Oral History

Willie "Brad" Bradshaw - On his childhood, education, and career coaching sports

Interviewed by Bob Gilgor on February 23, 2001

“If you have good football teams, it permeates throughout the entire school and it helps the other things that you’re going to do come up to par, come up to snuff or whatever you want to call it. It cuts down on a lot of discipline problems. Kids want to do more in school, because they see the athletes. It makes the band want to be good.”

- Willie "Brad" Bradshaw

Coach Willie “Brad” Bradshaw grew up in Durham, the only child to a single mother. He reflects on his own school experiences, going from Walltown Elementary School to Hillside High School and then finally to NCA&T. He explains that much of why he continued going to high school (and college) was to play sports. He details his experiences post-college, starting with a two-year stint from 1945 to 1947 as a paratrooper in the Army, after which he briefly attended a masters’ program before leaving to coach for a school in Scotland County. He then details his time at Lincoln High, going over everything from when he started coaching there to how he achieved such great success, what the football team meant to Lincoln students, the team’s uniforms and rituals, preparation for games, and assistant coaches including Albert Hogan and Milt Bynum. He then talks about some of the attention Lincoln received (from fans throughout NC as well as college scouts) before discussing his time post Lincoln, coaching for Dudley and later Hillside. Finally, he ends by discussing when he made up his mind that he wanted to coach and what coaching’s meant to him.

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.

Willie "Brad" Bradshaw - On his childhood, education, and career coaching sports

Willie "Brad" Bradshaw - On his childhood, education, and career coaching sports

Willie "Brad" Bradshaw - On his childhood, education, and career coaching sports

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Oral history interview of Bradshaw, Willie conducted by Gilgor, Bob on February 23, 2001 at Chapel Hill, NC. Processed by Allen, Kate.

Citation: Southern Oral History Program, “Willie "Brad" Bradshaw - On his childhood, education, and career coaching sports,” From the Rock Wall, accessed July 7, 2022, https://fromtherockwall.org/oral-histories/willie-brad-bradshaw-on-his-childhood-education-and-career-coaching-sports.

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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