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Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Quinton E. Baker reflects on how his identity as a black gay man influenced his social activism, especially his role in the 1960s civil rights protests. He begins by describing his childhood in the segregated South, noting that he had little contact with whites while growing up. He knew at a young age that he was different from most other boys, as did his father, who tried to make him adopt a more traditional masculine identity. After graduating from high school, Baker enrolled at North Carolina Central University, where he became active in civil rights protests. He also taught nonviolent protest in Chapel Hill, where he befriended Pat Cusick and John Dunne, two student activists. A short time later, Baker began a sexual relationship with Dunne. Baker hoped to find acceptance within the white gay community, but he says that race affected those relationships, as well. Baker was arrested multiple times during the Chapel Hill protests, and the judge, who was frustrated by how little prison time he could give the students, used court time to further punish the activists. Baker and Dunne ended their relationship before going to prison. The few months Baker spent in prison changed his life's trajectory. He eventually graduated from the University of Wisconsin. After living in Boston for a while, Baker decided to return to North Carolina, where he became involved in community affairs again. At the time of the interview, he continued to fight for social justice in the arena of health care.
  • Understanding his sexuality while growing up
  • African American community protects its children from racism
  • Father's attempts to change Baker
  • African American community's treatment of homosexuals prior to desegregation
  • Becoming involved in civil rights protests
  • Training protesters in Chapel Hill
  • Protestors respond negatively to Baker's homosexuality
  • Divisions among those fighting for equality
  • Reasons for not supporting hate crimes legislation
  • Atmosphere in Chapel Hill during desegregation
  • Fundamentalist Christianity creates greater racial equality within congregations
  • Baker does not feel that he fits the homosexual stereotype
  • How Baker and Dunne handled their relationship in public
  • The protestors' experience with the Orange County court system
  • How the protestors were sentenced
  • Baker's prison experience
  • Description of Judge Mallard
  • Learning to never expect white support
  • Baker is paroled and transfers to the University of Wisconsin
  • Gay communities in the North and reasons for return to the South
  • Current social justice interests
  • Martin Luther King Jr.'s response to homosexuality
  • John Dunne's character
  • Refuting Sears's work
  • How Baker wants to be remembered
  • Learn More
  • 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.