Today we begin our series, “August 1963,” a look at North Carolina at the time of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This week marks the 50th anniversary of the march, and producer Alexander Stephens asked North Carolinians to think back to August of ‘63.
My name is Carrie Farrington. In August of 1963, I was a rising seventh grader at Chapel Hill Junior High School.
My mom was very active…when we did the walks, you know, trying to integrate. And so I did do that with her. You know, a lot of sit-ins and stuff like that. My brothers and I, we all did that. So you know, I felt like it was time for a change.
I wanted to do something different rather than going to an all-black school, so I decided to apply for Chapel Hill Junior High School. We all sort of stuck together because there wasn’t that many of us. And then there was this group of white kids who constantly followed us in the hallways, at lunchtime we could be eating, they would be there calling us names. I mean, you know, calling you niggers. And I mean the way people were brought…the way whites and blacks were brought up is that white people thought that I guess all black people were dumb—didn’t know anything. You had to really show them that you fit in. You really had to act like you were smart and that you were able to fit in with them.
I felt like I missed out a lot because we had Lincoln High School. We’d cut class to go down to Lincoln High School, especially when they had May Day. ‘Cause May Day was always a big thing at Lincoln High School, especially when they wrapped the pole—it was so pretty. And we always heard about the fun things they had at Lincoln High School, the things they did, and I just knew by going to Chapel Hill Junior High that I missed out a lot. You know, being around my people.
You know, I was able to still go to school and get an education. Even though I got the insults, I didn’t let that stop me from doing what I went there to do.
Carrie Farrington lives in Graham, North Carolina. She retired from UNC Hospitals after 27 years and now spends many of her days working at the PTA Thrift Shop in Carrboro. Her grandchildren attend Chapel Hill public schools.