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0:00 - Interview introduction

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Partial Transcript: Charles W. Cole in Greensboro, North Carolina and

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer introduces herself and the interviewee

0:11 - Time at UNCG

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Partial Transcript: Mr. Cole, I think the best way to start would be for you to tell me the years you were at

Segment Synopsis: Cole talks about the years he attended UNCG, what his course of study was, and why he chose UNCG.

3:15 - Gendered campus accomodations

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Partial Transcript: All right. When you got to campus, where did you live, and what sorts of things did you

Segment Synopsis: Cole remembers how he didn't experience typical dorm life because there were not many accommodations for men on campus at that time

7:14 - Male campus experience

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Partial Transcript: Do you think it lost anything not being a dorm situation, where the rooms were along a long

Segment Synopsis: Cole recalls the general experience of men on a campus tailored to female students

9:26 - Minority male experience

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Partial Transcript: The—when you went in 1965, minorities were still in the minority at UNCG, and men were

Segment Synopsis: Cole describes what life was like as a double minority on campus as an African American man

20:43 - Coeducational classes

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Partial Transcript: Were the classes coed?

Segment Synopsis: Cole share some experiences that he remembers from his coeducational classes at UNCG

25:55 - Issues on campus

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Partial Transcript: So what? You were on campus and in college at roughly the same time I was, and there was

Segment Synopsis: Cole remembers that gendered issues were the most dominant on campus, yet still remembers how the campus population reacted to national social changes

39:52 - Transportation

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Partial Transcript: Okay. This is taking a little bit different tack, but I'm afraid I might forget it. Just for the

Segment Synopsis: Cole briefly talks about how students got around on campus

42:04 - Campus groups

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Partial Transcript: Okay, what about frats and sororities? Were they around?

Segment Synopsis: Cole talks about the groups that were present on campus and what many of the different groups did

48:23 - Traditions

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Partial Transcript: Oh, I think that's so fascinating to know that you were part of the groundwork for that. I bet

Segment Synopsis: The interviewer asks Cole about a few of the campus traditions and if he was aware of them

51:56 - National events

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Partial Transcript: I want to go back just a minute to national events. That was the span of time in which we

Segment Synopsis: Cole recalls student responses to national events such as the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr.

60:23 - Expectations at UNCG

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Partial Transcript: When you went to UNCG as a freshman, what did you expect of the school? What did you

Segment Synopsis: Cole discusses his expectations of UNCG and alternatively the expectations of the school for the students on the campus

69:24 - Experience at UNCG

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Partial Transcript: I have no doubt of that. That just about covers the agenda I had in mind. Are there any

Segment Synopsis: Cole reflects on his time at UNCG and what the experience at the school meant to him

72:38 - Interview conclusion

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Partial Transcript: Well, Mr. Cole, this has been my pleasure, and I appreciate it very much.

Segment Synopsis: Interviewer ends the interview


CJ: Mr. Cole, I think the best way to start would be for you to tell me the years you were at UNCG [The University of North Carolina at Greensboro] and what your course of study was and why you chose UNCG.

CC: Okay. Cheri, I went to UNCG in 1965 and finished in 1969. My course of study kind of turned out to be economics and business administration. Originally I had intended to major in math, but I felt like I had a few deficiencies in that particular area not having some of the core courses that were necessary for a math major, so business seemed to be sort of a logical corollary from that, and that's what I ended up majoring in. As to how I selected UNCG, it's not an easy--I don't have an easy answer for it. I had considered many other schools when I graduated from high school, but the scenario that came about that led to 1:00my coming to UNCG involved my school guidance counselor. One afternoon, the guidance counselor and the principal called me into the office and said they'd like to talk with me. At that time they knew I was looking at other schools to go to, and they said that they had an opportunity. I'm not really--I wasn't really sure what they meant by an opportunity, but I went in to listen anyway. And they approached me with the possibility of coming to The University of North Carolina at Greensboro. And what they said to me was that the university was recruiting minority students, and they felt like I had all the credentials that 2:00they were looking for. I didn't know anything about UNCG at that moment, and so I was really left in a kind of a quandary. I mean, I had to try to get some information kind of quickly in that, like I say, I was looking at other avenues. Not knowing anyone that went to UNCG, that sort of left me, again, in quite a bind. But the way that I approached it was that I talked with my counselor, and he pretty much assured me that based on what he knew from the curriculum and the guidelines that he had seen of what their requirements were that I pretty much met the bill and that he felt like I could make it in that environment. I thought about it for about a week talking with my guidance counselor and just 3:00various other students that I knew were going off to school--some of the places that I had originally intended to go to and decided this was definitely a challenge and I've always felt up to trying challenges, and so I made the commitment to go to UNCG.

CJ: All right. When you got to campus, where did you live, and what sorts of things did you find in dorm life? What was dorm life like?

CC: When I first got there, they did not have any male facilities per se. What the university had done was to--and I think they purchased it; I'm not certain--but there were some apartments on the corner of--I want to say Walker and Tate [Streets], right behind the old drugstore there. Right behind that area there were a set of apartment buildings, and that's where I lived my first year. We were sort of--well, they sort of sectioned it off. I guess they didn't make any real changes to it, but they sort of used the units--I think they were like one, two, four--maybe four units in it. And they put--they were assigning two 4:00males per unit. So that means we had like a living room, a kitchen, a little den area, bath and I guess that was about all. Then a hallway upstairs and a downstairs. So there should have been about eight guys in that particular unit. It was relatively interesting. We had our meals on campus, but, we had refrigerators so we could have, we could keep food in the room and could bring a hot plate or--in fact, we actually had a stove. There were stoves there. So it was just like a furnished apartment unit--

CJ: Unlike the women.

