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Oral History Interview with Steve Cherry, February 19, 1999. Interview K-0430. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • 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.
  • Limited, but civil, interracial contact in a segregated community
  • An early white vs. black basketball game provides a unique interracial experience
  • Athletics plays a key role in desegregation
  • Tensions mount well after desegregation
  • Parents participate in desegregation-related violence
  • Athletes stay out of desegregation violence
  • Principal tries to balance demands of racially separated community
  • Struggling to encourage black parents' involvement in their children's education
  • Violence on the court during an integrated basketball game
  • White sports fans resist integration of their beloved teams
  • Maintaining desegregation puts pressure on principals
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.