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Interview with John Lafferty

Lafferty, John
Stickel, Lois; Sanders,Bridgette
Date of Interview: 
October 11, 2004
Black Student Union, UNC-Charlotte, Bonnie Cone, early UNCC black athletes
John Lafferty speaks about his years as a student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte during the 1960s, focusing on his relationship with Bonnie Cone, and his observations of how UNCC developed as a university. He discusses the activities of the black students in the 1960's, from the athletic department to radical political ideas.
Charlotte, NC; 1960s
Interview Setting: 
Room 130 Atkins Library
Oral History, UNC Charlotte Civil Rights Series
Interview Audio: 
BS (Bridgette Sanders): A, today is the evening of October the 11th, the year is 2004. This is Bridgette Sanders, the co-interviewer. Also here with Lois Stickell, the co-interviewer. And we're here today with John Lafferty from Lincolnton, North Carolina. We're conducting this interview for Atkins Library located in UNC Charlotte. Mr. Lafferty, please tell me your full name.
JL (John Lafferty): John Oaden Lafferty, Jr.
BS: Thank you.
LS (Lois Stickell): I'm not going to be quite that formal.
LS: What year did you start at UNC Charlotte?
JL: I began in the fall of nineteen sixty six. As a sophomore.
LS: Oh. And what were your first impressions of the campus?
JL: I don't remember that I had a first impression.
LS: Oh, OK.
JL: I remember coming out for orientation. Because I was getting oriented I was thrown in with the freshman, I was a sophomore. Most everybody was starting somewhere else when I was here.
LS: Did you live on campus?
JL: No, there wasn't anywhere to live on campus.
LS: There wasn't a dorm?
JL: No, there were no dorms. There was no where to live on campus. There's only one shower on campus and that was for employees of the Union at the back of the Bonnie Cone Center, well it wasn't the Bonnie Cone Center it was the Union then. And a, I sort of co-opted that when I ran cross country and track because it was the only shower out here. But it was, but it was for employees of the Union and I was one of those, too. But it was a pretty small place at that time. And it was entirely a commuter campus. So I was sort of thrown in with people who were freshman, initially, just because that's who I met.
LS: But they built a dorm?
JL: While I was here.--
LS: While you were here.
JL: The dorm opened. I graduated in 1969. And the dorm opened for students in the fall of 1970. The only time I ever was in the dorm was Bonnie Cone and I rode up the construction elevator on the outside and she showed me the dorm. And that would have been in the early spring, late winter of'69.
LS: OK. And a, we were talking a moment ago you mentioned Vietnam. The, it was a pretty turbulent time.
JL: Oh absolutely. The a, '60s were very, very turbulent. The big buildup, of course, in Vietnam occurred as affected people I knew was really about '65, and [cough] the draft became ever present then. Before then, you looked forward to getting your draft card, but after that it wasn't quite as attractive as it had been, and a if you weren't, if you didn't have your student deferment, then, then you were 1-A and likely to be drafted . Lots of folks who got drafted, there were a lot of people who joined the service, joined the Navy because they didn't want to get drafted. Which was not always a good idea because the Navymedics became, served with the Marines in the field. So, so those people ended up as medics in the field with the Marines. So.--
LS: A.--
JL: So, that was going on. [coughs] And then '68 was, of course, the election. A, Eugene McCarthy ran for president and defeated Lyndon Johnson in the New Hampshire primaries. Lyndon Johnson subsequently announced he wasn't going to run, which then threw that race wide open. A, I think Bobby Kennedy came into the race after that. And a, --
[cough] JL: A, and of course Hubert Humphrey began to run then and so. All of that was going on, where you had essentially a president unseated by his own party, which was pretty unusual. A, so all of that was going on. And then in addition to that you had a, a you had the civil rights movement, it was running full steam ahead. I'm trying to remember of when, of course, Martin Luther King was killed in Memphis in '68, I remember when the marches of Montgomery were. I went to high school in Chattanooga, Tennessee. I remember the bombing in Birmingham, which would have been, I can't remember when did that occurred.
LS: '65?
