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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0048. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Media coverage of a violent attack against integrationists forced reevaluation of segregation

Pollitt discusses two incidents of fierce support of segregated public facilities. The depiction in the press of an elderly priest's arrest began to make Chapel Hill residents question Jim Crow accommodations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Daniel H. Pollitt, November 19, 1990. Interview L-0048. 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

...But the way that it happened was that there was a speaker invited down to the Y, by the Y, from the "Village Voice". That's Anne Queen reaching out for new experiences and new voices. So she invited somebody from the Village Voice and David Dansby was a law student who was the first black, I think, to graduate from the undergraduate school and the law school, and a professional school. And it was still very rare. I think we had maybe three or four blacks in the entire law school and he was one of them. But David Dansby was the host with somebody else. They had called what was then "The Pines" restaurant, and said, "We're going to come for dinner afterwards," and the guy said, "Fine. Table for five," or something like that. They showed up with a guest, the "The Village Voice" speaker, and two or three other whites and David Dansby. So, they said, "We cannot serve you." And they said, "I called you and made arrangements." "Well, we can't serve you." And so, they wouldn't leave and they were arrested. That was the first arrest. And it was dumb to arrest somebody from the "Village Voice" because he probably went back to New York and wrote it all up. "What kind of a town is this?" You know. But then, two nights later, there's another group that decides to go down to "The Pines" and seek service and integrate it. And one was Father Parker. Father Parker was a retired Episcopalian priest who was well into his eighties. He wore the clerical collar and the black vest and he had snow white hair and he looked like a saint. He was tall and sort of gaunt. He went with the next group, the second group, to "The Pines" and there were maybe four or five and I forget who the others were. But they told them to leave, and they wouldn't leave and they called the cops and told them they were trespassing. At that time, the policy was to go limp, just go limp, and then the police would carry you out and put you in the car and you would be charged with resisting arrest for going limp and for trespassing. The bail was $150 for each and so there was a problem of raising bail money. We didn't like people to get arrested unless they had the bail money with them. But Father Parker went limp and somehow he lost his hat in the melee, so the front page story had a picture of Father Parker being carried out. Then the caption was "Father Parker Loses Hat," or something. Well, about fifty people sent him hats.
Was this on the "Chapel Hill Weekly"?
Yes. So that got a lot of publicity going. And if Father Parker is going to lay his body on the line, you know, at his age, why shouldn't the rest of us? So, that started the tumultuous period. There were letters to the newspaper every day pro and con. There was a big debate going on everywhere. Every night there'd be a sit-in somewhere. And this time, it was done by the college students, all of whom had been active in the Y.