Oral History

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

Interviewed by Bob Gilgor on February 16, 2001

“For me, high school was a good experience because I had my friends. We were in this big environment, and we had to stick together. We learned to love each other and care about each other. We didn’t know it, but we were nurturing each other.”

- Sylvester Hackney

Sylvester Hackney, a native of rural Chapel Hill, recounts growing up during integration in the 1960s. He discusses the challenges he and his classmates faced when Lincoln High School integrated with Chapel Hill High School in 1966. Breaking down the importance of family and community, Mr. Hackney addresses the shortcomings of the integration effort and how the Black community responded. He points out the symbolic importance of school dances, graduation ceremonies, school athletics, and the loss of Lincoln’s traditions during integration. He closes with parting wisdom, issuing a challenge to his community to learn from the past to create a more equitable future for everyone 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.

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration

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Oral history interview of Hackney, Sylvester conducted by Gilgor, Bob on February 16, 2001 at Chapel Hill Public Library, Chapel Hill, NC. Processed by Taylor, William.

Citation: Southern Oral History Program, “Sylvester Hackney - On growing up in Chapel Hill and school integration,” From the Rock Wall, accessed May 21, 2022, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/sylvester-hackney-on-growing-up-in-chapel-hill-and-school-integration.

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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