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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Few barriers for a black student at UNC-Chapel Hill's medical school

UNC-Chapel Hill's medical school desegregated without a court order, Slade remembers. He found few barriers there.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. 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

During the time your were in medical school, and I've asked other people I've talked to who went to UNC this same question, did you ever have a sense that some of the outside events like the 1954 Brown vs. Board decision, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott, those very publicized civil rights activitiesߞdid you ever think that those things were going to impact medicine?
It was the end of my freshman year when Brown vs. Board went through. You knew it was happening, but you wondered if it was ever going to reach down to a place like Edenton. Of course, eventually it did. That's one of the nice things about Chapel Hill. We went in, and the law students were in under court order. But the medical school, there was no court order, not even for the first one, they just did it on their own. Since the law students had gone in under court order, the medical staff was wise that they should go ahead and not have to go through all that. The medical school didn't want a lot of publicity from having to be forced to take students in. Diggs went in with no problem, and when I went through, there was no write-up or publicity. I never went to the newspaper to tell them I'd been accepted, I just told my family and the people at the college who had sent my references in. We didn't make it a big event. One of the nice things, I used to work for a family in Greensboro. The man I worked for was well to do. He had gone to the University of North Carolina. He told me once, by the time you get to go to medical school, the University will be taking blacks. He was willing for me to go to the same school he went to. He made provision for me to borrow some money to go for the first year. Britt Armfield. He helped me get a loan for about 900 dollars. That was a big help to get started. I didn't have to pay him back until I got out, and I paid him back when I went into the army. Just before I got ready to go to medical school, he developed cancer. He had asked me to come by and help with his illness. You don't see it too much now, but they actually did the embalming right there in the home. So I helped with that, and helped the family until it was time for me to go to medical school. That atmosphere sent me off to a good start. The people at Chapel Hill, the Dean was nice. There weren't too many barriers, except book money, you had to try to get that.