Oral History

Walter Durham - On school integration, his childhood, and race

Interviewed by Bob Gilgor on January 19, 2001

“[Lincoln] was a school that you could go in and… no paper on the school campus. Hallway shines like new money all the time. You could drink out of the commode in the bathroom. And it was kept just that clean.”

- Walter Durham

Walter Durham discusses growing up as part of a large family on his grandfather’s land and the close-knit school community of Northside Elementary. He speaks of his rocky transition from the all-Black Lincoln High School to the integrated Chapel Hill High School, and the protests that eventually broke out at Chapel Hill High due to racial tensions. Throughout the interview, Durham emphasizes a belief in community-building and strong discipline.

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.

Walter Durham - On school integration, his childhood, and race

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Oral history interview of Durham, Walter conducted by Gilgor, Bob on January 19, 2001 at Chapel Hill, NC. Processed by Killen, William.

Citation: Southern Oral History Program, “Walter Durham - On school integration, his childhood, and race,” From the Rock Wall, accessed July 7, 2022, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/walter-durham-on-school-integration-his-childhood-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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