Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kojo Nantambu, May 15, 1978. Interview B-0059. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Sunday, February 7, 1971: situation escalates as whites breach the barricade

On Sunday, February 7, the situation heated up still more as cars full of whites began breaking through the barricades so that shooters could enter the black neighborhood. On Monday the National Guard took control, and when they searched Gregory Congregation Church, they claimed to find dynamite, an assertion Nantambu disputes.

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

The next morning it started off with a bang. [Laughter]. People started coming through the church with out-of-town tags on. A blue Camaro broke through the barricade.
LARRY THOMAS:
Broke through the barricade?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Full speed ahead. It knocked the barricade out of the way, pushed it out of the way, and came right on through. It was a blue Camaro that had a Jacksonville license plate on the front of it. Jacksonville's in North Carolina, but you know the white folks. They evidently got some white Marines to try to do something, but they didn't make it too far. just blew the back of their car out. We were determined then that we weren't playing no more, man. Then this cat named Harvey Cumber came through there in a red truck and just pulled round the corner and parked his car and was politely getting out with a .45, some kind of ...
LARRY THOMAS:
Sixth Street?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
Yeah. He decided he was going to shoot at the brothers.
LARRY THOMAS:
He parked it round on Sixth Street?
KOJO NANTAMBU:
No, he parked it round on Nun Street, right at the corner of Sixth and Nun. When he was getting out of the car with his gun, before he could get a round off, somebody shot him--one of the brothers shot him. After that, this is when they decided to call the curfew. Now they didn't call the curfew after Steve got killed, but they called the curfew that day. And the curfew was set for three o'clock. After that time, things kind of cooled down for a few days in terms of actual activities, direct confrontations and stuff like that--until Monday. But the next day the National Guard invaded the church. They didn't find nobody in there because after that night decided to call for the National Guard. They were going to clean out the niggers. They say they went in there and found dynamite under the church, but I know better than that. They didn't find dynamite under the church. And then the dynamite they say they found was already crystallized. Anybody in their right mind in high school that ever had chemistry knows that crystallized dynamite was too dangerous ...