JL: I think it was before that. I think it was '63, along in there. It was while I was in high school, [coughs] and then you had the, the bus riders being killed down in Mississippi and a so, you had all of that going on. And so Martin Luther King had become very active in protesting the war because the burden of fighting the war principally fell on young black men who weren't in college. They were the ones getting drafted and they were getting sent out straight to Vietnam. There's an interesting book written by Alan Stoudemire called Guest at the Table. Alan's from Lincolnton, I knew his dad. I never knew Alan, but his dad was an agricultural agent from Lincoln County. He grew up in Lincoln County and where his parents lived right behind them, was an area known as Georgetown which was a large black housing area. And so he just crossed the creek so he grew up very close friends with this black family that lived right behind them. He had, he ended up as a psychiatrist on the faculty at Emory. And died about two or three years ago, had cancer or . And then his really good friend had Lou Gehrig's (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS) disease and died shortly before he did, but he wrote a book about that experience. And I remember, of course, he's maybe a year or two not too much younger then I am, but a he a, in the book he talks about the fact that he was in college, all the people he went to Lincolnton High School, and he was there during the--. Part of, a lot of the book is about the integration of Lincolnton High School and that he knew these kids and through them he went to people who were on the football team, he played football, and said 'we're not going to have any trouble. This is just not going to happen.' And so when they, when they, black students arrived for the first time and a redneck raised up, then the football team sort of stepped in and said this ain't going to happen here. And enforced that. And the book is about that experience largely. But in the book, I sort of digressed here, in the book talks about the fact that the number of young kids out of that Georgetown neighborhood getting sent to and killed in Vietnam. That it was a disproportionate level compared to the white kids he'd gone to Lincolnton High School with. Because they came right out of high school and got drafted. You know so, I digress. [laughs]
LS: You mentioned race though, and when you got to campus.
JL: [coughs]
LS: How, what happened?
JL: Well let me put all that in context of where I grew up.
JL: I grew up in Charlotte. My dad was a doctor, my grandfather was a doctor. I grew up right off Providence Road. I went to prep school, I never had been to school with black people at all in my life. My exposure to black people was we had a maid, in fact we had two maids, one during the week and on the weekends. Had a yardman, both of my grandmothers had maids, both of them had yardmen. And so I grew up, that was my exposure to black people. Now, we were very close to the folks, because when we went to the beach the person who I went fishing and crabbing with was the maid that went with us. There's a, home videos of me sitting out on Windy Hill Beach playing with two black children, little bit younger then I was. They were the children of the maid that had gone to the beach with us. Now, that would have been absolutely impermissible if they had just come down to play on the beach. Because at that time, Atlantic Beach in South Carolina was a beach that was reserved for black participation and there were no black people at Windy Hill Beach which was separated by from the Atlantic Beach by a fence. And that was it, I mean just boom, right there. And so a, but there're videos of me playing on the beach. You know Harry Golden wrote, you know, I don't know whether you've ever read his Vertical Integration Plan and in another part of that same article he talks about the borrowed white baby plan. So I grew up in this era where there were separate movie houses. In Charlotte I don't even recall that there were balconies that, they were entirely separate. Now Lincolnton when I moved up there, the balcony still was there. In fact I have a photograph I took of it before they tore that down of the old arrow painted on the back that said "colored balcony". Big white arrow. And a, even when I moved to Lincolnton, that was a real cultural shock to me from Lincolnton to Chapel Hill. But when I moved to Lincolnton, somebody came into, what's the name of that? Mel's Diner? It wasn't Mel's Diner, that was a TV show. [Name of diner is Harolds Diner] The fellow that ran the dinner over there. If somebody black came, they've could have gone in and eaten at that point because that was 1972. But if they came there, they always came to the back door. And they would stand there and he would fix whatever they wanted, then they would go out to the ally and eat it. That was the way those people lived all of their lives and they weren't going to change. A, that was just the way it is. And even now I still see some of them that come to the back door of City Lunch. I mean where not talking fine dining, but we are talking decent hotdogs. I mean where else can you get two hotdogs and a coke for a dollar and a half for lunch? So, [laughs] But anyway, that's where I grew up with separate water fountains, separate, you know, even now there's a, what's the name Texaco, not Texaco, it's a BP station now--Don's BP. If you go to the back of Don's BP there're three bathroom doors. And, as there were on all filling stations then, there was white-there were men, women, and colored. That's they way they were identified. And, and the bathroom that was reserved for black people there was just one for both men and women. So I grew up in that environment. With, with, we had a maid who came every day, fixed breakfast before I went to school. When I was younger before they changed the time the buses ran. She fixed dinner, and served dinner, and cleaned up after dinner before she got on the bus and went home. A, a they lived. Mary who was a maid for years, I can't remember what Mary's last name was, but lived down in Brooklyn. And I can remember driving down there with my dad. It was just horrible what I remember. I mean it was, it was--. As matter of fact, I wrote a paper while I was at UNCC it was a comparative study of Brooklyn and another neighborhood ( ) but it was right after it had been torn down so I sort of captured that in the paper. I guess maybe I didn't. Anyway, so I grew up in that era. A, I had never been to school with anybody black in my life. A, in fact when I was at McCallie School, the headmaster there stood up on stage one day and said, "McCallie is a school for Southern boys, white Southern boys." Now, McCallie School was not an overtly racist kind of place but that was just a fact of life, in fact, there's a book that a reporter for the Chattanooga newspaper has written called Contempt of Court about the lynching of a young black man that occurred in Chattanooga in the early '20s, I believe. A, he was charged with raping a white woman, young white girl. The trial took place within two weeks after was arrested. The fellow who, he had a court appointed lawyer of sorts who was an old, drunk, white guy. They a, they a tried the case. A young black lawyer had just moved to Chattanooga at that time. Took the case on appeal and went to the United States Supreme Court, first case he'd ever taken. His first case went to United States Supreme Court. United States Supreme Court issued a stay of execution. And the sheriff and a lot of the power elite in Chattanooga said the Supreme Court can come down here and enforce it. And that night there were no deputies at the jail, people broke in, took him out, hung him from the a, Walnut Street Bridge there in Chattanooga. A, and the Supreme Court subsequently tried those people for contempt of court. It was the only trial that the Supreme Court has ever actually tried and convicted a number of them of contempt of court. That's, during that trial this young black lawyer's office and home got fire bombed and Dr. McCallie, who was one of the founders of the school I was talking about, the school for Southern boys, white Southern boys, took his family in and sheltered them in his home on Missionary Ridge, so. So when I tell that story. It was not an overtly racist place, that was just the way things were. So. A. My first year out of high school, I went to work at the AP. The AP I went to work at was the one a, at the corner of Providence Road and Queen's Road. Across the street from Myers Park.--
LS: Harris Teeter now.--
JL: Yeah. A, that was the second highest volume store in the AandP chain when I worked there. And it was also the second smallest store they had so we spent all of our time stocking shelves. The, when I went to work there, there were. You're getting all kind of stuff you didn't really want to know, aren't you?