CC: Unlike the women. Correct. [both laugh] So it was a pretty decent situation in that, if you didn't want to go to the dining hall, then you could make provisions for yourself. I was assigned to a room with--and I think I remember 5:00my initial roommate by the name of Jim Sprinkle [did not graduate]. That turned out to be not such a good experience to begin with. I don't believe that Jim knew that I was a minority when he got there and I was pretty sure that he was going to be a Caucasian but, I wasn't apprehensive about it. I mean, it was going to be a different living arrangement and I figured that we'd get to know each other. But after we met and we talked the first day--his parents were there with him, and I don't know whether or not they did not like the particular living arrangements, but he did find accommodations elsewhere, and I ended up living my freshman year alone. I had the access to a [unclear] apartment by myself.


CJ: Did you have contact with the other guys in the unit?

CC: Oh, yes. Everybody else--the other guys were--there were two per, like I said, per unit there and the rest of the guys stayed. There was no problem. We became real good friends. Jim, I would see him around campus after that, and he really always apologized for the fact that he felt like he wanted to do it, but his parents were a little bit apprehensive about it, and so therefore they made arrangements elsewhere for him. As I said we were fairly good friends most of the time. We talked--he would always apologize for the situation but, I understood. I was away from home for the first time, and so was he. So, we had to get adjusted to the environment that we were going to matriculate in for the next four years. And I suppose that his parents wanted him to at least have--not have any distractions per se. So it was a little lonely at first, but, as I say, 7:00by the other guys being in the other units next door, and as we began to talk and know each other it worked out to be a real nice situation.

CJ: Do you think it lost anything not being a dorm situation, where the rooms were along a long hall and you would pass each other, or did your fellowship with the other guys--how was it affected by living in an apartment rather than in a dorm?

CC: Well, I can't say there was any difference. I imagine that we probably would have had more contact if we were on a dorm hall, in that you have common, common facilities for bath, etcetera. So you would have passed each other more often. But by the fact that we had individual units, the contact was such that if you 8:00wanted to see someone, you almost had to go up to their door and knock because we came and went at various different times. And, I could go maybe a week, unless I ran into someone in a class or passing on campus, would I ever see that particular--the individuals that lived there in the same apartment complex with me. So in that respect, I guess it was a little bit more isolated than it would have been in a dorm environment. But as years progressed--I mean, I did have a dorm experience, so I can't say that, that it was negative. In fact, now when I look back to when I moved into the first coed dorm that was built on campus, which was Phillips-Hawkins [Residence Hall], then I kind of missed apartment living. Because then you had a lot of activity which again kind of distracted sometimes from your study time. You had common areas in the dorm, and it wasn't like you could--I mean, you could always get away and go to your room, but you could always hear the noise from the common areas as it infiltrated around the building complex itself. But I enjoyed both situations. By the fact that they 9:00did build a coed dorm, I think it began to bring individuals closer together because then you are kind of more or less forced into contact rather than having to venture out and make an individual contact.

CJ: The--when you went in 1965, minorities were still in the minority at UNCG, and men were still in the minority.

CC: Very much so. [both laugh]

CJ: Can you give me just a rough guesstimate as to how many men there were on campus and how many minority folks there were? Just guess.

CC: Males--my guess would be about thirty. But I'm going to have to say that on 10:00campus, per se, there were probably--possibly eight or ten males on campus. The other males that I came in contact with were town students--those that could commute into the campus.

CJ: But enrolled in the school?

CC: Yes, they were enrolled in the school. Minority males--there were two in 1965. There was one individual who was--. At the time I would have been a freshman and he was a sophomore when I got there, but he was a town student at that time. The total overall minority enrollment, I would say, was somewhere around a hundred, a hundred and fifty, with two males and approximately a 11:00hundred and thirty females from all of our classes--freshmen, sophomores and on up.

CJ: Okay. Talk to me about how it felt to be a male and a minority on that campus. What was it like, if you can remember?

CC: It was a different experience. Coming out of high school where the population of males to females was about equal and going into an environment where it was definitely a minority not only as a male, but as a minority, per se, it turned out to be--I guess I would call it a trial in survival. I picked up some vibes when I initially got there that possibly the school had not fully thought out the, the role of the male there on campus.

CJ: I think you're right about that. [both laugh]

CC: They were being invited to come to school there, and I think they had decided that they wanted a change in the enrollment and the the psychology, the 12:00tone, the atmosphere of the school, but I don't believe that it had been sold to the point that the total administration was ready for it. I found some classes to be a little bit what I'll call testy, in that as a male, I don't think that the instructors would recognize males--and I'm not saying minorities, but just males--as individuals. They would come into class and say, "Hello, ladies." And myself or possibly another--basically there were maybe--in most of my classes 13:00there were no more than two guys, myself and maybe one other, and we wouldn't be recognized.

CJ: He walked in and said, "Hello, ladies?"

