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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ethos of Lincoln High School

In this excerpt, Battle describes some of his experiences growing up in a segregated community. This excerpt focuses on relationships. Relations between poor whites and blacks were complex, ranging from friendship to hostility. Relationships between teachers and black schools and their students’ parents were close. Relationships between black administrators, such as students’ with the larger-than-life C.A. McDougle, were grounded in respect for a prodigious authority.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. 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

RG: I’d like to start this morning with a question that’s very broad, and that is, tell me about your growing up in Chapel Hill, what it was like, when you were born and where you grew up, and your family and the schools. FB: Bob, I was born in Chapel Hill, I was born on Hillsborough Street, which most blacks referred as Windy Hill. And Windy Hill was, well, to enter Windy Hill, you had to go through the white community. And to exit Windy Hill you had to go through the white community. And it was just a segment of black homeowners that lived on Windy Hill. Chapel Hill is somewhat unique because what it did, it manifest people of the same economics being together. And we had a lot of interactions with the people that lived in the neighborhood, which would be classified in today’s terms as poor white people. And they were friends, we looked after one another, they were pretty supportive in their role, and some of these friendships is lasting friendship. But, it’s carried on. And then again, you had some extremists, where it wasn’t nothin’ to get up and see a KKK written in the middle of the road, sayin’ “Get the hell out, niggers.” That was a pretty common practice in that time. But that’s somewhat the environmental condition that you lived under. Schooling, I went to Northside, that was the elementary school. And I guess my first two years we had so many students that they had to send us to school in shifts. You had one group would go for a half day in the morning, and another group would go for a half day in the afternoon. We didn’t have the benefit of having the full day of the education. But we had dedicated teachers. And they would make sure there was a learning process in place. And they had high expectations for our students. So that was quite helpful. And then there was a relationship between the teachers and the parents. The teachers would go and make home visits to the students, and visit with the parents, and let the parents know what the expectation for that school year would be for the students. After elementary, going to Lincoln, and Lincoln was somewhat, about two and a half miles from where I lived,, and we walked. RG: No school bus. FB: No school bus. We walked to Lincoln every morning, and we walked back in the afternoons. And in the process, we would always have to pass by Chapel Hill High School, which was located on Franklin Street, and then there was the elementary school there too, in order to get to Lincoln, which was located on Merritt Mill Road. And it would always phase in our mind, wouldn’t this be a lot better, if we could attend this school, rather than have to walk down to Lincoln. But Lincoln High School, under the guidance and direction of Mr. MacDougal, at the time, who was the principal, but he’s also, he was a surrogate father figure. Not only was he concerned about you at school, he was concerned about you and your well-being after school. And he would follow it up. And it was a great relationship that you had. He was a disciplinarian, which he didn’t allow people hangin’ out in the hall. You didn’t have a hang-out in the hall, without an excuse. And he would enforce these policies. And then he would make sure that he was supportive of the teachers, and making sure that the assignments, and that he had a working educational environment that was conducive for all students to learn. Even though we might not have had the best materials and I guess we were getting some of our books which was passed down from the white Chapel Hill High School to Lincoln. We were getting secondary books.