess finally, most people that I was closely associated with knew that I was gay, but certainly not wide circles of folks in town or all over Roxbury. In '84 there was a state issues convention, and prior to that the governor had come out with what I regard of a very homophobic policy on foster care in terms of gays and lesbians not being able to be foster parents, and there was quite a controversy here. He got very uptight about it and there was a big battle raging. Well, at the state convention, out of around 3500 delegates, there were 13 gay and lesbian delegates, not exactly a large delegation. Not to say that there weren't more in the hall. And we were pressing for an amendment to the state charter of the Democratic party. I've never been in such a big fight over nothing. There's a section of the charter that reads, "The Democratic Party will outreach to," and then they have the laundry list—blacks, Latinos, women, the handicapped. Outreach to, not grant any kind of whatevers to. So we wanted the words, "lesbians and gay men" inserted, and he pulled out—it was the only roll call vote at the convention—he pulled out his entire machinery against this charter amendment. We got over a thousand votes. We lost 2 to 1, but we did get over a thousand votes. In the process though, his operatives had put out the misleading information, which is the kindest way I can say it, that this was a threat to the black community because we would be for taking

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minority status away from blacks in terms of all other kinds of things, which was absolutely not true. Now, the delegation that I was with, I'm vice chairman of my ward committee which is pretty much the black delegation at the place, which all sits together because it's by area and since segregation is here. So most people did not know, a lot of people in Roxbury, who I was not that closely associated with for a number of years, didn't know that I was gay. But before the convention, this was to be the only real debate in a way. There were to be four speakers, four for and four against, this big roll call vote, the only one. So one of the black city council was going to be one of the speakers, and it looked like he was not going to show up. He actually did. So the gay and lesbian political leadership came to me and said, "Pat, you have a lot of standing with the black community, and if we can't get so and so, will you be one of the speakers on the rostrum." So I thought, "Well, what the hell, if I'm going to come out, I might as well do it before 3500 people." So I was on the stairs going up to the rostrum when the city councilor got there, so I did not have to do it. But that time, in my own delegation, the Roxbury delegation, it was pretty well open. So I have the governor to thank for that, one of the few things I have to thank him for. Then for a while, for about six months, I got involved, for the first and only time, in just specifically gay politics here. I was on the steering committee of the Boston Lesbian-Gay Political Alliance. But I soon got out of that. I don't like single issue politics, and my efforts are almost totally devoted to building the Rainbow Coalition, which

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we had before Jesse started it nationally. So I'm an officer in the local Rainbow. I was Jesse's field director for eastern Mass, and I was the one Jackson rep of the four Massachusetts reps on the platform committee at Denver and Atlanta. So I was very briefly in the… But at the time of Chapel Hill, I was not, I knew that I was gay. I didn't quite know what all it meant, but I was not active in that. Though I often think that, as I mentioned earlier—now, I wonder, if I had not taken some steps I did in the… And one of the important things as a white southerner or a white, in terms of the black civil rights movement—and the Rainbow Coalition is a multi-cultural, multiethnic, but the movement was certainly a black movement—is that it wasn't just for justice for black people. It also freed me. I mean, I was sick and tired of what the segregation system and that whole thing did to me. So my being involved it was a process of freeing me, and I think you don't free part of yourself. I didn't realize that then. I often wonder if I'd not been in the civil rights movement if I would have ever come out of the closet in terms of sexuality. It certainly took me a long, damn time after that to come out. And the closet's an awful place to die. I saw that sign at a Gay Rights March once, and it's very true. But I was not…
PAMELA DEAN:
Were you aware?
PAT CUSICK:
I was aware of other gays in the movement, and this is something to, I mean, you never mention names. But there were quite a few lesbians and gays. I mean, the most prominent now,