LS: No, this is good.
JL: When I went to work there, there were two black employees. And they both were bag boys. That's what black employees could do. While I was there, they hired in the fall, I went to work in the summer, they hired in the fall, a distributive education student who was a young black male, he was a distributive education student at Myers Park High School. His name was Cliff, and I can not remember his last name. And that was the, they hired him specifically to be a checker, because they had never had a black checker at the A and P or any of the grocery stores in that area. See you have to remember that this is the era that this is all going on. And a, the DE, distributive of education, teacher at Myers Park as I recall, then was Chuck Richard who later bought Reid's Grocery Store, and that's what he runs now, so that may be what you're familiar with.
LS: What's distributive education?
JL: It was a work program where a young person in high school would go to school part of the day and then get out of school and work part of the day. And would get credit for what a, they had some, they've had some similar type programs off and on in the Lincoln county school system and I've hired people. Their grade was dependent on how they did in the work place. So anyway. Cliff came in and worked. And a, a, I can remember a, people coming through the line and they'd walk up there and he'd be checking. And I'd have them come over to my line a, and they would come through and say. And they would say, and take this into context of then, "I'm not letting no Nigger check my groceries." And I knew, 'cause I used to drive him home at night. He lived there off of South Boulevard. That area of town across from, what's the place with all the antiques in there? South End Brewery.
LS: South End.
JL: Yeah, he lived kind of back over in there. I used to take him home because he didn't have any way to get home at night except to walk. He was a, he was an excellent employee and a great checker. And I would actually say 'You know, Cliff actually makes fewer mistakes then the rest of us here. But you don't want him to check you, I'll be glad to check you.' So anyway, that was the first time I'd ever work with anybody black. Other then have them working for me, you know, even though I was a child. So, I had that experience. I'd gone my first year at Central Piedmont. And I'm sure there were some black students there, but my experience with Central Piedmont was to go to class, do my work, get my grades, a, and go to work, study, go back to class. So I really had no life at Central Piedmont other than to just to go to class. So then I came back here and a, and this was really the first time I had gone to school with black students. So I, I don't know whether you want to jump in and ask a question about where that goes from there or?
LS: Well, no. About the time that you came here, things were probably pretty calm. When did the black activism become more apparent?
JL: That was really interesting and a, a, the way that sort of changed over [cough]. A, I'll sort of give you a stream of conscious, because after you called and told me what you were talking about [cough]. You put this all in the context of Vietnam going on, the Chicago conventions in '68, there was sort of radicalism in the air. When I first got here, that wasn't the way it was. Now I ran cross-country, and we didn't have any black kids who ran cross-country. But then I ran track in the Spring of '67, that's where I guess you came up with these pictures. And that was an interesting story. A, we'd had a cross-country team and finished, as I recall, second. But it may, may have been third. But we finished in the second or third of the conference. That was the first time there'd ever been a cross-country team. There were no athletic facilities here, there was no track down here, and there was no cross country course here. There were no, as I told you earlier, there's only one shower on campus and that was for employees of the Union. And I used to work at the Union. [coughs] I don't know wither ya'll ever knew Gladie and Sadie who used to work in the, Union. Gladie was the custodian, and Sadie worked for the kitchen. I worked for Gladie. He and I built a lot of furniture. Waxed floors and painted walls. Just generally did whatever needed to be done. Anyway, there was that one shower. And that was it. And so if you wanted to work out, we could go over to Garinger's track and use it in the fall. And we had done well, and what had happened is that people had come out for that cross-country team. I think Harvey Murphy, who was the basketball coach, intended the cross-country team to be early practice for his basketball players. And this was before real basketball, well I won't say that, because we had Ben Basinger who was a real basketball player and who ended up being very good basketball players and really a foundation that took that program up to the beginning of the next level. But a, the people who came out for that first cross-country team, were a, Larry McAfee, who had run in high school. Mike Ridge who had run in high school. I'd run cross-country in high school. Bill Bumgardner had run in high school. Couple of other folks that I can't really remember. I don't know if whether any of these folks. Larry's picture is in here, a, yeah. Frank Cole, no not Frank Cole. Yeah, Frank Cole. No, Frank Sassan. Frank Sassan had run some. And then Larry ended up coaching the cross-country track team at East Mecklenburg. He's retired now, but when he retired he had a record that was the most successful coach in North Carolina high school history, great coach. A, Mike Ridge is with one of the private Lutheran schools here. He does a lot of youth work. But anyway, those were. We were serving as the core of that cross country team, somebody else, Woody Frick ran and ended up being a Lutheran minister. A. But anyway, I digress.
