Oral History

Dorcas Saunders - On moving to Chapel Hill, segregation, family, and her childhood

Interviewed by Graham Watkins and Carolina Campbell on October 12, 2018

"I watched her. I watched her wash linen and dry it, make up the beds and everything. And I mean that stuck in my mind because I did not know she did that kind of work. I just knew she put on a uniform and she left. But I never knew what the uniform was for or what it meant or anything.

- Dorcas Saunders

While born in Durham, Ms. Saunders speaks about her early childhood in Connecticut where her family moved after her father found a job. Integration had already occurred in the North so when her family moved back to the South during her elementary school years, she was not used to segregation. Ms. Saunders fondly recalls her family, especially her grandfather who helped build Barbee Chapel Church and gave her a foundation in her faith. She talks about her youth where she experienced the typical rebellious phase, which included being a hippie and getting in a fight. She discusses that when she got older, she realized that she was not good at cooking soul food because her grandmother had cooked for two UNC professors and made food such as finger sandwiches; even to this day, Ms. Saunders still cooks like her grandmother did – with few spices. She also mentions that sewing and fishing taught her patience – both of which she still greatly enjoys. From a young age, Ms. Saunders knew that segregation was wrong and was vocal about it, even dropping out of high school to be in the midst of the political atmosphere back then.

Dorcas Saunders - On moving to Chapel Hill, segregation, family, and her childhood

Oral history interview of Saunders, Dorcas conducted by Watkins, Graham on October 12, 2018. Processed by Huynh, Michelle.

Citation: Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Dorcas Saunders - On moving to Chapel Hill, segregation, family, and her childhood,” From the Rock Wall, accessed July 21, 2024, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/dorcas-saunders-on-moving-to-chapel-hill-segregation-family-and-her-childhood.

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