Page 68
and this is known as Bayard Rustin, but there were also people who were not publicly out of closet, quite a few.
PAMELA DEAN:
How about on the Chapel Hill campus, was there any gay activity at all?
PAT CUSICK:
I don't think there were any, there certainly were no open groups that I was aware of. See, I came there in what, '59? That was a very repressive period. I went to a few parties, sort of the last of the beats in Chapel Hill, and I suspected that a few people there might have been. But I was so bottled up, I certainly wasn't going to make any pronouncements about myself. And I would see people around the campus that I suspected were gay, but I didn't travel in a lot of those circles, some of the art circles and stuff.
PAMELA DEAN:
More common, more accepted, in the art circles?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, it usually, well, it's not in terms of demographic fact, but that's where it's observed more and people are a little bit freer to be themselves. But that would really have complicated the situation, wouldn't it? [Laughter]
PAMELA DEAN:
It would have been a terrific weapon for them [unclear] .
PAT CUSICK:
I mean, they had some lies in the records of the state. What was it the captain wrote, I didn't know this until John Ehle's book, that we practiced self-abuse so loud that it kept the whole camp…. And the capitalized, initial caps, "S" and "A" [unclear] . But to me what I've been doing in here in terms of affordable housing, and engaged in a long fight with the city, and we won. We hope to break ground on 84 units called [unclear] Court, two-thirds affordable, this summer. And through the

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organizing efforts here, there are about 500 units being built in this neighborhood. All of that, and then my work with Jesse Jackson and the Rainbow, is a continuum of what happened in Chapel Hill basically. I've never gone back to computers. Don't want anything to do with computers. Therefore, I know nothing about computers these days.
PAMELA DEAN:
There's been a few changes in the last twenty-five years.
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah. But very much people-oriented. I've been in Boston the whole time, except for the three years I was in Washington.
PAMELA DEAN:
What were you doing in Washington?
PAT CUSICK:
I was heading up a National Association of Executive Directors of the Community Action Agencies in the country, about a thousand of the [unclear] programs, CAP agency. I was the first director. I got fired after eighteen months. I was getting a little bit ahead of myself, I think, with the board. I saw it as an advocacy network. I think they saw it, most of them, as more of a professional organization, and I tended to be very dominant. I didn't realize I didn't have the board totally behind me. I say fired, in Washington circles it's no disgrace to come to a parting of the ways with the—it's not the same type of firing as some other place. But I loved Washington. I got Potomac fever. I see how people catch it going in and out of the White House and all that type of thing. I like Washington as a city.
PAMELA DEAN:
Are you going to run for office?

Page 70
PAT CUSICK:
No, never.
PAMELA DEAN:
You don't want to be involved on that basis?
PAT CUSICK:
No, I like to be campaign manager, to put together voter registration drives, the whole Jackson bit. Being on the platform committee was very much an honor and very interesting, and I liked that part, not as the candidate. I wouldn't be a candidate. They lead a dog's life, I think, when they're running, and God knows what happens to them later. So I'm pretty well pleased with everything, except I haven't been too successful financially. If I'd stayed in computers and didn't do the civil rights bit, I would probably have been well-off financially. I probably would have never come out of the closet sexually, so I would have probably been married, and that would have been unfair to somebody. I would maybe have been living in the Research Triangle getting ready to retire with a lot of money and just totally not happy with myself. So I'm pleased, except for the money. I could use a little more money.
PAMELA DEAN:
So in a rather strange way, not the way, I'm sure, the University intended, your experience at the University of North Carolina, your college years, were, in fact, very formative.
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. They certainly succeeded in driving us out of the South. But when I met Terry Sanford in 1980, we were discussing a poverty institute at Duke, and he said that he was glad that the prison experience didn't leave any permanent scars on me. Which I thought was a patronizing statement.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes.

Page 71
PAT CUSICK:
To say the least. But I was very nice. I said, "On the contrary, President Sanford, I really want to express my appreciation because the prison experience has contributed so much to everything I've done since then. So I owe you some thanks." But he was sincere in his paternalism, you know. His motivation was sincere and kind [Laughter] , which also fits right back in with the past and everything.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes, yes. I think that there we have another example of the validity of Bill Chafe's idea about the power of civility.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes.
PAMELA DEAN:
As you say, Sanford, within the context of the South, was a liberal governor.
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. I had a hard time wrestling that for a while, there's no doubt about that. Yet, he wasn't doing what he should have been doing when the time came. And once again, I keep urging people—people haven't heard of the Letter from the Birmingham Jail—but when we got hold of that, we mimeographed it. It was distributed widely, very widely, long before it ever hit any magazines nationally. Because that argument was just prevalent out there, and that was such a good response.
PAMELA DEAN:
Very important, very important document [unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
Yes. So you have read it, of course?
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes. I assign it to my classes.
PAT CUSICK:
Then in the book, Parting the Waters, they go into it quite a bit, the events leading up to that. [pause] Chapel Hill, Franklin Street.

