South Campus

Walter Jackson on a love-hate relationship with UNC-Chapel Hill

Excerpt Description: Walter Jackson expresses the feeling that many of the first Black students at UNC-Chapel Hill still hold a love-hate relationship with the University, having fought racism and discrimination and having pride in their lives and career successes after leaving Chapel Hill.

Interviewee Name: Walter Jackson

Interviewer: Devin Holman, Monique LaBorde

Excerpt Transcript: “The only last thought I think I have is to express the idea that with regard to myself, and my generation of African-American students at Chapel Hill, I think all of us had struggles of one kind of or another here. We fought racism and discrimination, and prejudice, and people having a dim view of us and feeling that we shouldn’t be here. And for some of us, that was devastating; and there were some who dropped out, perhaps suffered emotional damage; some of whom still bear major animosity towards the university for that. But at the same time, there were those of us who came through quite well. One of my undergraduate African-American classmates, Mel Watt, went on to become a U.S. Congressman. Another African-American student who entered the university the year after me went on to become chancellor of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Others achieved success in fields like law and medicine. One became an admiral in the Navy. And others, again, success in arenas like the private sector, becoming presidents or vice presidents of financial institutions or whatever. So it was a range of effects of being here at Chapel Hill.
Some, to this day, still have, as I think I said, great animosity towards the university. And others, I think, almost universally if you ask us: “Do you regret having gone to Chapel Hill?” We would almost all say, “No, I’m very happy and proud that I did.” But for some, like me, over the years, there’s been a love-hate relationship with the university. Now both those terms may be too strong, but there are still some negative feelings, because of some of the things that we experienced here, though long ago. But at the same time, there’s a love of the university, a loyalty to the university, a hatred of Duke, and a good feeling about having been a part, having this university, having been a part of our lives, and a pride and affection, mixed with some other emotions for our association with Carolina.”

Excerpt Length: 3:15

Interview Date: 11/23/2015

Interview Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Campus Space: South Campus

Citation: Interview with Walter Jackson by Monique LaBorde and Devin Holman, 23 November 2015, N-0039 in the Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007), Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.