Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Nate Davis, February 6, 2001. Interview K-0538. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Harassment drives student to skip school

In this excerpt, Davis remembers his membership in the second integrated class that attended Chapel Hill Junior High School. Black students could choose to attend that school or go to the all-black Lincoln High School, and it sounds like some black parents sent their children to the integrated school so they could be part of a movement they supported. Davis did not want to go—he cried in class because of regular harassment—and by the time he reached Guy B. Phillips Junior High the following year, he was playing hooky on a regular basis.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Nate Davis, February 6, 2001. Interview K-0538. 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: But, you left Northside in sixth grade, and in 19, did you say 62? ND: Yeah. RG: In 1962 you went to-- ND: Chapel Hill Junior High School up on Franklin Street. RG: Uh-huh, which was integrated the year before by, it was choice that the African American student could make to go there or go to Lincoln. ND: It was a choice, I think it was a choice that certain people in the community and your parents made. RG: So did you not want to go to the Chapel Hill Junior High School? ND: Well in a way I did, because I got bribed by my grandparents (laughter). You know, back then some people thought this was a wonderful thing, and they, you know, some parents really felt proud that their child or grandchild was going to be a part of this. RG: Did the minister have any bearing on it? ND: I don’t recall, I do recall Miss Gloria Williams who was a big part of this community, that passed away about a year ago, I think she was a part of it. RG: So you were the second class to enter Chapel Hill Junior High School that had some African American students? ND: Yeah, I think before that some had gone to the elementary school. I don’t know when Stanley Vickers went, it may have been three years before then, but maybe Stanley Vickers and a few other ones. RG: And how many black students were there? ND: Um, myself, Keith Edwards, David Briggs, Pernell Jackson, James Britt, I do remember those five. There may have been some that didn’t hang with us, but I do remember those five, let’s see, Carrie, Keith, James, Pernell, David Briggs, myself. RG: Did you have any orientation before you went to-- ND: Not that I recall. RG: So you just sort of showed up there in the fall or late summer and went to school? ND: Yes. RG: Do you remember it, your first day there? ND: I don’t. For some reason I don’t. I know I used to sit in class and cry a lot. RG: You would cry in class. ND: Yeah. Cause I was afraid of what was going to happen once I walked out of the classroom. RG: What sort of things did happen? ND: You were called names, some people wanted to fight, you know. RG: The names that you were called, was that a regular daily thing? ND: For a while, yeah. RG: How long did that last? ND: It, well you know, most of that year. It lasted most of that year, um, seventh grade year, and then the following year they be at Guy B. Phillips, and a lot of it continued. As a matter of fact it was to the point where it was so bad my first year at Guy B. Phillips, no one was aware of it and no one probably cared, you know with the school system, I played hooky for about, not every day, but for about two or three months I stayed out of school. And you know, I just didn’t go. And no one missed me and no one cared, you know. But then more people started coming to the junior high school and it got a little bit better, we had more teachers that cared about us, and kind of looked after us and, you know.