Charlene Smith

"Whether it was always having a black teacher, having a black custodian, having a black principal who directed the way the school was going. Black cafeteria workers. It was black people around you, which you always had a sense of family, and a sense of community. A sense of safety, and a sense of security. Which our students don't have at the present time."

- Charlene Smith

Charlene Smith - On her childhood, parents, education, student behavior, school integration

Charlene Smith - On her childhood, parents, education, student behavior, school integration

“What we had students don’t get now as easily. There’s something missing now for many of the kids…when I attended Lincoln there were Black role models around me everywhere…there were Black people around you, which you always had a sense of family, and a sense of community, a sense of safety, and a sense of security, which our students don’t have at the present time.”

- Charlene Smith

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. Charlene Smith is the daughter of Lucille and Charles McDougle, who were both educators in Chapel Hill. Smith recalls the strong sense of community within Northside Elementary and the surrounding areas. She also reminisces on her participation with the First Baptist Church, and how church was an important part of her life. She talks about the experience of attending a school in which her father was the principle. Smith discusses the high expectations of the school, while also fostering a nurturing school environment for the students and teachers. She talks about her participation in glee club and the marching band, and the pride that the community held in the marching band. She also discusses the impact of integration on her father’s job, as he was transferred to a school outside the Northside community and did not like his transfer. She discussed the negative aspects of integration felt by teachers who felt they were no longer as supported by their school.
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