Few barriers for a black student at UNC-Chapel Hill's medical school
UNC-Chapel Hill's medical school desegregated without a court order, Slade remembers. He found few barriers there.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with James Slade, February 23, 1997. Interview R-0019. 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
- KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
During the time your were in medical school, and I've asked
other people I've talked to who went to UNC this same
question, did you ever have a sense that some of the outside events like
the 1954 Brown vs. Board decision, or the Montgomery Bus Boycott, those
very publicized civil rights activitiesߞdid you ever think
that those things were going to impact medicine?
- JAMES SLADE:
It was the end of my freshman year when Brown vs. Board went through.
You knew it was happening, but you wondered if it was ever going to
reach down to a place like Edenton. Of course, eventually it did.
That's one of the nice things about Chapel Hill. We went in,
and the law students were in under court order. But the medical school,
there was no court order, not even for the first one, they just did it
on their own. Since the law students had gone in under court order, the
medical staff was wise that they should go ahead and not have to go
through all that. The medical school didn't want a lot of
publicity from having to be forced to take students in. Diggs went in
with no problem, and when I went through, there was no write-up or
publicity. I never went to the newspaper to tell them I'd
been accepted, I just told my family and the people at the college who
had sent my references in. We didn't make it a big event.
One of the nice things, I used to work for a family in Greensboro. The
man I worked for was well to do. He had gone to the University of North
Carolina. He told me once, by the time you get to go to medical school,
the University will be taking blacks. He was willing for me to go to the
same school he went to. He made provision for me to borrow some money to
go for the first year. Britt Armfield. He helped me get a loan for about
900 dollars. That was a big help to get started. I didn't
have to pay him back until I got out, and I paid him back when I went
into the army. Just before I got ready to go to medical school, he
developed cancer. He had asked me to come by and help with his illness.
You don't see it too much now, but they actually did the
embalming right there in the home. So I helped with that, and helped the
family until it was time for me to go to medical school. That atmosphere
sent me off to a good start. The people at Chapel Hill, the Dean was
nice. There weren't too many barriers, except book money, you
had to try to get that.