CC: Yes. And so you felt a little bit at uneasy but, what could you do. He was instructing. He was in charge. We'd never try to make a point of having him recognize us. Generally, the class would begin to go on and instruction and you'd have question and answer sessions and sometimes I always felt that the hardest questions were directed at the males for whatever reason. But it proved to be sort of a challenging environment in that I tried to respond as well as I could under the circumstances, not knowing what--whatever response I gave, what kind of reaction that it would trigger. But during that time, it--in certain 14:00instances, I guess I felt like there was some backlash, but in others I think as the weeks and the days wore on and like you get past first semester and they look up and you're still there, they begin to have a little bit more respect for you and they would begin to speak to you kind of in an individual--on an individual basis. I was assigned to, like not a tutor, but a counselor, and I would go in and talk with a counselor and basically it was that kind of questions, "How are you doing? How is it going in classes? Are you getting acclimated, etcetera?" It was kind of a slow process. I thought about maybe dropping out after first semester, but I'm not a quitter, so I went home for first semester break and I told my parents that this is one of the hardest 15:00things I've ever done. I felt like that I could survive under the circumstances of what my school counselor had told me, but I didn't know that there would be little innuendos and things like that thrown as obstacles other than just the regular classwork. But after the first semester, I said, "Well, if I don't go back, then I'm a quitter and I said I've never been that," so I went back for second semester and, as I said, by showing up it seemed that some of the instructors began to look at myself and other males because none of the males dropped out after the first year. They were all back for second year. So, I think that we as a group made an impression in that, we had to 16:00stick-to-itiveness not to be defeated by the change that was going on in the environment in the school. The town--the male town students, I guess, had it a little bit easier because they didn't--they weren't on campus in the afternoons. They would come in, take classes and they would leave. But we were there twenty-four hours a day. And so, the social activities and the literary activities, you know, events that were scheduled that you would go to, it would be a little bit of a--I guess you would feel kind of left out because it was basically still geared for females. And so you'd go and you would show your presence there, but you didn't say a lot. You just kind of observed and hoped that someone would take an interest and talk to you and kind of bring you out and get you involved in it. The minority females that were there, they probably had it a little bit easier than minority males in that there were more of them 17:00and they were able to band together. They were in concentrated groups in the dormitories. And they could come together and discuss common problems and come up with solutions and give each other support. I mean, I didn't really have a support structure other than the fact that I think that the males, myself and the majority of males, began to bond together as I described some of the situations that we encountered. And that, more or less, gave us some reinforcement and some support. And over the years that I was there, I felt like I did develop some fairly decent friendships and that even that I maintain even up until today.


CJ: Oh, that's good to know. I hear you saying--am I correct in hearing that your primary identification was as a male, not so much as a minority male? In that situation, being male was more of an issue, really, than being a minority male. Is that what you're saying?

CC: That is correct. That is very correct.

CJ: Okay. You were breaking into the "old girls'" network.

CC: Right. That's exactly right. [both laugh] We were breaking into the "old girls'" network, and I--you know, I don't know a lot about the history of this school, but it was very evident in a lot of instances--even male instructors there, I think, felt a little bit un-at-ease with some of the politics of the administration. I can't say whether or not they were biased one way or the other, but I would assume that they were in that--you're talking of a women's college which is now moving into the mainstream of the twentieth century by going coed. So male instructors who were there probably did not have tenure that 19:00the female instructors had, so they were struggling for identity also, I believe. So I think the male--just the maleness of being on a female, all-female campus caused a lot of bonding from an instructor-student-male relationship as well.

CJ: So you're saying that there was even less distance between you and your male instructors than there might be now because you were all men in a sea of women, and you were trying to figure out how to cope with this?

CC: That is correct.

CJ: You mentioned something about innuendos and vibes that you picked up. First of all, were those racial or at you as a man? And secondly, what types of innuendos did you get?

CC: There was--I think there was a little bit of both. One of the schools that was really strong over there was the School of Physical Education. And by being 20:00a male and being physically active from high school, I was looking for an outlet to continue to be physically active. Well, going into the physical education department, you--there was probably a gender relationship-type thing that came into play in that here were males who were wearing scantily clad shorts and tops who were placed in an environment with females which had previously been all female.

CJ: Were the classes coed?

CC: Yes. The classes were coed.

CJ: The gym classes were coed?

CC: Yes, they had coed gym classes. And, you kind of found that you were a 21:00little bit isolated in that--I guess the instructors didn't know how to handle it because some of the sports were not what I would consider contact sports, but they were sports where you would get in--physically you could get close, but not any other way.

CJ: For instance?

CC: Well, we played volleyball and one male on a side with five females. Right. And you're bumping into each other.

CJ: We're waving our arms here. [both laugh]

CC: Right. You're raising your arms.

CJ: The tape can't see that.

CC: Right. [both laugh] We had swimming--one male in the pool with all females. What else did we have? Badminton--you generally would play two to a side against two. We probably played a little basketball. So these were all sports where you were coming in contact with females, and they were having to learn how to accept 22:00your presence. And that presented sort of a challenge. It wasn't a problem. I think the instructors had to see how was it going to go. Was there going to be any kind of interplay other than just, just the normal physical activity that you should be getting from a class? In physical education classes, per se, where it was just basic instruction--I can recall one class where this particular instructor--we were talking about nutrition, and we were talking about how rural North Carolina survived on something less than the most nutritious-type foods. And I was kind of singled out as being an individual who could give some insight on that. [laughs]


CJ: Oh, no. Were you able to?

CC: No. [laughs]

CJ: She just assumed that?

CC: She just assumed, yes, the instructor did. And I said, "No, I'm not from rural North Carolina." I said--

CJ: I eat well. [both laugh] I eat well!

CC: Yeah, dietary habits and things like that, you understand. But, I didn't take it personally. I guess, it would throw you for a loop a little bit in that you're talking in general, and then all of sudden, "Well, Mr. Cole can tell us something specific to this." And, I'm sitting--I don't--what I can say [laughs] because I really don't--I'm not familiar with what you're speaking of.

CJ: Like you were asked to be the spokesman--

CC: Spokesman, yeah, for situations like that.

CJ: Okay. Very awkward. [laughs]

CC: Awkward.


CJ: That still happens on the campus.

