Title: Oral History Interview with Steve Cherry, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0430.
Interviewer: Jones, Mark
Interviewee: Cherry, Steve
Abstract: Steve Cherry spent twenty-nine years in the Lincoln County, North Carolina, school system, eventually becoming principal of East Lincoln High School, where he remained from 1982 to 1996. Cherry also coached basketball for many years, and describes school desegregation from both a coach's and a principal's perspective. As a coach, he witnessed the abuse of black players by white players on the basketball court; he weathered threats from white fans angry that black athletes were competing; but he also saw the integrating effect of organized sports. As a principal, he endured brawls between white and black students, and juggled the new demands that the white and black communities placed on him. This interview provides an in-depth look at how desegregation played out on the basketball court as well as in the school halls, and shows the important role athletics played in expressing, and muting, racial tensions.