LS: No, ( ).
JL: In the spring, we went to Coach Murphy and said we want to have a track team. And he said, we don't have a coach, we don't have a track, we haven't got anything. We don't have it in the budget. There's just, we said if we can find somebody to coach us, will you let us have a track team? And finally he said that yeah he'd do that. Brent Steele was the director of the union, had absolutely no background in track. Didn't know a thing about track. We had to teach him how to operate a stop watch. We couldn't use the Garinger track because their kids, their team, was using the Garinger track. A, but Brent said, yeah I'll be your coach. And UNCC was a simpler, quieter, kinder place then. We had a, there were less then two thousand students here. My class was the first class that had over two hundred people graduate. And while I was here, I think it was either my, I think it was my junior year, the student body finally went over two thousand. So, a. All the courses I had were largely taught as seminars. It was a really intense and a great place. I mean, it was, it was, as good an education as could be had in North Carolina, Davidson, Wake Forest, and Duke. Because we had these really bright, young faculty members that had been brought in. Everything was gearing up for about five to six thousand students. And we came in right at the beginning of that with all of that new faculty, all those new buildings, a, all these new programs and so. And most of your courses they were like a small seminar with a PhD, with some new, young, freshly-minted PhD, a, you know, still academically vigorous. Well, everybody I've had was academically vigorous. But it was just a great place to be. But also friendships that we could have, you know. Because people like John Robbins wasn't too much older then I was. And, and, he would, he would take his class and we would all go to Herlocker's [restaurant] for class or after class. And then, of course, students could lawfully drink beer then and it wasn't such an issue then. So we would do that up, we would, all frequently went to parties that were at Brent Steele's house, or John Robbin's house. My, when I was a senior, all of the senior history majors met every Sunday night at Dan Morrill's house he was living in, for just a round table discussion. That began because he had to miss a class, he said 'we'll make up, ya'll come to my house Sunday night. My wife's a good cook .' And we all showed up, and his wife was a good cook. And he sort of led us through this free ranging discussion, and we ended up doing that every night for the rest of the year, every Sunday night for the rest of the year. We'd spend more time preparing then. LS: I wonder if he still does that?
JL: Probably not.
LS: Probably not.
JL: We would spend more time preparing for those discussions, because he would sort of threaten us with what we were going to talk about. I would say a very intense. Law school was a real disappointment to me after that. It really was. Because this was so challenging, and you got to know you're professors so well. And so, anyway. We went to Brent Steele and said 'would you coach our team?' And he said he would. [He] made arrangements for us to go out to Ranson Junior High School and use their track, which was just red clay. And we started out there in early January. And it was cold and frozen. And Brent Steele came to practice every day. And that track team, which had begun small, grew. And a, and, among the people who came out there, and this is kind of ( ), Ben Chavis was there, he ran. He ran the hundred yard dash. Maurice McCletty [interviewee unsure of spelling] did the, I think he did the triple jump, I know he did the broad jump and then he ran the second leg of the mile relay team. We had a mile relay team that was conference champion every year and was undefeated except for one meet when we dropped from the baton. I mean [snaps fingers] we were tough.
LS: [laughs]
JL: Larry McAfee ran the first leg, Maurice ran the second leg, I ran the anchor leg. And I can't remember who ran after that. I'm embarrassed I can't remember that. A.
LS: Let me rewind to, you said Ben Chavis.
JL: He ran the hundred yard dash.
LS: Was that his first semester? Was he a student here?
JL: I don't know remember when . I don't know remember when he arrived. That's when I met him. That's when I got to know him.
LS: OK. Was he friendly?
JL: Oh yeah.
LS: Was he?
