Title: Oral History Interview with Thurman Couch, February 12, 2001. Interview K-0537.
Interviewer: Gilgor, Bob
Interviewee: Couch, Thurman
Subjects: School integration--North Carolina--Chapel Hill African Americans--North Carolina--Chapel Hill Lincoln High School (Chapel Hill, N.C.) Civil rights demonstrations--North Carolina--Chapel Hill Couch, Thurman
Abstract: Thurman Couch, a student at Lincoln High School, and among the first African American students to enter Chapel Hill High School, describes his experiences in segregated and desegregated schools. To Couch, the story of integration is a story of the decline of black tradition and the erosion of ties between schools and communities. A standout athlete, Couch complains that the sports programs and the marching band, programs which gave Lincoln High its identity and served as essential conduits between black schools and black neighborhoods, lost some of their character under integration. Couch speaks passionately about the traditions of the pre-integration black community and places all-black schools at the center; he speaks equally passionately about the damage to the black community brought about by integration, in particular the loss of African American economic independence. This interview radiates with pride and frustration, spirituality and indignation.