William Carter

Interviewed by Omolulu Babatunde on March 28, 2012
William Carter discusses the movement and his background. He was born in the Bronx, New York in 1949 and discusses his heritage with a grandma being a Lumbee Native American and father being an African American. Carter moved back to North Carolina because his aunt was in poor health and he discusses what Chapel Hill looked like when he arrived. Carter went through schooling at Northside Elementary and Lincoln High School and participated in the Lincoln High football and band. He recalls taking French in high school, his transition from being a black in the North to the South, and the dedicated African American teachers. Carter was a good student and participated in many activities at Lincoln. He discusses integration in Chapel Hill which included smashed trophies, football titles, and basketball titles. He discusses how integration happened in Chapel Hill: Carter was President at Lincoln High school but the Vice President at Chapel Hill High School. Lincoln High School football coach became the assistant coach at Chapel Hill High School, black students dominated the integrated football team. His involvement with the movement: he started becoming involved at 13, sang at many of the protests; involvement of First Baptist Church, sit-ins at Colonial drug store, Big-John and Elaine’s Restaurant. He recounts Martin Luther King’s visits to the Chapel Hill executive committee about every two months, and he talks on those involved on the executive committee and the nonviolent civil disobedience strategies. Discusses differences between New York and North Carolina. Marches and protests: the danger of losing a job if you participate in protests, and Carter was arrested 17 times. He shares the strategies of going limp and that there were usually 40 to 50 arrested. The police often let children go and prosecuted the movement leaders. Carter led students off the Lincoln High grounds in protests in 1965 and for that, Principal McDougle almost did not give him academic student of the year. Carter discusses his time at NC Central. Carter discusses players in the movement: impact of Reverend Manley on the movement, movement tactics, acquiring permits to march from the police, and Pat Cusick’s involvement with the movement and aim to have the university involved further. He reflects on his freedom as a child and his mother’s influence, and that that he did not fear white people. His grandmother was a preacher. He discusses how the community has changed since his growing up. He discusses of modern civil rights issues, Florida laws and Trayvon Martin, the importance of fighting against unjust laws such as gun control. The interview concludes with discussion on the lack of responsibility in youth today. Discusses difference between moments and movements; University labor practices; Latino issues; murder of James Cates in the late sixties. Carter talks about racial prejudice in jobs today.

View Details

Dublin Core

Title

William Carter

Description

William Carter discusses the movement and his background. He was born in the Bronx, New York in 1949 and discusses his heritage with a grandma being a Lumbee Native American and father being an African American. Carter moved back to North Carolina because his aunt was in poor health and he discusses what Chapel Hill looked like when he arrived. Carter went through schooling at Northside Elementary and Lincoln High School and participated in the Lincoln High football and band. He recalls taking French in high school, his transition from being a black in the North to the South, and the dedicated African American teachers. Carter was a good student and participated in many activities at Lincoln. He discusses integration in Chapel Hill which included smashed trophies, football titles, and basketball titles. He discusses how integration happened in Chapel Hill: Carter was President at Lincoln High school but the Vice President at Chapel Hill High School. Lincoln High School football coach became the assistant coach at Chapel Hill High School, black students dominated the integrated football team. His involvement with the movement: he started becoming involved at 13, sang at many of the protests; involvement of First Baptist Church, sit-ins at Colonial drug store, Big-John and Elaine’s Restaurant. He recounts Martin Luther King’s visits to the Chapel Hill executive committee about every two months, and he talks on those involved on the executive committee and the nonviolent civil disobedience strategies. Discusses differences between New York and North Carolina. Marches and protests: the danger of losing a job if you participate in protests, and Carter was arrested 17 times. He shares the strategies of going limp and that there were usually 40 to 50 arrested. The police often let children go and prosecuted the movement leaders. Carter led students off the Lincoln High grounds in protests in 1965 and for that, Principal McDougle almost did not give him academic student of the year. Carter discusses his time at NC Central. Carter discusses players in the movement: impact of Reverend Manley on the movement, movement tactics, acquiring permits to march from the police, and Pat Cusick’s involvement with the movement and aim to have the university involved further. He reflects on his freedom as a child and his mother’s influence, and that that he did not fear white people. His grandmother was a preacher. He discusses how the community has changed since his growing up. He discusses of modern civil rights issues, Florida laws and Trayvon Martin, the importance of fighting against unjust laws such as gun control. The interview concludes with discussion on the lack of responsibility in youth today. Discusses difference between moments and movements; University labor practices; Latino issues; murder of James Cates in the late sixties. Carter talks about racial prejudice in jobs today.