Page 72
PAMELA DEAN:
I think we've gone through the questions I had, the points I had.
PAT CUSICK:
All right. I don't know that I've given you that much.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, I think you have, definitely.
PAT CUSICK:
I guess the one thing I would like to add, if anything, after twenty-five years—and I definitely want to say this because it was in vogue several years ago to trot out people who were active in the '60s and are now stockbrokers and stuff. In fact, I got a call from the Durham Morning Herald, maybe ten years ago, and they were interviewing me over the phone, and they were really trying to make that be the outcome. I mean, they had a preconception.
PAMELA DEAN:
You had joined the establishment somehow?
PAT CUSICK:
Yes. "What are you doing now? Oh, you are?" But if anything, I think that the twenty-five years since then, I've just become even more committed, and that's why I'm so excited about the whole Jackson movement especially around here in this neighborhood. This neighborhood is very much the "haves and the have-nots." One-third of the people make under $10,000 a year, 52% are low income. Yet the median income is $28,000. So that means, of course, there's no middle. There's great affluence and great poverty. And the gap between black and white, demographically, or rather, statistically, in terms of all the indicators—income and education, numbers in graduate school—it's widening. Not only is it not shrinking, it's not even remaining constant. And I think it's very frightening. Then you put drugs and stuff and all and…

Page 73
PAMELA DEAN:
And we've certainly had, at least in the last eight years, a federal administration which seemed to be doing everything in its power to widen the gap.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, there's no doubt.
PAMELA DEAN:
That was their specific intent [unclear] .
PAT CUSICK:
They set the tone, and now they have the court, and God knows where, how long that's going to be with us.
PAMELA DEAN:
What do you think of these latest court rulings rolling back civil rights?
PAT CUSICK:
I'm not surprised, and I think that will continue. I don't think they'll roll back Roe v. Wade, but I think they will roll it back somewhat, and they'll toss more on the states. But all of this in itself sets—aside from the legalities of it and the pain—it sets the tone, you know, it sets the tone. And when you have a tone that's set… Recently in this neighborhood we were in a big—we're always in big fights here—but we were in a big fight against some of the landed gentry, white, who were opposing the expansion of a drug treatment center at Boston City Hospital which is nearby. A representative of the mayor got up and said, "If we don't expand, some of the addicts are going to die." And one man stood up and said, "Let them die. They don't own property." He said this at a public hearing, and I thought when you can say that with impunity, because maybe fifteen years ago he would have believed the same thing but the tone was such you would not, at least, stand up and say that. So it's frightening. And I don't think Bush is any better than Reagan. He's just a little more stylish, not quite as hokey in speeches.

Page 74
PAMELA DEAN:
So your agency here is concerned with housing?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, we weren't supposed to be. I've turned it into something it wasn't intended to be. We direct services to the poor, but I very much believe in the original wording of the Economic Opportunity Act which has the advocacy for institutional change as well as direct services. Daniel Patrick Moynahan wrote a book called Maximum Feasible Misunderstanding, in which his thesis is that the two are mutually exclusive. I think it's very tricky but I don't think they're mutually exclusive. So I'm the organizer. I don't have an organizer. So what we did, my maps, all these colored dots on here, that's our neighborhood, and that's publicly owned land. They decided three years ago that they were going to dispose of it. So I organized a coalition of thirty agencies, churches, organizations, and the city was going to set the guideline that housing was going to be built, but it would be one-third affordable and two-thirds, market rate. So we took the exact opposite view. We said, "In this position of publicly owned land, the greater good of the public must be observed." In the housing crisis they means maximum affordable housing, so we want two-thirds. We battled for a year and we got that standard. So that's out of this office that I do that organize.
PAMELA DEAN:
Affordable housing, what's the income guidelines on that, affordable for low income people or affordable for middle class?
PAT CUSICK:
Well, what we have here under this two-thirds, is that one-third is market rate, one-third is moderate which is defined

