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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Kathryn Cheek, March 27, 2003. Interview K-0203. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racial barriers persist

Cheek recalls a barrier between black and white students despite the interracial friendships that emerged after desegregation. She does think that Chapel Hill was ahead of its time, however, in its citizens' attitudes on race.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Kathryn Cheek, March 27, 2003. Interview K-0203. 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

Thinking back I guess to high school, the different activities and stuff, were they well integrated.
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Seems I remember they were. I don't remember a lack of integration. Dances and all that kind of stuff I remember being mixed. And, again, you didn't think about it, that's just the way it was. It wasn't "Oh this is a mixed event." That's just the way it was.
SUSAN UPTON:
What about like, interaction I guess between the students?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Well, I had what I considered to be friends that were black, as well as white. Now, they weren't close friends like some of the white kids were. I mean, they didn't come to my house and I didn't go to their house. But at school we were friends, and you know, activities after school we'd talked and that sort of stuff. Different though, I mean there was definitely a barrier, unacknowledged, unspoken, or whatever, but there was definitely a barrier.
SUSAN UPTON:
The other thing that's kinda come up in some of the other stuff I have is Chapel Hill having such high class differences. Do you remember-
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Ohh yes. [Laughter]
SUSAN UPTON:
What do you remember about that?
KATHRYN CHEEK:
Well, there was an in-crowd and a not in-crowd and most of the in-crowd were professors's kids. I think probably for segregation, or desegregation, Chapel hill was the exception to any rule in the South. I can't-I mean I know we had some of the same things, but we were probably very very very very different than I mean if you went to Pittsboro and asked some of the same questions I bet you'd get very different answers from people the same age as me. Or Burlington or wherever. I think we were probably very different, very ahead of the time, because of Chapel Hill being a melting pot and a non-typical typical Southern town. But, yes I do remember a significant class difference. You knew who the rich kids were and who they weren't.