CC: And then in another class--it was a literary class--and there was a male instructor here, and he had initially been one of the first ones who, when I first got there who would not recognize me when I came for class. He would say, "Hello, ladies" and ignore speaking to me. But, as I said, as time went on, he did begin to recognize me. But on many occasions, I would--normally in class, when questions are asked, if you feel like you're going to answer most of the time you'll raise your hand. And sometimes he would ask something that no one would raise their hand, so if it was up to him to pick someone, and I seemed to always get picked for it to give an answer. And I always felt like he was putting me on the cuff by doing that. And I was a little resentful at first, but I felt like that I had to maintain my manhood and respond, which I did. And I think that more or less changed his attitude because I didn't just sit there and not answer. I mean, I gave my opinion. And if--even though he may not have agreed with it, he noticed that I did stand up for my point of view, and I think 25:00that changed his whole opinion about myself and other males that were coming into his class. It wasn't just that we were just there to be on campus. We were there for an education, and that meant that we would meet his challenge. And I think he was challenging us to, "Either prove to me that you're here for an education, or I'm going to make it so tough on you so you won't come back."

CJ: So you met his challenge?

CC: I met his challenge. [both laugh]

CJ: Good for you.

CC: I'm not going to say it turned out okay on the grade side. [laughs]

CJ: So what? You were on campus and in college at roughly the same time I was, 26:00and there was an awful lot of social upheaval going on at that time. And there were some outstanding events that happened then and in that span of four years, and a lot of people taking to the streets for civil rights and stuff. What kinds of events were important on the campus and which ones did you take part in--everything from political to social? What were you involved in?

CC: Okay, as I said, from a minority standpoint, the minority women, more or less, dominated the issues on the campus as far as relates to civil rights. When I came in as a freshman, as I said, there were classes of freshman minorities, etcetera, on up to seniors.

CJ: All four years?

CC: All four years, yes. And so therefore, they were socially and civilly conscious of who they were and where they were at that point in their lives. So 27:00they had formed an organization that they called "The Black Student Union." And they had formed that, so I was not an originator of that particular venture, but I became a member of it. Again, I was not a [sic] officer. I was just a participant, more or less, in some of the activities that went on there. As a group, they began to invite individuals that were--particularly here in North Carolina--were state known to the campus to speak. The administration did not sanction it. We actually had a black student week, whereby individuals like Nelson Johnson [civil rights activist]--I'm trying to remember--I can't remember 28:00this individual's name, but he was based in Durham [North Carolina] at the time.

CJ: Mickey Michaux [assistant district attorney, member of North Carolina General Assembly]?

CC: Mickey came on campus at one time, but there was another individual who was a little bit more of a firebrand than Mickey. We invited them to campus. They put on various seminars, etcetera.

CJ: C.E. Boulware [mathematics professor at North Carolina Central University, Durham]?

CC: No. It was not he.

CJ: No. Okay.

CC: The name may come to me as we talk. And during that time when we invited these individuals to campus to speak, I mean, the total population was, it was open to the total student population. They could come to any of the events. And a lot of the white students did come to it, and I think there were some good exchanges, both give and take, because of all the things that were going on in 29:00the nation--the sit-ins, the first integrations in high school, etcetera. All of this was beginning to take place. So, as I said, there was a real good exchange. Certain instances--I think the administration was overly cautious because they would always have security, not only campus security, but sometimes the city security there on campus. They never actually interfered in the group's sessions or anything like that, but their presence sometimes gave the illusion that they would if certain things were said or done that the administration would frown upon.

CJ: That you weren't totally trusted?

CC: Correct. I think that was probably the thrust. We weren't totally trusted to say that we could hold seminars and rallies and not create disruption.


CJ: That's been a problem recently too.

CC: On campus?

CJ: Same issue. Campus security with black group meetings. And it hasn't died out.

CC: We never had any kind of racial incidents at UNCG, but at the same time, A&T [North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, Greensboro, North Carolina] had this big incident where they moved in the National Guard. And there was shooting, and I think a couple of people were killed and injured. There were definitely some injured, and I can recall--at least I know of one individual being slain. And to this day I don't if they've ever found who was responsible for it. All they know is that it was possibly a stray bullet from when the National Guard moved onto campus to quell the disruption that was going on over there in reference to some of the situations that were going on.

CJ: Forgive me for interrupting you, but I don't want to lose this train. Can 31:00you just outline what the issues were? Was this the cafeteria workers' unionizing issue or was it--? What were the issues that you remember?

CC: No. You're speaking of the cafeteria workers on the campus of UNCG?

CJ: Yes, and I also thought at A&T also. I thought there was an effort to unionize them.

CC: I'm not exactly certain if that was a catalyst for the reason that the students took to the streets and were demonstrating, etcetera. There may have been some other incident that actually triggered it from that standpoint. But I recall that that was going on and that--I know that organizers from A&T had come to UNCG to help to organize the cafeteria workers. Now how that all fit in, I'm not exactly certain.

CJ: Okay, okay.

CC: But during the time that the, as I said, the National Guard moved onto the campus of A&T, the administration of UNCG became very apprehensive, and they allowed all of the black students there to leave campus and go home if they so 32:00desired. And I think that probably a hundred percent of us took advantage of it and went home until things quieted down in the city. I think they were really afraid of the fact that there would be spillover from the incidents at A&T, whereby students from A&T would feel that UNCG did not suffer the indignities of having the National Guard come onto their campus, so therefore they would take retribution on UNCG. And by the fact that we were blacks at UNCG, they felt like that we could help to incite that kind of action. And to possibly calm the waters and keep those of us who at that time had not really gotten into just massive street demonstrations as the students at A&T, that they felt like it would be best if they allowed us to just leave campus. And I think we were gone 33:00basically maybe a week, week and a half, before we returned to campus.

CJ: How did you and your other acquaintances, your other minority acquaintances, feel about being sent home, as it were?

CC: Well, we--I think most of us, being that we were kind of isolated on this side of town or that side of town away from the action and the violence that was going on on the A&T side of town and basically because of the fact that it was predominantly 99.9% female, they welcomed that opportunity because they didn't 34:00know what would happen if the A&T students decided that we're going to bring UNCG into this in some shape, form or fashion. I personally felt like it was probably the best move at the time because there was potential for violence to an extent that I didn't want to be involved and so I felt probably better at home than I would have staying there on campus.