JL: Absolutely. I a. And, anyway. Harold Cohen threw the shot put. A, let's see. Who else was there? Charlie Parker. I don't really remember what Charlie did. A. T.J. Reddy, and I can't remember what T.J. did. I'm not sure, I'm embarrassed I can't remember all this. Anyway, those are the people that I remember. [coughs] At that time, we became-- this was in '67. Ben Chavis was a chemistry major then. I think he planned to be premed. He lived out here somewhere I think over in University Park area. I recall that he was married, had two young children, had a house with a pool table in the basement. And if you look at the pictures of him here. I was looking at this. [sound of pages being moved] This is not young man dressed as a writer. He's wearing a really nice looking sport coat, and a,
LS: Here's the radical.
[sound of microphone being moved] JL: There's the radical.
[laughter] JL: Trying to grow a mustache unsuccessfully.
LS: He had two kids?
JL: Yeah.
LS: He was not just out of high school?
JL: No, no, no, no. As I recall, what I, and I never met anybody, I just remember what he said, and. But I recall that his parents were both on faculty, were faculty members like at Saint Augustine College in Raleigh. That he was from around there somewhere.
LS: Actually, his mother was a teacher at an orphanage.
JL: Well, maybe that was it. I just remember that he came in. His parents were educated.
LS: He went to Saint Augustine's for like a.--
JL: Yeah.--
LS: year.
JL: Maybe he came from there. Anyway, we had that track team. We began to, I mean they cobbled together a, a schedule for us. Because you know, we were just the new kids on the block. And a, so. We would get out there and practice. We would go to track meets. And that was interesting, because a lot of times I would drive. We would get the school car and I would drive. We didn't have enough coaches to drive. And I would drive one of the cars, and I can remember coming back there, there are a couple track stories I remember. And I'll try to remember them more or less in sequence. A, we ran the Davidson freshmen, and we beat the Davidson freshmen. And that was a big day. Somewhere in the annual there's a picture of us all standing around celebrating beating the Davidson freshmen.
LS: [cough]
JL: And this is in the spring of '67. A, we ran, we went and ran in the a, they had relays at Johnson C. Smith. And we went over there and, I can't remember if that was in the spring of '67 or spring of '68. I don't remember. I don't remember. I know we ran over there one of those years. And colleges that were there. I mean I'm a small, white guy from the South. I'm over there at Johnson C. Smith, Saint Augustine's, Bennett, We never ran against Bennett-that's a women's college. Not Bennett.
LS: ()
JL: Livingston maybe? What's Orangeburg State down here?
LS: South Carolina.
JL: South Carolina State in Orangeburg. Every college that was there was black. Except for UNCC, and half of our team was black. And so there we were. So. It was an interesting experience for me. It was one of the first times in my life where I ever was in the position where I was a minority.
LS: How's that feel?
JL: Yeah, I mean it was a real interesting experience. But our team was very close. We were very close to each other and supported each other. That may have been '68 because I ran a quarter mile in that year. And I wouldn't have run the quarter mile except because the only time I ever competitively ran the quarter mile was at the end of '67. I ran the quarter mile and this fellow just blew me away, just blew me away. Vince Matthews. Vince Matthews also won the gold medal in the Olympics in '68 in Mexico City, so I didn't feel quite so bad about getting blown away by Vince Matthews. But anyway, back to '68, I move ahead. We were still playing at that point. In '67 we went down and we ran a race, a, we were running the mile relay dowon at a Saint Andrews in Laurinburg. [coughs] And, and I think we were getting beat. And our mile relay came and Larry McAfee on the first leg finished about even with whoever it was that he was running against him. Maurice McCletty was the second one, and when he first did the hand off, I think, whoever it was from Saint Andrews took off and Maurice was kind of far back and somebody up in the stands stood up and hollered, "Look at that colored boy fold." And somebody lit afterburners under Maurice because he finished about twenty yards ahead of that guy. And anyway, I tell the story because from that point on, on the track team Maurice McCletty was known as the folding colored boy. It was a term of endearment. I mean it, you know, because that's, you know, after that experience where someone stood up and hollered that and then he just went on by this guy. That a, and we had a relationship where we could say that and, and he understood it as a term of endearment and we understood it that way. There wasn't anything derogatory at all meant in that, I mean, it was kind of a compliment you know.
LS: Mm-hum.
JL: And so from that point on he was known as the folding colored boy. A, and I haven't seen Maurice since we got out of school. A, I haven't, my brother ran into him one day, and he asked how I was but that's been thirty years ago. So. [laughs] Anyway, a, but a, anyway. We would go on these trips like that one to Saint Andrews, and I would drive the car. And we would be coming back, and coming back through Troy, or Wingate and there would be places where we would stop to get something to drink that we would not be served because we had blacks. So, and that was a different experience. To be on the receiving end of discrimination there. And that went on. But we were very close, you know, a track team. And we would have dances out here. Ben Chavis would teach me how to boo-ga-loo and shing-a-ling, and I still have no rhythm, I just have no rhythm. Did you see the movie Forrest Gump?
LS: Mm-hum.
JL: A, you remember the gospel choir in there?
LS: Mm-hum.