Subject

Carter, William

Type

Oral History

Creator

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Publisher

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Date

2012-03-28

Contributor

Babatunde, Omololu

Rights

Open for research.

Format

MP3 (unknown bitrate)

Language

English

Identifier

CHCR_0108

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Babatunde, Omolulu

Interviewee

Carter, William

Interview Processor

Casey Molina, Tana Smith, Daniel, Jae Ho, Raymond Emma Beck, Emma Williams, Brady

Interview Date

Location

William Carter's Home in Carrboro, NC

Transcription

START OF SEGMENT [START 25:04]

Omololu Babatunde: So, I was just wondering as a 13 year old, or as a young person during the movement, how were you guys organized? Was there a group of you? Like, I know—

William Carter: Okay, I can say it started in the church or churches. First Baptist was prominent regardless of what T.T. says, St. Joseph was there somewhere, St. Paul was hardly nonexistent, as far as participating. We would meet up there. We would meet on the Masonic Temple on Rosemary. And Pat Cusick, James Farmer, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King come through. Well, Cusick was here all the time. I got into it because at that age I could sing.

OB: Yeah, which means—

WC: I had a soprano voice, extremely loud.

OB: Oh, wow.

WC: I could sing ,you could hear me all the way up Jones Ferry Road. That was no lie.

OB: Yeah

WC: That’s how loud I was. And sing on key.

OB: Yeah, yeah.

WC: And sing it right.

OB: Yeah

WC: So, I just started leading the songs “Hey, living with it” [Laughter] WC: And so, we started talk—singing, organizing a little bit, marching a little bit, and then that’s when we started forming this executive committee.

OB: Yeah.

WC: And we would meet once a week, sometimes just-- later on stages we’d only meet once a month, and we’ll plan where we’re going to demonstrate.

OB: Okay, so everything was planned?

WC: Everything was planned. It was not spontaneous.

OB: Yeah.

WC: Nothing was spontaneous.

OB: Yeah. WC: We would have these meetings as to—we would block out a week as to where we’re going to hit, or what we were going to do, or where we’re going to meet, or where we’re going to form- the whole nine yards.

OB: So, you as, like, a young person, thirteen, were meeting with Pat Cusick- older, people who were older than—

WC: Yeah, I was the only one in the executive committee.

OB: Wow, so—

WC: It was called the executive committee, and they might once a month, once every two-three months, Farmer, Abernathy, some more folks, can’t forget about Floyd McKissick. Well, Floyd McKissick was more than those others, because you know, they’re from out of state.

OB: Yeah.

WC: McKissick was right over there in Durham, on Roxboro Street.

OB: Oh, okay.

WC: And we would meet, and see what we were going to do. Now, what we did, we had what the youth was going to participate in--

OB: Yeah WC: Some things were too risky.

OB: Yeah

WC: Okay. What everybody- certain other folks were going to do, certain factions, because of risk- we didn’t know whether these white folk were going to shoot us, run over us, or what.

OB: Yeah

WC: What songs we were going to sing even, because most of the songs, we all just sang. We’d all sit down, and “blah blah blah”. We would plan—what King came in was civil disobedience and the nonviolent part. OB: Yeah WC: We held to that. Even when SNCC formed, the CORE formed, the CORE—well SNCC came as the SCL- Southern Christian Leadership Conference. They were here a lot, too.

OB: Okay.

WC: So they helped plan. CORE helped plan a lot.

OB: CORE, that’s right.

WC: But SNCC, the Student Nonviolent thingy-ma-jiggy—

OB: Yeah

WC: They were kind of like…

OB: No?

WC: Didn’t want to listen to Martin Luther King.

OB: The nonviolence part of it?

WC: Yeah…the nonviolence…

OB: Hm.

WC: Oh, everybody was nonviolent!

OB: Okay.

WC: But they kind of were like, they wanted to be up in the face.

OB: Yeah.

WC: Versus you sit there, you sit down, the cops want to take you away, let them take you away.