CJ: Okay. I know from my own experience on campus in Illinois there were some national events that really rocked the campus and unified the campus that happened during that time. What were the national events that unified and/or 35:00rocked UNCG's campus?

CC: Well, it would have been probably the same thing. I think the Kent State [University] incident [On May 4, 1970, unarmed Kent State students were killed and injured by the Ohio National Guard while protesting the American invasion of Cambodia.]--

CJ: That was actually 1970.

CC: '70, okay, that was the year after I had gone. But I'm pretty sure that that was--at that time when I left in '69, the population of males, black minority males, had increased on UNCG's campus. And these were students that were coming out of now some of the integrated high schools, and I'm--by my senior year there, I could tell that they wanted change quickly. They didn't want to be considered second-class students. And I think as the numbers increased, there was that kind of an atmosphere that might have permeated the atmosphere there. By my being a senior and a lot of the other individuals that were coming in--they were freshmen, sophomores--I had kind of been through the wars, per se and I was on the way out.

CJ: You paved the way.

CC: I was on the way out. [both laugh] And I tried to leave the wisdom that I 36:00felt like I had gained in my four years is that the--this is a good environment to get a good education. There are things that need to be changed and that should be changed, and I said that each person in his own way has to go about making that change by making people see you in another way other than the way that they may perceive you. But also--

CJ: One on one.

CC: One on one, yes. Right. Also though, there was still the need for collective action. And some of the younger individuals were a little bit more firebrand than perhaps I had been early on. But as I say, you know, as the male minority 37:00population increased, then it kind of got to where the female minority population was when I first got there. They began to interact more, they began to compare notes, they began to say--see little inequities and they began to speak up. So by '69 when I was leaving, it was--the school was in kind of--more of a--kind of a topsy-turvy state than when I initially got here. So as you say, the Kent State incident--I was away. I had left Greensboro, but I kept in contact, at least my first year away, because I was only in Hickory, North Carolina. So I was coming to Greensboro about every week, and I was stopping by campus to see some of my former schoolmates, etcetera. And they were still very active in the--now they call it the Neo-Black Society--they were petitioning for 38:00black studies programs. They were petitioning for black instructors. They were petitioning for all other--any other means of getting racial identity. And see, I could only just sympathize with them because I was no longer there on campus. But I felt like they were going in the right direction, and it was making the school more socially conscious of the needs of minority students.

CJ: Did the black men, when they discovered their own identity, racial identity as a group, then join with the black women and do things together or were there two separate groups?

CC: No. The two groups seemed to meld fairly well. As I said, when I first got 39:00there there was--I didn't have any problem melting into the group, but basically the black women still dominated the agenda [laughs] [unclear].

CJ: Yeah, well [unclear].

CC: They dominated the agenda, and they led the way and they were the pioneers as far as forming the Neo-Black Society, etcetera. By my senior year, with more black males there, and they were beginning--the black males then, began to give rise to their independence and began to assume--really most of the major roles in the organization and to steer the agenda toward more--I'm not going to say a male point of view because I don't believe that that's what it was, but to just be a little bit more aggressive than females normally would have tended to be.

CJ: Okay. This is taking a little bit different tack, but I'm afraid I might forget it. Just for the record, were cars allowed on campus and were there 40:00sororities and fraternities yet? In other words, were students allowed to have cars and were there sororities and fraternities?

CC: Now, that's a good question. I know that town students drove to campus, but I can't recall any of the individuals that came in with me and that survived the four years having a car.

CJ: Well, the reason I ask that is because when you talked about A&T as being so far on the other side of town, it implied that there was very little mobility.

CC: Very little.

CJ: And I really didn't think that cars were allowed then yet and--

CC: No, I don't think that you were authorized to bring, to keep a car on campus. Now, if you were a town student, yes, you could drive in, but your sticker was only good for whatever period of time that, that you had your registration for.

CJ: Right.

CC: I'm not certain whether or not though the female students by the time they 41:00became seniors, whether or not they were--or any student at that point--was allowed to have a car on campus, but financially I couldn't afford one, so I never really even looked into it. [laughs] But basically I did go between campuses, but my main means of transportation was by city transport.

CJ: City bus?

CC: City bus or hoof. [laughs]

CJ: Hoof?

CC: I've had to do that on occasions.

CJ: Whoa, that is a walk. That's a Crop [Hunger] Walk [walks sponsored by Church World Service to raise money to fight hunger]. [both laugh]

CC: I know. In my freshman year, I did it a couple of times, and that was as I said, I was the only black male living on campus, and sometimes I longed for people of my own identity and so I would go over to A&T and sometimes I would stay a little later than what the--what the public transportation ran, so I 42:00would have to walk back, but generally I would catch the bus back and forth.

CJ: Okay, what about frats and sororities? Were they around?

CC: No, no. There were not any fraternities or sororities. Well, there were sororities--not sororities. I guess they would be academic frat--what would you call that?

CJ: Were there still the four literary societies? I don't--in the '40s and '30s there were four literary societies, for which the Coraddi [school literary magazine] was actually named. A lot of people don't know this. There was the Cornelian, the Adelphian, the Alethian and the Dikean literary societies, which I think went out in the '50s.

CC: I'm not familiar with any of those, no.

CJ: And Coraddi was a compilation of the first syllables of all of those, is how the Coraddi got its name. But anyway, tell me about some of the campus 43:00traditions that were there from Woman's College [of the University of North Carolina] days when you were there and some of the new traditions that evolved while you were there.

