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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Student efforts to desegregate public accommodations in Chapel Hill

Cusick describes the naiveté of forming a committee to desegregate Chapel Hill public restaurants. He opposed picketing as radical; however, the flurry of events to crush segregated accommodations swept him and others up. Cusick argues that despite the public opposition, student groups' energies were not dulled.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989. Interview L-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

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.
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 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.