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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with James Atwater, February 28, 2001. Interview K-0201. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Atwater sees fewer overt signs of racial prejudice in Chapel Hill

Atwater sees a change in racial attitudes around Chapel Hill since the 1950s, but he is not sure how much that change depends on the attitudes of long-term residents or the attitudes of newer residents. He sees more respect for African Americans now.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with James Atwater, February 28, 2001. Interview K-0201. 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

JENNIFER NARDONE:
Well, I guess this will be my last question. What do you think when you go back to Chapel Hill now? Do you see it as a different place than where you grew up? Or do you still sort of see that imprint of a former way of life, of segregation, on the town, on the community as you go through it? Do you know-am I being clear? Sometimes I'm very obtuse!
JAMES ATWATER:
No, I think that the changes that have occurred in Chapel Hill that I see, are primarily the physical changes, in terms of the size of the city, the number of people who are there, and things that have been built, and so on. And, I think that for the most part, the attitudes that I see in people, I think have changed also, but I'm not sure to what I need to attribute that change, because is it a change that I knew, that I grew up with in Chapel Hill or is it a change in the people who have come to Chapel Hill since then? Because I know there's been a lot of influx. But, I think many of the people in Chapel Hill, who have been there since I was there, probably have changed to a certain degree. I don't know if it's a complete change or not. But, I think they at least, make the effort to give the impression that they have changed. Because once upon a time, you walk into a time, you walk into a store, a business, anyplace, "what do you want, boy?" And nobody does that now, and it's almost always "sir", "yes sir," "may I help you sir?"
JENNIFER NARDONE:
So you do feel the change?
JAMES ATWATER:
Yes, yes. I definitely feel a change. I don't there's any doubt that there's been a change.
JENNIFER NARDONE:
To what extent.
JAMES ATWATER:
To what can you attribute that change? Is it the new people who brought that in, or is it the people who were there? I think there's been some degree of change, I don't think there's any doubt about that.