CC: I could remember--I don't know if it was a campus tradition or not, but during the fall semester, somewhere around the last part of October or mid-October, we had a few busses from other campuses that would pull up to the dormitories. And there would be busses from [University of North Carolina at] Chapel Hill, Wake Forest [University, Winston-Salem, North Carolina], Duke [University, Durham, North Carolina], NC State [North Carolina State University, Raleigh, North Carolina]. And they would pick up various groups of--and I'm not sure whether they were--I think that any of the students were allowed to go--females--because these were fraternities sending buses up to pick females up to come to football games, [laughs] for socials. Because, you see, UNCG did not 44:00have--well, they did have female teams at that time, but no athletic tradition, so in order to give, I guess, the females an outlet, then the fraternities from the various schools would send out buses to take them to the games. And they were, I think most times, they would be back late that night after the games and parties, etcetera. Traditions. I initially don't recall any, but during my tenure there, we instituted the first men's athletic basketball team. So, in a way, I was probably one of the pioneers in creating the rudiments of a men's athletic program as it exists today. We formed the team officially in 1967, 45:00which meant we played the 1967-68 year. But prior to that, the males had bonded together and, as I said, I was still athletically inclined coming out of high school and a lot of the other males that were there were also. So we, as an offshoot of some of the physical education classes, we would get together and just play among ourselves for the competition and camaraderie. And we found that we missed athletic competition. So at the time, we were working with a grad assistant named--I can't remember his first name, but I remember his last name was [Victor] Lutz [master's in physical education in 1969]. And we began to ferment the idea of petitioning the administration for a men's basketball team.

CJ: Intercollegiate?

CC: Intercollegiate, yes. We approached Dr. [James S.] Ferguson [chancellor] with the idea, and he was very encouraging and gave us the incentive to go ahead with it, which we did. As the groundwork was laid, they brought in some more 46:00manpower in the physical education department to help organize and get this endeavor off the ground. They brought in an individual by the name of Dr. [Frank] Pleasants and an individual by the name of Jim Swiggett [master's of education in physical education 1968, men's basketball coach], and they were the administrators of the first men's basketball team.

CJ: The coaches?

CC: Right. Well, one was like the, I'd say quasi-athletic director. He wasn't quite the athletic director, but he had sort of a dotted line responsibility that would be the equivalent of an athletic director.

CC: --we had to form a cheerleading squad, and we were able to encourage the 47:00females on campus to get involved and through the auspices of the physical education department, they put together a cheering squad. So this was kind of the first--my first real encounter with setting tradition of something that I felt like I was a part of outside of just being on campus and going to class every day. Our first year, we generated not a lot of interest, but some interest. You could see that the powers that be in the physical education department were a little skeptical, but they were willing to give us the opportunity to participate and to see what we could do with it.

CJ: Basketball?

CC: Basketball, correct. And the long range objective, which was stated at that time, was to bring on other sports as the male population began to increase. And I guess, as you can see, up to the present, that has been done. And the university, overall, is now beginning to make a move to [National Collegiate 48:00Athletic Association] Division I status. So it's been a long--it seems to me, that it's been a long haul for to get to where they are today. But I'm real encouraged that by being a pioneer, by being one of the inaugurators of the men's athletic tradition, that the sky's the limit at this point, I believe.

CJ: Oh, I think that's so fascinating to know that you were part of the groundwork for that. I bet that's really something. Let me just rattle off a few traditions that I'm aware of and see if they were still around at the time. This one would have been a new one, and I don't know if it came when you were there or not. Was the rock around? Did people paint the rock?

CC: No. No, they did not.

CJ: No? Okay, that must have been later. What about Charley's statue [of Charles Duncan McIver, founder of the institution]? What did they do to Charley?

CC: I can't recall us ever doing anything to Charley. [laughs]

CJ: Did the women do stuff to Charley?

CC: I believe I can--I think that my freshman or sophomore year, I can remember there was a big commotion and--about--and I can recall the next day going to 49:00class and seeing graffiti and tissue and all of that on him. But I don't know whether it came about as dormitories challenging each other or what caused that to happen. But I do recall that the statue was defaced, per se it wasn't anything of a vigilante-type nature, but it was just toilet tissue and string and stuff like that on him.

CJ: Okay. The Daisy Chain. Does that ring any bells?

CC: I'm familiar with that term, but again, that was a female tradition. [laughs]

CJ: Did you ever see one?

CC: No, I didn't.

CJ: Okay. I believe it was fading out about then. It was where the sophomore class, which for years had been the sister class of the seniors, went out near 50:00graduation weekend into a field nearby and spent the whole day collecting daisies and wove them into long ropes and would stand and hold them on two flanks and the seniors would pass through them to graduate.

CC: No. I did not see that.

CJ: Okay. Class rings and class jackets.

CC: We did have class rings, but the jackets, if they were present I was not aware of it, per se.

CJ: They had--I know in '68--I talked to a man who matriculated in '68, and the jackets at that time had a pocket, a lapel pocket, with the daisy embroidered on it and to accommodate men, they would give them an alternate pocket that could be sewn on without the daisy on it. And Jim [James D. Lancaster, class of 1972, master of arts 1974 , doctor of education 1985] sewed his alternate pocket on and threw the daisy away and wishes he had kept it but--

CC: That probably was available to the male population also, but at that time, I 51:00guess most of the males probably weren't cued into it. You probably had to get it through your association with a female who told you about it.

CJ: You're probably right.

CC: Yeah. So I don't recall being introduced to a jacket, per se, because I probably would have gotten one if I had known about it.

CJ: Did you know about class colors?

CC: Yes.

CJ: What class--do you know what your class colors were?

CC: No. [laughs] I would guess--I think they're blue and white.

CJ: I don't know what mine are. I don't know.

