Clementine Self

"I've heard so many people in my generation say, "I don't want my children to go through what I had to go through," and I keep asking them, "What did you go through?" Everything that I went through, I appreciate. I mean, I don't know what I didn't have. If I didn't have it, I don't miss it, but I don't know what I didn't have."

- Clementine Self

Ms. Clementine Fearrington Self is a resident of Broad St. and a long-time teacher in Chapel Hill. She has been a tireless advocate for racial equity in schools, propelled by her experiences growing up in the Northside Community and marching in the Civil Rights Movement. She continues to be an active member of the community today, fighting for the same values she has her entire life

Clementine Self

Joseph Fearrington and Clementine Self - On home, community, World War II, and Civil Rights

Joseph Fearrington and Clementine Self - On home, community, World War II, and Civil Rights

The interview was conducted on the porch of Joe’s home, a wonderful venue for an interview about home and community, although maybe not ideal for sound quality. There was significant wind at times and the sound of the cars passing by on the street. The interview begins with Joe’s stories of how he came to Graham Street, then navigates back to earlier years of his life on the farm. Significant time was given to his experiences in WWII. The interview then turned to discussion about the construction of homes, early years in the area post-war, reflections on work and family life, and elements of pride in the journey to this point. Clementine joined for parts of the narrative, chiming in with questions and stories, especially related to her part in the local Civil Rights struggle.
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Clementine Self - On her childhood, civil rights, education, and school integration

Clementine Self - On her childhood, civil rights, education, and school integration

“I was going for my education, I was really going to make a statement that I’ve integrated this school–or desegregated, it was never integrated–desegregated the school. That was my goal.”

- Clementine Self

Clementine Self is a former student of Lincoln High School in Chapel Hill, NC. She discusses the challenges of transferring to the newly desegregated Chapel Hill High in 1963. Self grew up in a working class family that prioritized education. While Lincoln High School was strict with behavior and dress code violations, had many kind teachers, and offered a place for Self to express herself through marching band and school assemblies, she discusses the more lax attitudes and, at times, prejudiced teachers at Chapel Hill High. Self stresses that the school was desegregated, not integrated. In addition to detailing her high school career, Self expands on the importance of education during her childhood and the low rates of crime and drugs present in Northside during the 1960s.

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.

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