JL: The Hallelujah chorus. Well, they sang in Lincolnton. And when they came I was president of the cultural center, this is way away from, but anyway they came and they sang in Lincolnton. And a, when they came we split them all up and people kept them because there were a bunch of them and a, so a fellow and his little boy stayed with me. But anyway, I had to introduce them. Well, they got there and they're doing a song. And, and the women who is the director, and she's pretty apparent in the movie, if you go back and look at the movie again. They were getting ready to do something. And she called me, she said you come up here. I said you don't want me to do that. She said no come up here, she hands me a tambourine, she says now you do what we do. --
[laughter] JL: You do what we do. And hit this tambourine. So they start this song and few bars into it, she took that tambourine away, she said you go sit down white boy.
[laughter] JL: So, I have no sense of rhythm.
LS: Didn't make the cut, huh?
JL: But we were, we would have school dances then. And, and, and the, the, the black kids that were on the track team and the white kids would socialize with each other. A, and you know, like I say, Ben Chavis would teach me how to boo-ga-loo and shing-a-ling and, and.--
LS: Go ahead.
JL: Yeah. But we were close. There was a positive reaction.
LS: When he came to the dances, did his wife come?
JL: I don't remember who.
LS: I mean were they placed as a couple?
JL: Came with him, I don't know. I remember him, I don't remember who he was with.
JL: Nobody that I was in college with is married to the same person they were married to when I was in college, so, it's hard for me to keep up with all of that.--
LS: [laughs]
JL: I mean absolutely nobody that was married to somebody in college is still married to the same person, so. Don't get married in college.
LS: OK. Well, you're too late, but OK.
JL: Anyways. A, anyways. So we had that. We ended up at the end of the season and, and we finished, like I said, second or third in the conference. And we brought back trophies and medals and nobody had ever brought back anything athletic back to UNCC. And they put them in a big display case in front of the Union, a, it helped that I was sports editor for The Carolina Journal because that, so, we got, in fact I wrote that article didn't I?
LS: Did you.--
JL: [laughs]--
LS: I didn't notice that.--
JL: Yeah, I did. It helped that I.--
LS: Well, I'm sure it's entirely accurate.
JL: I'm sure it is. A, The Charlotte Observer came out and wrote an article about us. See, we would go places we didn't have any hurdles to practice on. We went to Davidson relays and they said, when we did the Davidson freshman, they said time for the javelin, can we borrow you're javelin, we don't have a javelin.--
LS: [gasps]
JL: And so we did. Time for the triple jump. We had never seen a triple jump before. Ben Basinger said 'show me how to do this triple jump.' They said, well, it's a hop, skip and a jump. Ben is a natural athlete. So he went out and won it. But that was just the way we did things. We didn't have any equipment, I mean, we were, we were, you know, these were just work out t-shirts, we didn't have fancy uniforms and stuff, we were just there. But anyway, so we got through. And they had this, they had an article in it, it's in the, its in The Charlotte News, and it was right after the end of the season in '67. And Ms. Bonnie Cone took the entire track team out to the Pineville Dinner Theatre for dinner. And if I can find that photo album. I've got a picture of all of us on the little bus, short bus, you know, 'cause all we had was the little, short bus. And all of us on the short bus. And Ms. Bonnie, she took us all out there to the Pineville Dinner Theatre, and we all had dinner out there on her. And a, I think, that was sort of camaraderie. That went over into '68. And there was a change in the spring of '68. Now, going back, that's, you know, we still had the track team. The day after Martin Luther King was assassinated, we had a track meet in Saint Andrews. At Saint Andrews. And, we came back, and I drove Charlie Parker home to where he lived and somebody else. And Charlie lived down, downtown, kind of right on the edge of Earl Village. And then a friend of mine and I went on to a movie. Well, I got home and my mother was beside herself. I didn't know that a riot had begun that night. It was one of the riots that happened right after Martin Luther King was assassinated. The riot began right about the place that I let Charlie Parker off, but there wasn't a riot going on when we passed through. But I mean, you know. So, that's, you know, we were close enough that I didn't feel uncomfortable doing that. Charlie didn't feel uncomfortable asking me to give him a ride home, I just, you know, Charlie needs a ride home, I gave him a ride home. You know, no biggy. But that, that was the night we came back from the track meet at Saint Andrews. A, and that would have been in '68. I think probably the track meet over at Johnson C. Smith was in '68. A, at or about that time Ben formed Students for ACTION. And, which was a, it was a, it was a multi-racial group when he first found, formed it. And it's kind of interesting, I guess, I was the bastion of the establishment at that point. You know, I was the one who had been in office and all of that. And then so then he ran against me, and, and we were friends up until that point. But a, it wasn't a Black Power thing when it began. And a, and then he beat me in that election. And I mean, the basic issues there was I think my little campaign rhetoric said experience counts, and his said time for a new change. Which was not too unlike political advertising now. And a. LS: And you said, and I approve this message.
