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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Semi-segregation at UNC-Chapel Hill's dining hall

Slade remembers limited segregation at UNC-Chapel Hill's dining hall: cafeteria staff served him, but told him to sit in the corner. In a small act of protest, he sat down midway. Slade posed a problem to employees who had been serving a light-skinned African American who was perhaps passing as white.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. 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

One thing I didn't tell about at Chapel Hill, it was a minor point but interesting, in the dining room at the University, there was no discrimination, if you had your money! But at the hospital cafeteria, Diggs who was ahead of me had said that it was OK to eat in there. So I went in, and I could tell the girls who were serving weren't sure whether to serve me or not. I didn't want them to get in trouble, so I left and checked it out. I went in the second time, and they fixed my plate. When I got to the cashier, they said I would have to sit over in the corner. I started toward the corner, but I sat down midway.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Just made the corner a little bigger!
JAMES SLADE:
Yeah! What made it so nice, was that my classmates came over and sat down with me, one of the two girls in the class and some of the fellas. That ended that, after the cashier looked over.
CATHERINE SLADE:
He had said to me that Diggs was a fair-skinned black, so they weren't used to having anyone as black as he was. [Laughter]
JAMES SLADE:
My dad told me, "One thing about you, when you get there, there won't be no doubt about you!" [Laughter] One day in the cafeteria at the TB clinic where we used to eat, these guys said, "If he's going to eat in there, I'm not going to eat in there." And I said, "Well, they won't eat in here todayߞI'm going to eat in here!" When you're young, you're a little braver.
CATHERINE SLADE:
I think another thing that has helped him is that they didn't feel threatened as far as the girls were concerned, because he was not one who was making eyes at the girls. He was more concerned with his work. [Laughter]
JAMES SLADE:
No time for that!