Oral History

Hilliard Caldwell - Speaking about his childhood, family, and race

Interviewed by Bob Gilgor on October 13, 2000

I was president of my student body at Lincoln High from 1955-56. That was the first time that I'd ever ran for an office where people voted for you based on what you stood for. Having experienced that in an all Black high school was the driving point in getting me to want to run for public office for citizens out in the community.

- Hilliard Caldwell

Hilliard Caldwell talks about his time as a youth living in Chapel Hill during segregation. He discusses the impact his family had on him while growing up and the valuable life lessons they taught him about race and navigating the times they all were living in. He also mentions how valuable R.D. Smith was in his development throughout high school and in convincing him to run for public office in 1980 in Carrboro. Mr. Caldwell also describes the times leading up to the integration of schools and how it evolved when they integrated. He reflects on growing up as an African-American and how times have changed with the African-American population today in Chapel Hill.

This interview is part of an oral history project called Southern Communities: Listening for a Change: Mighty Tigers--Oral Histories of Chapel Hill's Lincoln High School. The interviewes were conducted from 2000-2001, by Bob Gilgor, with former teachers, staff, and students from Chapel Hill, N.C.'s Lincoln High School, the historically black secondary school that closed in 1962 when a school desegregation plan was implemented. Interviewees discuss African American life and race relations in Chapel Hill, as well as education, discipline, extracurricular activities, and high school social life before and after integration.

Hilliard Caldwell - Speaking about his childhood, family, and race

Hilliard Caldwell - Speaking about his childhood, family, and race

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Oral history interview of Caldwell, Hilliard conducted by Gilgor, Bob on October 13, 2000 at Home of Hilliard Caldwell in Carrboro, NC. Processed by Palmer, Tyler.

Citation: Southern Oral History Program, “Hilliard Caldwell - Speaking about his childhood, family, and race,” From the Rock Wall, accessed July 7, 2022, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/hilliard-caldwell-speaking-about-his-childhood-family-and-race-relations.

Rights: Researcher must obtain written permission of interviewee, interviewer, director of the Southern Oral History Program, or director of the Chapel Hill Museum for publication.

View this interview on the Southern Oral History Program website

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