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Jacquelyn Hall's History 170: Desegregation & The Inner Life of Chapel Hill Schools

Desegregation & The Inner Life of Chapel Hill Schools This spring the SOHP introduced twenty undergraduate and graduate students to the pleasures and difficulties of analyzing and creating oral history. Under SOHP Director, Jacquelyn Hall's guidance, the students of history 170, "Desegregation & The Inner Life of Schools," used interviews, in combination with other sources, to explore public school desegregation in North Carolina. Working with and building on "Listening for a Change" interviews on race relations and desegregation in West Charlotte High School and Ashville's Stephens-Lee High School, Jacquelyn Hall's students looked closely at Chapel Hill's own troubled effort to dismantle a system of racial segregation in its public schools; the fraught process of creating new, integrated institutions; and the ways in which memory of those experiences shapes the inner life of schools to this day. The students' research centered on the history of Lincoln High School, Chapel Hill's historically black secondary institution, which was closed upon the implementation of the desegregation plan. Interviewees included former teachers, students, and administrators of Lincoln High and Chapel Hill High, which was integrated in 1962. Students researched, conducted, indexed, and transcribed these interviews, which have been deposited in the Southern Historical Collection at Wilson Library, where they are available to the public.

History 170 converged with a number of other university and community-based projects, offering important examples of the SOHP's ongoing effort to reach out both within and beyond the academy: Throughout the semester, students worked closely with community experts such as Civil Rights activist and Chapel Hill native, Edwin Caldwell, Jr., and local documentarian, Bob Gilgor, who was creating an exhibit commemorating the history of Lincon High School (Gilgor's exhibit, "OCTS-Lincoln High School: Mighty Tigers," is open to the public at the Chapel Hill Museum through October 14, 2001). The students also exchanged ideas with Della Pollock's Communication Studies 161 class, a performance and oral history course that was also investigating race relations and desegregation. At the end of the term History 170 and Communication Studies 161 students shared multi-media presentations and interpretive performances of their research in a public event marked by lively group discussion. Finally, the students' interviews will inform an upcoming study of the education of African American children in the South, conducted by UNC professors Jim Leloudis and George Noblit.

The Southern Oral History Program
(a component of the UNC Center for the Study of the American South)
CB#9127, 406 Hamilton Hall
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-9127
(919) 962-0455