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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 >>

Cusick exposes Chapel Hill's racial progress and limitations

Cusick argues that Chapel Hill's public celebration of Martin Luther King's birthday illuminates the town's hypocritical but quintessential liberal posture. He questions the progress of civil rights efforts for local blacks.

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

PAT CUSICK:
...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.
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.