CC: I know I've seen at a lot of the reunion activities in the Alumni News [college magazine] that comes out, but I can't recall what the class colors are.

CJ: I want to go back just a minute to national events. That was the span of time in which we lost some big leaders, some real important leaders. What 52:00happened on the campus when Dr. [Martin Luther] King [Jr., civil rights activist, clergyman] was killed in '68, if you remember?

CC: It was a very somber day, particularly for the minority students. I recall that we came together and thought about boycotting classes, but we didn't.

CJ: Classes were not called off?

CC: No. We came together to talk as a group. Wept. Cried. Wondered if this was the beginning of the end of time because we really felt like that there would really be a lot of interracial violence.


CJ: You sensed that then?

CC: We sensed that, yes. We sensed that. Because of how he was thought of as a black leader and having gone through and watched the defection of those who advocated violence, per se, such as the Black Panthers [African-American revolutionary leftist organization] and groups that were considered to be a lot more radical than he. He was a man who spoke with nothing but love and reconciliation in his heart. For him to be murdered and there not be a response was almost totally unbelievable at that time. I think at that point, on campus, I think that the whole atmosphere was one of "What's going to happen?" But I 54:00think because of the fact that there were a predominance of minority females that there was really no real backlash. We as a group suffered in silence and didn't make do any demonstrable type--take any demonstrable type actions, that--

CJ: Were there any public-type memorials?

CC: Yes. But they were basically conducted from what I would say the black side, the black campus, which would be A&T. They pretty much led all of the memorials and the demonstrations that went on during that period of time.

CJ: How were the white students affected?

CC: Most in my in the reference that I came into contact, and particularly the 55:00guys that were--that I was close with, that I played athletics with, were very sympathetic. The overall, general feeling that I got was that we're going to maintain our distance and hope that you don't take it out on us. That we were not responsible. That we didn't cause his death. That kind of thing.

CJ: Defensive?

CC: Kind of defensive, yes.

CJ: Did anybody reach in?

CC: Not that I could put my finger on. As I said, I think most people didn't want to talk about it because they didn't know what to say. How do you portray that emotion to the individuals that tend to be living the experience that he was trying to get everyone to realize. It's kind of like it was little bit 56:00boring to know what we were suffering through and how we were reacting to the environment that we find ourselves in. But we don't want to make you feel any worse, and I don't--they just didn't know how to reach out and really get your opinions of the whole situation.

CJ: Was it like someone had died that they didn't know? It was like it wasn't their grief?

CC: Right. Correct.

CJ: Is that correct?

CC: That's about the way I would view it. It's like it was not their grief. They could tell that, that you were feeling something, and that that possibly could be a change in your attitude toward them because you were considered now you 57:00were of the race that caused his death. And so, what--how do you reconcile the two? So it was just kind of an uneasy truce that went on during that period.

CJ: What happened to that truce? How did it evolve?

CC: It just sort of dissipated. Again, minority women and by my being on UNCG's campus, I didn't get the brunt of the demonstrations and the nightly sessions and caucuses that went on at A&T whereby as individuals talked and tried to rationalize this thing and tried to come up with ways of demonstrating the anguish and the disillusionment that they felt. I didn't get inculcated with 58:00that. So therefore, I tended to be more understanding, trying to make the friendships that I had developed work not revert and become a recluse and say, "Well, you know, I mean, I can see this happening to that man. I mean, why can't it happen to me?" And I knew that it could--I mean because there were some incidences that I ran into that were definitely racial in overtone. They had nothing to do with the campus. The fact that we had the little social area there on Tate Street--on many occasions when I would leave campus with friends and go to some of the coffee houses or little restaurants there--

CJ: The Corner [variety store on the corner of Walker Avenue and Tate Street].

CC: Yeah. The Corner. Right. I would encounter individuals who had no connection whatsoever with UNCG and there would be tense moments, sometimes things said of 59:00a racial nature. But as I said I felt that I had to deal with it because this was where I chose to go to school, and I couldn't walk--I didn't feel that I could walk away other than the fact that I didn't want to get into any kind of altercation. In most cases, it never came to that, but it was because, I guess, I didn't try to create a situation where I'm going to force you to either back down, or you're going to force me to back down. I would hear it, but I wouldn't recognize it or much less give credence to what was said. You can hear things and just continue to go on about your business. And generally, the anger, if 60:00there is anger, or the taunting will die down and you can get through the situation, relatively in a--without any outside intervention from what I would say the owners of the place or having the city police come in to diffuse the situation.

CJ: When you went to UNCG as a freshman, what did you expect of the school? What did you expect to get from the school and did you get what you expected to get? I know that's a tough question, but--[both laugh]

CC: That's a tough question. I think that I did. Back to when I decided to go there, I made the decision to accept the challenge of being--filling the role of 61:00a minority student that UNCG was seeking. As I said, I had opportunity to go to some other schools, one on a basketball scholarship. Well, I decided that basketball was not going to be the avenue that I would make my economic living in. And so--

CJ: Most people don't.

CC: Right. Don't. [laughs] But I knew that by going to UNCG that they did not have any athletic programs, so I knew that I was going to have to change my focus.

CJ: That was a big sacrifice.

CC: That was a big--yeah. That was a big sacrifice in that respect because I really enjoyed the game. But making the decision to go to UNCG, I really at that point didn't know what I wanted to major in, other than I was fairly decent in math, and I figured that math might be the area that I wanted to concentrate in. But as I said, it comes with so many prerequisites, my high school did not have some of the prerequisites for a math major and I didn't want to prolong four years to get those prerequisites, so I decided to change over. But I basically 62:00began to look at UNCG as a chance to get a good education because I heard from everybody that I talked to that they had a great academic reputation and that with the education that I could possibly do whatever I wanted to. I mean, I didn't know what that meant to me at the time, but I looked at it that way. The experiences and exposures that I got, I think, stood me real well in going out into what I consider the real world. Because a university situation is a closed 63:00situation. And that had proved to be for me too. And I had no idea what it meant to go to work every day. But coming out of UNCG and having gone through a maturation process in learning how to deal with people of all genders, nationalities, because we had foreign students there, color, economic level. I mean, there were kids that were from ultra-rich families. There were kids that were from poor families there, as myself.