OB: Yeah. END OF SEGMENT [END 29:10:00]

START OF SEGMENT [START 1:05:52]

Omololu Babatundel: In the back of this book, there is a quote by Pat Cusick, who said one of the things that he wished the movement did was kind of -- ask the -- kind of put more pressure on the university to take a more active role in, you know, the movement and he inequalities that were happening -- especially because like you say so many of the people that worked there were in part of this movement and affected by this movement. So, do you hold is same viewpoint? Do you think the University--

William Carter: What he was saying was he wanted the professors to come out and march. He wanted the University to get the town of Chapel Hill to write an ordinance. That: “Hey look, let the black folks get what they want. Let them eat where they want. That’s all they want. You know that makes them come up from slave mentality up to an equal citizen.” At that time, the University, probably had five black students, dare if they had that many. Ok, but he wanted professors and he wanted the chancellor, I guess, and, to come to say—“Hey look, we are called liberal, you know. We’re the Southern part of heaven, but that’s only for white folk. That’s not for the blacks. The blacks are struggling. Most of them are working for you on jobs they got over here: janitorial, cleanup for you, and cooking.” You know, he wasn’t talking about how ok, go out here and get them better jobs. Like I said if you don’t have the qualifications, I can't go out here and be an aerodynamics engineer. I ain't got a clue where to start, you know? But if I want to go out there in the administrative, the financial part of it, I can do that. Back then, that’s what he was talking about, I guarantee you. Pat was down to earth. He was just like he was black. He act like he was black

OB: Oh really--

WC: Oh Yeah!

OB: How did you meet him? How did you meet Pat?--

WC: Through this [Carter taps on Courage in the Moment book]

OB: Oh yeah?

WC: Yeah, he was out there. He was in everything. He put his whole heart and soul into the movement.

OB: Wow

WC: One hundred percent. Every day. I don't know where he got his money from, how he lived -- he did not work. So evidently, somewhere he was independently wealthy.

OB: Hm

WC: Ok, because he was twenty something, thirty something, then. He was getting money from somewhere. I never asked him, didn’t care, but I knew he was here.

OB: He made himself present?

WC: Oh everything, and when you looked to a direction, you looked to Pat. A lot of the ideas came from him. He just made point-blank: “hey I am out here, use me as you will”

OB: I was wondering, could you tell me, a little more about your sit-in when you were on Rosemary and Franklin? Like what brought that about? Who’s idea was it? Also, am I wrong in thinking that it was during a football game -- like a football game in the University so, that you guys--

WC: Hold on, you’re confusing me now. Franklin’s over here, Rosemary runs parallel

OB: Oh ok

WC: Your talking about Columbia?

OB: Yeah, Columbia and Franklin Street, sorry

WC: You talking about when we blocked the cars?

OB: Yeah

WC: Oh ok, there weren’t kids out there, us. But, it happened a couple of times. The first time, we kind of dispersed. Alright, because we didn’t know if people were going to run you over or not. And, they would come right up to you. And the only reason they didn’t run over us was because police were right out there in front of us. But, that was a planned demonstration to go out there. And, like I said, they didn’t want youth out there. The first couple times it happened -- we couldn't go out there to sit. But, after they figured out they weren't going to run over us, then we could go out there to sit. Now you might want to ask Foushee more about that because he was seven, eight, seven or eight years older than I am so he can tell you more about that part. But as far as the plan was concerned, it was not just all of a sudden you go down. You had to have permits too, that was the other thing

OB: Oh?

WC: Oh, yeah yeah. I forgot about that -- to march

OB: you had to have permits to march?

WC: Oh yeah.

OB: Oh, I did not know that.

WC: Yeah, we had permits to march. There was no permit to sit down.

OB: Ok, so that’s why you got arrested.

WC: You got to have the permits to march, didn’t cost you nothing,

OB: Yeah yeah

WC: So the police knew where you were going to be—that’s the only reason. Ok, but to sit down though [in the street], that was not permitted.

OB: Ok --

WC: Period. That was not allowed. And that’s when we did it, and you didn’t move. That is why they took you to jail. And, from right there [on Franklin] you could just walk to the jail.

OB: Yeah.

WC: I only did that once.