JL: [laughs] We didn't say that, but yeah, we didn't know to say that then, a. So, Ben had been instrumental in starting Students for a, Students for ACTION. And a, you know, I was not involved in that group. But I, there were, there were white students and black students in there. A, so it wasn't begun at that point as an overtly a, a Black Power thing or anything like that. A, he won that. And then I guess the next image I have is after he won we had a meeting of the, which is probably the best thing that ever happened to me. Because what that did was it freed me up to spend my senior year studying and getting into law school. So and I'd been busy doing all this other stuff. Because my senior year I did not run track, I didn't, the only thing I did was student court, and I only did that because they said this doesn't take time.--
[laughter] JL: And.--
LS: We have some pictures that might prove that wrong.
JL: I, well. That was kind of an interesting thing too. Yeah, a.--
LS: I'm sorry, go ahead.
JL: But anyway. A, the a, a.--
LS: Student for change.
JL: In the spring, the next well you know, after the election a. I remember that we were having a meeting of the Union Board and I can't remember if the new people and old people and all of that sort of stuff. And that occurred on the day after Bobby Kennedy was shot. And I think at that point he had not died, because I can remember Ben coming and he was distraught. He was really upset about it. About that. A, I remember a comment he made that the next president of the United States may be in a wheelchair. About Bobby Kennedy being shot. Well, we had that meeting, he came to that. [clears throat] And then it was shortly after that, I didn't see him all summer. I have no idea where he was. But I mean up through that point, a, that's the way I remember it being. You know, relatively short hair, sport coat, shirt, tie, that's the way I remember Ben up through that point. A, he was in, we took a class in, it was a political science class. And he came in, and okay, it was at the end of the summer. He came into class, and when he came into class, he was wearing, you know, a field jacket, carrying Chairman Mao's red book, had, had a wild afro, a, and. Have you ever read Tom Wolfe's Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.
LS: No.
JL: Oh you need to read that book, it's. That happened about this time. I've given you some good books to read here.
[laughs] LS: And we'll pull them off the tape.
JL: OK. Radical Chic was about the people like Leonard Bernstein having cocktail receptions to raise money for the Black Panther Party. Mau-Mau and the Flak Catchers was where, where a local activist would put on his biggest, baddest, dashiki and get his biggest, baddest afro and go down and harass the bureaucrats who he called flak catchers. So, Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers. And not, but that was written in this era, you know, 'cause then you had, you had the Black Panther party, Angela Davis, all of that was going on then. I don't know where Ben was over the summer but when he came back, he was radical. And I never had any relationship with him at all after that. He came, and I always felt that up until the election that we had been good friends. And I didn't feel alienated from him even after the election, you know. And, and but he came back and he was very Afro-centric at that point. You know, it's tough being, having white friends if you're Afro-centric. A, and so he came. A, T.J. Reddy was the same way. T.J. though, always was a little more on the art side. A, I didn't know T. J. as well. A, T. J. was married to a white woman at that point and a, I've since had T. J. He came up and did some stuff, I ran into him one day in Lincolnton, we brought him back up when he did, he did some talks and art projects in the schools during Black History month. And I've had him out to my house for dinner and taken him out to lunch. And got some of his art hanging in my office. He was a poet then, he wasn't an artist. But I can't remember whether it's something I heard or something I saw, but I can remember that, my memory is, is that he would bullet holes in the side of his car from people shooting at him while him and his wife be riding around. A, this is in '68. Now, I don't know that I ever saw that or whether somebody told me that. I don't know why I know that why I know that or why I remember that. Now, he may have a distinctly different background or memory of that, but anyway. And then he was a poet at that point, so he would do things with the literary magazine, and a, I really didn't know him as well as I knew Ben early on. A, the other person, a was, now, Ronald Caldwell was also there. Now he was a member of the Rotaract Club. Now you know that UNCC has the first Rotaract Club in the world. --
BS: I didn't know that.
JL: That's right. You know the Rotaract Club out here?--
BS: Mm-hum.
JL: That's the first one in the world. And if you get in touch with Rotary International and say where is Rotary Club number one, right here. And I was in it, Mike Ridge was in it and I can't remember all the other people who were in it but Ronald Caldwell was in it. And you know, he's a, he's a doctor up in Asheville. And I can sort of remember that Ronald had, Ronald a, sort of get pulled.--
JL: You know, I don't know what was going on in Ronald's head. Now he would have an interesting perspective on that, because obviously I was not being recruited to be a black activist. But he would have been under a lot of, I imagine, intense pressure. A, because he was in a class or two behind me. A, and I just remember him, I think I've talked to him on the phone since then. I know I have because called up there to Asheville for something and we had some span.
LS: He's the one who married the woman named Octavia?
JL: Yeah.
LS: OK. Yeah, they're still married.
JL: Yeah, they are but I don't think they were married when he was in college.
