R.D. and Euzelle Smith built their house on Caldwell Street after R.D. returned from serving in World War II. Leading figures in the neighborhood and the town, both were life-long educators in Chapel Hill. He was the principal of Lincoln High School and a mentor to many young people who grew up in the neighborhood. After the schools were desegregated, R.D. became an assistant principal at Chapel Hill high and remained a supportive presence for African-American students there.
Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On food and cooking
Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On changes in Northside
The interviewees share their experiences with living in Northside, the1940s until today, and the lack of interactivity between Northside and the university. There is a lack of progress in preventing harmful change to Northside. R.D. Smith talks about his own experience on town council. They talk about Northside as a rural area without police or fire protection. R.D. Smith held an education position as the highest paid teacher in the school system; Union schools, including Orange County Training School. The interviewees bought their land from the Caldwells, a family that at one time owned much of Northside. R.D. had experience in the army for 26 months, until discharged in 1946. They speak of their dislike of recent developments in and around Northside that don’t have the same “character,” including: “cookie cutter” homes, 154, Greenbridge, and others; lack of housing for students at the university leading to expansion “up and out” in Chapel Hill, and young people leaving Northside and having to sell their houses because of a lack of jobs. They continue the interview by talking about the problem of only having the hospital or the university as places to work, the increasing number of student rentals in Northside due to proximity to campus and free buses. They hope that their children will not sell the house. The interviewees recount the black owned businesses that operated in Chapel Hill, including NC Mutual, which allowed Euzelle and R.D. to mortgage their house. They talk about witnessing the desegregation of schools in Chapel Hill while R.D. and Euzelle were still working in the school system. The Smith’s grandparents are a sphere of influence they discuss in the interview. The interview concludes with hopes for the future of Northside, including an increase in the number of available jobs. They also give advice to be self-motivated and make a difference. Euzelle talks of growing up in Newport News, Virginia and the experience of being married for over 60 years. R.D. has an interest in current events relating to black history.
Euzelle and R.D. Smith - On Pottersfield and Smith Middle School
This interview was done as part of the “Histories of Homes” initiative of the Marian Cheek Jackson Center for Saving and Making History. The interview includes R.D.’s experience in WWII and his role in constructing their current home after the war. R.D. also held educator roles at Lincoln High School. R.D. talks about using the support of friends and family to build their home. Euzelle and their experience at Orange County Training School/Northside School is an important topic. They recount living in Pottersfield in the 1950s and subsequent changes in the neighborhood. They share memories of Smith Middle School. The “Over the Hill Gang” is a point of discussion. The interview also provides discussion of family photos and awards on the walls. R.D.’s deal with Fitch Lumber Co is noted. R.D. speaks on his mother’s role as child caretaker and neighbor. The interview concludes with discussion on children in daycare, and R.D. and Euzelle as “work-year” students at Hampton College.
R. D. Smith - About his childhood, career in education, and school integration
R. D and Euzelle Smith
R. D. Smith - On the African American freedom struggle and Civil Rights Movement in Chapel Hill
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