Black student enters white-majority school
In this excerpt, Hackney remembers something of a culture clash upon his arrival at Chapel Hill High School from the all-black Lincoln High. He did not befriend any white students—it was enough of a challenge to make it through the school year. Enduring the trials of integration nurtured mutual respect, but not friendship. Hackney returned to an all-black environment after graduation when he enrolled in a black college, though he does not say he was driven there by his discomfort with an integrated environment.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Burnis Hackney, February 5, 2001. Interview K-0547. 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
BG: Were there differences in how you saw the teachers from Lincoln to Chapel Hill High?
BH: Well, obviously you couldn’t have a more different transition, you going from an all black situation basically to an all white situation, which is a little ironic in that when I went to college I went back to an predominately black college. That’s life, you go through different situations and you have to be prepared to experience different environments, but certainly in a sense you didn’t identify with whites and you had very little--. My contacts with whites to that point had been very limited. It was a big difference with the students as well as the teachers; you just didn’t identify overnight with another race group. After going to a black college, I then had the opportunity to return back to UNC at Chapel Hill so I had to make the transition again. That’s just the way life is, you have to go through different situations and you have to deal with different people.
BG: Did you develop friendships with whites when you were at the high school?
BH: Not real strong close friendships. Some of the guys I see today, it’s more like a thing of respect that we went through something together. Maybe we detected a certain spirit within each other at the time that we can identify with a few of the guys, Mike Earey, Rodney McFarland, but not really a lot of close friendships I would say. A year’s time under those circumstances I think is asking a bit much. We had been prepared that there would be a lot expected of us. That was a tremendous challenge that we were given. I feel that the juniors and the sophomores and the freshmen had more time to really adjust. We only had one year to do what we had to do, and we could only do so much adjusting, and we could only make so much in roles socially, and I don’t think we made very many.