Page 75
as between 80% and 50% of the medium family income in the Boston Standard Metropolitan Statistical Area.
PAMELA DEAN:
Which translates into what?
PAT CUSICK:
A family of two, $29,000 for a family of two would be considered moderate. Then low is below 50% of the medium. So it's one-third moderate, one-third market, one-third low. Then we fought over who was going to build on all these pink dots. We formed a consortium of the non-profit builders to not go against each other. So on each lot we had a for-profit builder vying against a non-profit. Then myself and fourteen neighbors formed a new group, thirteen blacks, two whites. We all live within one block of this piece of land, the largest lot. The city encouraged us to form because they thought we were going to do a 1960's type of proposal, and we went against the most well-heeled for-profit group. But we didn't. We put together a good proposal, $14 million dollars, and we'll build 85 units. Hope to break ground this summer.
PAMELA DEAN:
Where does the funding come from?
PAT CUSICK:
Oh God, it's smoke and mirrors and a bit here and a bit there, but it's all equity. Two-thirds of it, the low and moderate, will be in a limited equity cooperative. So there will be no rental. Everyone will have equity of one type or another. Then within that there are fifteen of what we call SROs, single room occupancy. I just happen to have behind me the decline of the lodging house rooms of Boston, and it's a severe need.
PAMELA DEAN:
That's one of the big issues of homelessness.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh yes, oh yes.

Page 76
PAMELA DEAN:
That decline in the single room occupancy hotels.
PAT CUSICK:
And there's a whole stair step. People are on the street, 22% of the homeless in Boston go to work every day and living in shelters. But this tells the story. This is my neighborhood. [unclear] This is Boston. This is the average income in '79. This is '87. This is the income needed to buy. You can see there's a little gap.
PAMELA DEAN:
And keeps getting bigger and bigger.
PAT CUSICK:
Right. So as a result of the organizing efforts, just that phase, we'll build $50 million dollars worth of housing, 500 units about, and two-thirds of it affordable. Ground will be broken this summer. So that's been sort of my main involvement work wise. Then outside of that the Jackson campaign and the Rainbow. So I'm too busy really. I'm trying now to think of how to get out of, I need more time for me. But it all started, thank you Chapel Hill, it all started in Chapel Hill.
PAMELA DEAN:
And this is the '80s version, Rainbow Coalition, affordable housing.
PAT CUSICK:
Yeah, going into the '90s.
PAMELA DEAN:
It's the '80s and '90s version of the civil rights.
PAT CUSICK:
That's right. And I'm heavily involved in voter registration around here. We managed to get some stuff in the platform of the state. So I think it's all the same thing. In terms of the Rainbow Coalition it's political power. Jesse will soon be opening a Washington office. We'll have a legislative agenda. We won 90 Congressional districts in the primary. So we will concentrate first on those districts. You don't have to be

Page 77
loved but the Congressmen from those districts will have to pay attention because we won in the primaries there. Just like Fritz Hollings who was the only senator that endorsed—did you hear his speech when he endorsed Jesse right before the convention. It was really great. It was very true and very pragmatic. He said, "Jesse and I, he's a fellow South Carolinian. I certainly don't agree with him on anything," but he said, I don't know whether he said our constituency or whatever but he made it very clear, "Hey, my constituency voted for Jesse."
PAMELA DEAN:
Politics.
PAT CUSICK:
It wasn't at the previous convention, but it was a very good feeling for me to be in Atlanta. With the size of the contingent, we knew we weren't going to get the nomination, but there was a little bit of power there. We had to be dealt with and that was good, especially since it was in the South, and then being interviewed by the Chapel Hill newspaper too which was too much.
PAMELA DEAN:
[Laughter] That's a nice touch.
PAT CUSICK:
So did any one really remember it, that there was a civil rights movement in Chapel Hill? Probably only a few.
PAMELA DEAN:
I haven't talked to a lot of people about this, and they said, "Oh yeah, there was some of that going on. I didn't really notice too much of it though." I don't think there's a real high consciousness about that. In a lot of ways I think it's seen as a prelude to some of what came next, which was focused more on the campus.

Page 78
PAT CUSICK:
Right. I was in Washington, so it must have been '79 or '80, I had contact with the CAP agency that was in Orange County. Pookie Britton, who was the leader of the high school students, and his picture is in the Free Men being thrown out of the Colonial Drugstore, but he works there at the CAP agency. So that was quite a little reunion too. But Joe was a very important person to talk to.
PAMELA DEAN:
I think so too.
PAT CUSICK:
Lou's in New Jersey. I have his address at home if you want it. I have Lou Calhoun's address, Quinton Baker's, John Donne is dead. He became a lawyer. His wife is head of the education department at Darmouth. He was in town for a while and then he went to, they decided they wanted to raise their kids in Vermont, and she had inherited a real old farmhouse, and they went up there. But yeah, it's as fresh to me as if it was yesterday. Still have strong feelings. I don't know whether it came through, probably did in a few places. I'd glad I was there. Like I said, I wondered if I'd been here or some other place or if I'd been there and the movement hadn't happened, you never know.
PAMELA DEAN:
But you were there. You were in the right place at the right time.
PAT CUSICK:
Oh, they finally decided on my degree, that I could take the course up here. But they specifically said I could not take it at Harvard. I had to take it at MIT, was the only place.
PAMELA DEAN:
What was it?