OB: When sits, when sitting down there--

WC: Sitting on pavement—in the middle of the street. There was a circle all the way around—the one I did. I was down there a couple of times looking, because like I said, they would not let the youth get there. They did not want the youth hurt. They didn’t want to take responsibility for that because they wanted us to come back. It was a lot like you saw right there, there were a lot of demonstrations and youth orientating. But we were made sure we were safe. Now as far as marching down the streets, everybody participated. If it was certain people like the Washington Motel, there had to be grown-ups up there. Generally, Colonial Drugstore there were times that it was just the youth. Well, the youth in general weren’t there because that one was hostile-- they were hostile, but then they would let us intermingle with them. You know, you had some people come out there, “get off my property, niggers”-- stuff like that. Then that’s when they say, “okay youth out of the way, get more men in here.” Don’t want the women hurt and everything-- some women come out there and do it. There was actually some of the shop owners would come out there, “I’ll kill you” etc. And we took them literally, because we didn’t know--

OB: Yeah, you really--

WC: You don’t know--

OB: You don’t

WC: So--The police were well informed as where we were going to be, at all times. See out there at Watts Motel, that was outside city limits, so they were kind of on their own on that. The sheriff wasn’t going out there, I think the sheriff eventually did but I don’t know about that one that much because they would not let me go. And, like I said, by the time that I did get older, the Civil Right’s movement completely disbanded.

OB: Sorry, can you repeat what you said--

WC: Oh, oh, oh, oh, as I got older-- after sixty-four, the Civil Right’s, this movement right here, was gone. It was gone. When they passed the law that said, “Hello, you can eat where you want, speak where you want, go to the movies when you want and sit down”…So you could go to the movies and sit upstairs, if that girl you wanted to sit by was like “hey” [Laughing]

WC: But it was just the idea of it, you know-- the idea of, if I did want to sit down there, why can’t I?

OB: Yeah, exactly

WC: You know. Now the Varsity gave in real quick, they didn’t care. They said, “hey, come on in.” It was just at The Carolina Theatre. I don’t think the back of the Varsity had a balcony, if I remember correctly--

OB: If it’s a -- the same Varsity as

WC: Yeah, the same Varsity.

OB: Then it doesn’t have a balcony.

WC: Yeah, it didn’t have a balcony. But The Carolina Theatre, where the [inaudible] is now, didn’t have a balcony. If you were black, that’s where you had to sit. I started dating her, that’s where we sat. Well this was afterwards, we just sat up there cause we could sit up there and enjoy ourselves and do what we want to do. But- It was basically about the eating.

OB: What about -- so we’ve been talking a little about Martin Luther King and how he -- I think he was -- was it the Hargraves center that you saw him speak at? But anyways I just wanted to--

WC: Now, he may have. If he was, I don’t remember

OB: Okay, like when, when you heard him, like what was your impression of him, or how did he motivate you for the movement or anything--

WC: He -- his idea, his point, his emphasis was on nonviolence, completely non-violence. No violence. Civil disobedience, but to a nonviolent way. Say, if somebody came up, they hit you, you weren’t going to hit them back. He would say that, if somebody spit on you, you would not retaliate, ok. Civil disobedience, police arrest you, go limp. That was his idea. Okay, completely. Anybody did anything to you, you did not retaliate, regardless of what it was. Now, if someone came up to you with a gun, you’re just kind of like “okay...please don’t shoot me.” Then you might want to skidaddle. But there was -- we didn’t have to worry about that. We were lucky, you know, because nobody pulled – I can’t ever remember anybody pulling a gun-- or any kind of sticks, or anything to hit us with. You know, they wanted to, but the cops were always there-- that’s why we got the marching permits. So they knew where we were going and so they-- that was our protection too, more so that if the angry store, if they decided to retaliate, the police were right there looking at them. And come out and say, “Oh no you cannot do that. That’s an assault.” But, Martin Luther King came here, he did not speak that much if he did speak. He would come maybe once every other month. Him, James Farmer, Ralph Albernathy, a couple more folks, Floyd McKissick, and we would, like I said, it was mostly just executive committee. We met at the masonic lodge. END OF SEGMENT [END 1:16:32]

Duration

02:37:16

Citation

Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “William Carter,” Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust, accessed August 7, 2020, https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/items/show/171.

Related Content

The Civil Rights Story Circle allowed six community members to discuss their experiences as young African Americans in Chapel Hill in the 1960’s. Most of participants and their relatives were involved in the activist undertakings that are featured in James Wallace and Paul Dickson book, Courage in the Movement which is…