Documenting the American South Logo
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Black students protest loss of school tradition

Jeter tries to describe the changes wrought by the riot at Chapel Hill High School (CHHS): the administration changed the school colors to gold and black, Lincoln's colors, and while she says she did not think CHHS adopted the Lincoln High mascot, she recalls that Lincoln's mascot was the tiger, which did in fact become CHHS's mascot. Also, students at CHHS enjoyed week of cultural activities that included contact with African American college students. This excerpt demonstrates the effectiveness of violent protest in a largely placid environment.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. 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

BG: What did your mom and dad do? GRJ: My mother was a maid, and she worked – which is typical of black people in Chapel Hill at that time. You either worked for the University, or you worked for the white people that worked for the University. She worked for a doctor – well, maybe he was a Ph.D. doctor. Mr. [Spearna?]. For years when I was a child. And then she worked for a law professor for a while, for a long time. So she worked FOR white people. Frequently, I remember this, she gave her clothes. The clothes that they had outgrown or didn’t want anymore, and we wore those clothes to school. If you look in the yearbook, one year I took a picture in, no, one year my sister took a picture in a blue and – no, red and blue jumper that the white people had given us. The next year, I took my picture in the same jumper. So we – and my father was a plasterer. He worked frequently out of town, because there wasn’t a whole lot of construction work always here in town. He worked in Durham a lot, he worked in Washington for many years and he’d come home on the weekends. BG: Washington D.C. or – GRJ: Uh huh, Washington D.C. – I remember, you know, there were a couple of things that I remember that came out, came about as a result of the riot. They did change the school colors, because if I remember correctly the school colors at Lincoln were gold and black. The school colors at Chapel Hill, at the old Chapel Hill high school were orange and black, so they did make them gold and black. They may even have changed the, no, they didn’t change the mascot. ‘Cause I think Lincoln’s mascot was the tiger. But at least that one thing changed, the other thing that changed is that we had what we called in high school, “the late bus,” so that if you had something to do after school, you could catch the late bus and get home. So the late bus actually brought you to your door as opposed to bringing you to the bus stop. And there weren’t a whole lot of people who – everybody could catch the late bus, but everybody didn’t stay after school for stuff. The other thing, we had a week of cultural activities. And I’m trying to think what they called it. But it was like a week where, it was almost the students who did the organization. We would have different classes of cultural things. We had – some university students who were members of some sort of black organization come and talk – and you could plan your schedule, they’d print up the little bulletin and you could pick out the different cultural things that you wanted to do. And I thought that was just great, because you got exposed to – lots of things that were just of interest, not necessarily, I mean it may not have been terribly educational, it wasn’t science and math, but, if you wanted to find out about a different religion, those religions, you could say, “well I want to find out about, the Hari Krishnas. They would have them come and give a little talk, and you know they talked like maybe Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at ten o’clock or two o’clock or something like that. So you could pick out the different things that you wanted to do. And I thought that was great. I don’t know if they still do that, but that was the one thing, that I thought benefited everybody. I think the riot probably benefited everybody too.