Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall

Floyd McKissick on experiences of first Black students at UNC-Chapel Hill

Excerpt Description: Floyd McKissick describes the treatment from white students he experienced as one of the first Black students to live on the campus.

Interviewee Name: Floyd McKissick

Interviewer: Bruce Kalk

Excerpt Transcript: “I think when those who were first—I was not the only one—sure I was the first one in a sense, but there were others during this summer session. This was the only session where there were Blacks. And with me during that time I think was Lassiter taking that class, and there was another class in which another Black was in. I think the one—the mess hall, not the mess hall–it was Lenoir Dining Hall had received its first black and then it was over with. I think they have to go through the first Black syndrome. It’s a syndrome for white people—“have you ever seen a Black eat?” They think all kinds of things. I think all these stereotypes are thrown out the window after they undergo their experience with the first Black and being associated with them. So I think those of us who went there first cleared up the minds of whites more than those of Blacks. There were few Blacks coming in after that, but relatively few were coming in but the door had been made easier for them to come because they would now longer create the emphasis around sometimes you found it difficult to study. It did take people who were really ready to fight who went there first because they had to make the course and couldn’t let things get tracked from it. And there was enough distraction on the basis of race and what people would say. And some of the authorities wouldn’t try to help you out. And maybe one professor would be nice and speak, but a lot of them would not speak, for fear of get peer approval, you see.”

Excerpt Length: 2:04

Interview Date: 5/31/1989

Interview Location: Unknown

Campus Space: Lenoir Hall and Manning Hall

Citation: Interview with Floyd McKissick by Bruce Kalk, 31 May 1989, L-0040 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.