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Oral History Interview with Floyd B. McKissick Sr., May 31, 1989. Interview L-0040. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Floyd McKissick was born into a prominent black family in North Carolina. The racism he witnessed and experienced during his formative years and early adulthood—including during his tenure in the Army—had a profound impact in shaping his racial consciousness. After World War II, McKissick enrolled at predominantly black North Carolina College (later known as North Carolina Central University), where he discovered that the resources and facilities were inequitable, leading him to picket the North Carolina legislature to improve conditions there. He discusses how and why he decided to integrate the law school at the University of North Carolina, and he describes his three-year legal battle to enroll there. Once enrolled, he faced more battles, including his struggle to eat at the campus dining facility, and his successful effort to integrate the UNC pool. He received support from two whites, Reverend Charles Jones, pastor of the pro-integration Community Church of Chapel Hill, and Anne Queen, leader of the Campus Y. He also forged a friendship with Daniel Pollitt, a law professor and faculty advisor of the student NAACP. McKissick notes that though white students were afraid of being labeled "nigger lover," they began to accept integration relatively quickly. After completion of law school, McKissick advocated for civil rights and took part in Chapel Hill civil rights demonstrations in the early 1960s. He later worked as the director of the Congress of Racial Equality. McKissick argues that UNC could be doing more to integrate the university. Desegregation's success, he argues, requires the desegregation of faculty and staff, not just of the student body.
  • Post-WWII period enhanced black activism against racial inequalities
  • NAACP tactics for desegregating post-secondary schools
  • Difficulties of becoming the first black student at UNC
  • UNC's reluctance to desegregate
  • The early process of desegregation
  • McKissick's effective tactics to bring about racial change
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  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.