CJ: Faith, too? Was there a wide range of faiths?

CC: Wide range of faiths, etcetera. The exposure, I think, molded my attitudes as I went into the work world, so I've always felt like that that was one of the biggest benefits. I wasn't all that happy sometimes with the grades that I got, but I realized that a lot of it had to do with the fact that in certain situations I felt like there was a little bit of discrimination. In other situations, I probably didn't apply myself as well as I should have. So it was a 64:00conglomeration of all of those things, but the educational experience in itself--you know, I've thought about it since I've been out. I would do it over again under the same circumstances. The only true disadvantage that I felt like I missed by going to UNCG was the fact that currently, in the work world that I'm currently in, I do not have what I consider to be a mentor, per se. I don't have contacts that I can fall back on in situations where I should--well, I do now because I've developed them in the work world. But coming out of college, if you're in a fraternity or if you--you know, you have a group of friends that go 65:00out into the work world, sometimes you can use them as contacts to get into an environment and then you have to prove yourself there. From that standpoint, I didn't have that and I kind of missed that, but it hadn't proved to be a major disadvantage because I figure that every individual has to stand on his own merits. And I've always looked at it that way. And the educational experience I, you know, I would hold second to none. And people that I've met and talked with and the various universities that they have been to, I can say that the education coming out of UNCG compares to any--to anybody.


CJ: That's quite a tribute. Well, you just answered my next question which was going to be about mentors and role models and stuff, and I suspected that there weren't real many on the campus.

CC: No. There weren't. [both laugh]

CJ: For you, anyway. And I--well--I forgot my train of thought. [laughs] Oh. Okay, I know what it was. I wanted to reverse that previous question I asked you and ask you what you think the university expected of students?

CC: Now that's a sixty-four thousand dollar question.

CJ: Okay. And--excuse me.

CC: In that there were recruit--

CJ: I'm sorry. A tag to that question--what did the university expect of students and how did you find out what it expected?

CC: That I'm not really sure, but I began to question--the university had made a commitment to go coeducational and from a male standpoint, I think they were interested in males that would come in and meet the challenge of the curriculum 67:00that they had in place, knowing at that time that it was rated very highly. That they were probably very selective in the males that they took in in my freshman year. And as I said, I can pretty much attest to that fact by the individuals that I met and what I learned of them as time went by. So they were very selective. I wasn't asked other than the fact that somebody felt like I had at least the credentials to survive in the school. I didn't have what I would consider a--and I don't want to say a mentor, but someone who followed my 68:00progress and advised me that maybe you're making a bad choice by going this route versus going another route. I think you were pretty much left to your own wiles as to which direction that you wanted to go in, but once you made that choice, if you talked with someone, then they would help you to make the right choices along those directions. Were they interested in our survival in the school? I think that they were. I don't know of any special efforts that were made to make sure that, you know, that the retention rate stayed high, but if you showed the initiative to do the work and you had problems that, you know, that you were guided toward someone that could give you some assistance if you searched for it. And I think that they were just looking for the males that came in to help to make that transition from an all-female campus to a coed campus. And I hope and I think that time will prove that our group that went through 69:00initially began to set the groundwork for those that came after and began to make it a true cosmopolitan university.

CJ: I have no doubt of that. That just about covers the agenda I had in mind. Are there any outstanding memories or anecdotes that you want to be sure to say?

CC: Not really. I'd just like to sum up the experience in saying that for me it was an adventure into the unknown. I came through an all-black environment. I had very minimal contact with whites in my community and from a day to day--on a 70:00day to day basis. When I went into UNCG, all of that changed. And it meant making adjustments in my attitude, my lifestyle, my ambitions, etcetera. To say that it was always pleasant, I can't say that. To say that I was misled and disillusioned, I won't say that either. It was, to me, a great adventure, as I 71:00said. If I had it to do over again, I would. I would probably do a few things differently, but just the overall experience I wouldn't trade anything in the world for.

CJ: You've left me kind of speechless. I'd think we better quit. [both laugh] It took extraordinary commitment to do what you did, and I'm very glad you did it. [laughs]

CC: It's been my pleasure. I was like--as I told you, I was apprehensive.

CJ: I mean about going to UNCG. [both laugh]

CC: Oh, going to UNCG. [laughs]

CJ: This too.

CC: I imagine that it did, and it was really my own decision. As I said, no one--not any of my guidance counselors, not my parents--they didn't guide me in that direction. They told me to make the decision because it would be one that I had to live in and to survive in. I really didn't know what to expect. By 72:00knowing that--they never had males there before and no black males for a fact. So it was, as I said, something that I challenged myself to see if I could perform in that particular environment.

CJ: And you did.

CC: Well, I made it. [laughs]

CJ: It is like an adventure because it's an unknown land, and it's something nobody can prepare you for. There are no guidebooks. There are no--

CC: No. There were no guidebooks. [both laugh]

CJ: Well, Mr. Cole, this has been my pleasure, and I appreciate it very much.

CC: Well, Cheri, again, I--you've made me feel very at ease and--. I'm not going to say that you led me, but at least you gave continuity--you kept continuity in our talk and I really appreciate that. And as you said, sometimes memories do come back when someone just kind of jars your memory a little bit.


CJ: Yeah. Well, thank you.

CC: You're welcome.

[End of Interview]