Page 79
PAT CUSICK:
It was an advanced calculus course. I mean, Harvard is a good school. They're other good schools here too, you know. I never did take it, because I got active in Cambridge and I headed up the agency there, really got involved there. I was head of a similar agency in Cambridge, a CAP agency, in 1970. One of our neighborhood groups, once again on housing and negotiating over the land. Seize the Harvard commencement. There was a lot of payback of that one. So I couldn't see myself getting a B.S. in math because I was in human services and all this stuff. I mistakenly thought, "I don't need a degree." And I say mistakenly, because when I was unemployed in Washington, and then even now, and I could have easily gotten a master's at Harvard, Ed school and stuff, and I've recommended so many people who have gotten it. I could have taught in D.C. I could teach now. I may start teaching next year though because I've been told that probably Tuffs, I could get on as a visiting professor and maybe design my own course, like "Gentrification, the Cutting Edge of Change," or something like that. I need some extra income. I think I have some things to say, so I may push in that direction to just supplement what I have. And I would really love to phase into something like that and writing too. I've never written. That was a mistake too. When I first got out of prison, I was being beseeched by The New Republic and The Nation and all the little magazines of the left and everybody else to write articles. Oh, no, no, no. Pat didn't do it. Obviously, that was a serious mistake, because if I had done that in '65, I would

Page 80
have established… But I was too busy. I was working with kids in Roxbury.
PAMELA DEAN:
Doing real stuff instead of talking about it.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, doing real stuff, right, bang.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, it's never too late. [unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
I write well, professionally, I write well, but not in terms of really writing… But somebody said, "Well, look, why don't you just write "Vignettes from a Southern White" about the movement. I may do that.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, it certainly is a time when people are, you know, they're interested. People want to know what it was like.
PAT CUSICK:
I really recommend Parting the Waters.
PAMELA DEAN:
I went out and bought it after you mentioned it on the phone.
PAT CUSICK:
He really documented his work. I mean, he really did a good job. For someone who was not there, it probably was one of the better jobs that could have been done on it.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, as a historian I'll argue that it sometimes has to be someone who was not there.
PAT CUSICK:
That's right.
PAMELA DEAN:
To have a perspective to get the breadth of perspective.
PAT CUSICK:
Well, that's right. Excuse me, right. And what he did was so great too. He didn't make a myth out of king. He presented King, the man, who had to really struggle at times to get on top of what was happening and his whole human bit, the middle-class conflicts versus his strong desire to be with the

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people and all this type of thing. He really presented that and did a very, very good job of it, I think, as well as the whole Hoover and the wire tapping and the Kennedys and all of that.
PAMELA DEAN:
I'm definitely looking forward to reading that.
PAT CUSICK:
He's coming out with two more. This carries it right up pass the march on Washington. Because I had been so disgusted until Henry Hampton did Eyes on the Prize because what had been done just never captured the…
Did you see the book that North Carolina put out on this?

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[END OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[TAPE 3, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE B]
PAT CUSICK:
And every picture was either happy, singing black folks, I mean, it presented a certain viewpoint. They mailed it to me from the state. I'd been up here about six months and in the forward it actually says, in trying to explain, I guess, "We must remember that the North Carolina Negroes have been here a long time." It was trying to say they were good folks, and "they contain strains of blood from men of more masterful races," in the forward over Terry Sanford's signature! Look in the library.
PAMELA DEAN:
I will.
PAT CUSICK:
It has an orange cover and has all these pictures. Our pictures are in there but they were very selective. But yes, "they contain strains of blood of more masterful races." Terry Sanford. Unbelievable. No, not unbelievable either. And this was like an extremely liberal thing to do. They were so proud of it. I almost threw up. [Laughter] The blindness, I mean, that's the… What is it called? I think it's called North Carolina and the Negro. History of the Civil Rights.
PAMELA DEAN:
[unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
Yes. This isn't political or historical, but it's there. When I got to Sandy Ridge, New York was hosting the World's Fair that summer, '64. We would watch T.V. for two hours at night, and we'd be sitting around watching the television. They've have the vignettes on the news on the World's War. So there was a black man about twenty-eight in the cell block, and we'd talk about the World's Fair, and he started saying, "I would

