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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Friday, February 5, 1971: fear of white violence spreads through black community

On Friday, February 5, 1971, Marvin "Chili" Patrick was shot by roaming whites. Though he needed to go to the hospital, the students at Gregory Congregation Church instead established a makeshift trauma center at the church because some blacks who had tried to seek hospital attention the day before had been almost arrested. They were helped by Donna Templeton, who was a nurse. As news of Chili's injuries spread, more people gathered at the church, forcing the students to take control and delegate tasks.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. 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

LARRY THOMAS:
Let's go back to Friday.
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Oh, yeah, sure. Chili got shot in the chest. We had to fix him up, and we didn't have any medical supplies. This was about seven o'clock Friday night, February the fifth, 1971. We had to search around to find some stuff to fix the brother up, so we had to go across the street to this brother's house named Mr. Cannady. We got some alcohol from him and Brother Templeton's wife happened to have some gauze and a bandage and some hydrogen peroxide. We cleaned the brother's wound and fixed him up because we didn't want to send him out to the hospital because some brothers say they already gone to the hospital the night before and the crackers tried to arrest them for getting shot. So we didn't want to take a chance on sending anybody out there because the first thing they was going to do was evidently had to be doing something wrong, so they either tried to arrest them or tried to get them to squeal on somebody or something like that.
LARRY THOMAS:
Somebody got injured because of Caucasians going through there prior to ...
KOJO NANTAMBU:
... prior to when my man came out there? Oh, yeah. You know I told you that Thursday night some people had got shot already. A few people got shot: a brother and a sister got shot walking on Castle Street, some people got shot walking down Dock Street. There were a lot of isolated incidents. The white folks was just riding through the black neighborhood and they found a lone nigger or one or two lone niggers, and just fired on them. It wasn't that many. We found out about them--they never came to us because I guess they were too scared. There were just as many incidents at the church. We tried to handle our own casualties. We set it up like a military base almost, like a bivouac or something, headquarters or something ...
LARRY THOMAS:
At the church?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
We had a perimeter, we had men watching with binoculars to make sure that we knew when anybody was coming. We had a code word, a signal, a password, so if somebody was coming, he'd use the right word--we'd know if it was a brother, that kind of thing.
LARRY THOMAS:
Would you consider these survival techniques, or what?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Survival techniques, definitely. Because at that particular time we were definitely on the defensive. We were just defending the church and defending the rights of the students to be in the church. There wasn't nothing about us going out attacking anybody. We were just making sure that nobody was going to attack us or the people in that neighborhood. When Chili got shot, kinda knocked the doors of the church down getting in because everybody tried to get out of the way. All the girls in the church were hollering and screaming, and the brothers were running around. We calmed everybody down and tried to get some order. We told everybody to lay up under the bleachers, to stay down. We made sure the brothers got out a little bit further on the perimeter. We sent them out about two blocks apiece to make sure the white folks didn't come through there.