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love to see that." Then he changed and said, "I'm going to go." And we'd all kid him, "You're not going any place, Jesse." He was doing five to ten for something or other. But he ran one night and we didn't see Jesse for the rest of the summer. Toward the end of the summer the word spread that Jesse had been brought back. They put you in the hole for two days when escape. You get six more months and stuff. But then he came back in. He had run and he went and he saw the World's Fair. But then when he started thinking about it, his family was in North Carolina, so he knew he was going to have to go back. So he went into the— there used to be a police station in the middle of Broadway at Times Square, a little stand—he went in there and told them. There was a black cop there, and he went in and said, "I escaped from the chain gang in North Carolina. I'm giving myself up." And he guy says, "What, are you crazy?" [Laughter] But he insisted on his right to be taken back, and so he stayed in the Tombs in New York for about a month. I guess North Carolina then sent a car up after him and he came back. But the important thing was that we were all back sitting and they'd show stuff from the World's Fair, and he just would smile and say, "I went." And I thought that was the most fantastic thing of the human spirit, you know. "I went." But those types of things made it all—you've got to have a sense of humor. I think people without a sense of humor are dangerous people. But things like that.
PAMELA DEAN:
A sense of the absurd.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes. And that book that came through, Trotsky's Life of Lenin, through the censors. I almost came down. It was, I

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guess, a year ago January.
Joe Straley called me and the Community Church of Chapel Hill was having an observance of Martin Luther King Day. They wanted me to come be the speaker. But that was the time we have our annual Rainbow banquet here and I could not come. But I told him that I was really very interested in taking a rain check on that. That would be interesting. See, that was the bastion of all the folks that I was talking about, the white liberals and stuff.
PAMELA DEAN:
Well, twenty-five years later, it's time to [unclear]
PAT CUSICK:
I haven't really mellowed. Well, I mean, I don't go around holding a grudge, but, I guess, I haven't really changed my mind about that. Although, like I said about Terry Sanford, I can see the—I mean, the people that do so much for what they did. They were on the wrong time table. Amtrack had issued a new time table. How long have you been in Chapel Hill?
PAMELA DEAN:
I've been there about five years.
PAT CUSICK:
You live in town?
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes.
PAT CUSICK:
Is it still as pretty? I guess I was there in, when I was in Washington, I came down to make a speech to the North Carolina Association of Community Action Agencies that were in Raleigh. I was staying with the Straleys. They came and got me and we rode down Franklin Street, and I said, "Well, you know, this is an Unbelievable little place."
PAMELA DEAN:
It is a lovely town.

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PAT CUSICK:
And a good university too. There is no doubt about that. They didn't do what they should have done a couple of times. Has it grown a lot, I imagine it has.
PAMELA DEAN:
Yes, in just the last ten years it's grown immensely, about 30,000 students.
PAT CUSICK:
What's the percentage of black students, do you know? Small.
PAMELA DEAN:
Small. [Laughter] Still very small. Women now are the majority of undergraduates, 60% of the undergraduates. That's a big change.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, it is. Do they still have the fraternity, sorority caste system?
PAMELA DEAN:
It's certainly coming back in the last few years.
PAT CUSICK:
I wonder, black students may be better off not going there. Have you read the statistics on job placement for black graduates of the small black colleges versus black graduates of major universities?
PAMELA DEAN:
They do better coming out of the black schools.
PAT CUSICK:
Yes, they do better immediately. They get better jobs and their income's better. The placement rate is higher. And I've often thought of that, and I think I understand it. There's a sense of identity there. The smaller schools, there's a sense of identity. They're not like swamped. I've known a lot of black students at Harvard and stuff, and they're continually having to fight that whole thing and their own identity and all of this. That's not present at the black schools, and they really stress the identity bit.

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PAMELA DEAN:
My dissertation was on womens' colleges and college culture for women, 1880 to 1930 is the time period. But the more I studied that, the more I question the value of integration for women.
PAT CUSICK:
Right, well, there have been a lot of fights up here, too, on that. What was it? It used to be WC at Greensboro, Women's College.
END OF INTERVIEW