JL: So Ronald was in that, but that, and I just remember Ronald being a more serious student. A, I mean he was obviously studying 'cause he went to medical school. Something got him in there. And a, there was a another fellow who was there, on that track team, I mentioned Harold Pulley. And Harold was a large, black man. I mean, he was big. He was as big as anybody I ever saw that we got on an NFL football in Charlotte. And he worked himself through school and he was very pleasant. I mean being as large as he was he was very soft spoken. And, and he worked his way through school as a preacher in a Baptist church somewhere around here. And then after he graduated, a, he went into a seminary, got a theology degree, I presume he graduated. From Boston College, or Boston U, somewhere in Boston. And a, in the middle of all this was Ms. Bonnie Cone. You know, Ms. Bonnie back in the late '40s when she first started the Charlotte branch of University of North Carolina, would have school picnics and she had black students and white students and when she had a school picnic, everybody came. And Ms. Bonnie established that early on. And the last time I had dinner with Ms. Bonnie, my good friend Gladie, Sadie was doing the dinner and Gladie had been out there and they found out I was coming and see I worked for Gladie. We'd come out here to work over Christmas, you know, cause there wasn't anybody on campus and we could paint the buildings and stuff. I'm sure they don't do it like that anymore.
LS: They don't paint the buildings.
JL: But so, he and I would be the only two people on campus. So we got to go find something to eat, well, you couldn't go find anything for about five miles to eat anything for lunch. Everything there was, was shut down. Wasn't anything out here. You know we didn't even have water from the City of Charlotte out here then. That was a huge thing when they finally connected a rural line out here. If we ran out, we had to use paper plates in the cafeteria, and they put some big old water tanks out here right off of 49, which was a two-lane road. So this was an isolated place. You know, Dan Morrill always said that the reason that the silo was pretty fitting for some of the early students he had. You know, there was still a silo out of here.
[laughter] JL: A, and he'll probably have me to take that off the tape.
[laughter] JL: But anyway. A, Ms. Bonnie my senior year invited every senior to her home for dinner at some point during year. And if you had half a brain about you, you took her up on it. A, and, and I knew Ms. Bonnie from before I came out here because she was sitting in her office up in what used to be the L building, I can't remember what it's called now, but that was where the administration building was. In that quadrangle that was Winningham.--
BS: Macy.
JL: Macy and all that. And, that's where the administration building was. She sat there and said, "Young man, you're going to come to my college, you're going to graduate from my college." And I said, "Yes ma'am, Ms. Bonnie." --
[laughter] JL: She had known my grandfather. My grandfather had been an early supporter of hers when she first started the Charlotte Center. So she was on me. And so I'd been a rather indifferent high school student. "Young man you're going to come to my school and you're going to." And that was "my school." And I can remember many afternoons standing in the back of the Union. It really meant something to her that the Union was called the Cone Center. Because her love was students, her love of students, that was the students' building. Paid for by student money, used by the students. But I can remember her standing back there and she'd say, "Here's what we're going to do, we're going to have this over there, and we're going to have that there. And this is, and we're entitled to everything they have in Chapel Hill, we're entitled to everything they have at State, we're entitled to everything they have in Greensboro, we're entitled to have every bit of that here and we're going to have it and here's where this is going to be and here's where that's going to be." And you know all that stuff and more's out there. I can go out there and stand there and I just remember standing there with Ms. Bonnie and she was telling me what was going to be there. She was an incredible lady. And a.-- [clears throat]. She didn't, she invited everybody in the senior class to dinner at her house at least once during the year. So she knew students. Well that brings me back to Harold Pulley. I was telling you that story.-- [clears throat] He was getting ready to go to graduate school up in Boston, and I didn't hear this story from him. I heard it from Ms. Bonnie. A--[clears throat] she, she got a call from him one day about a week before he was supposed to go to law school. And he said, "Now, Ms. Bonnie", said, "I've got this big, gold tooth." He had this gold tooth. Said, "I've got this gold tooth." Said, "I'm really embarrassed about going up here to Boston with all these city people with this gold tooth." She said, "Well, see what we can do about that." She picked up the phone, she called her dentist. Now this is in 1969, 'cause Harold was in my class. And this is when you had black dentists and white dentists. And you didn't have black dentists working on white people, and you didn't have white dentists working on black people. And a, she called her dentist and said, "I've got a student here, we need to get this tooth fixed, we've got to get it done right away cause he's getting ready to go graduate school up there, up there in Boston." They said send him on over. So she sent Harold on over there. And see I remember when my dad had separate waiting rooms for his black patients and white patients. A, and then he never practiced after that change. So he didn't, he never practiced after about '66 or so. But anyway, so Harold went over there and got his new tooth and went on to Boston. But Ms. Bonnie would do stuff like that. Because I was getting ready to go to law school, I went out there one day and said, "Ms. Bonnie", so this is way off the subject here, said a, "Ms. Bonnie I'm getting ready to go to law school." And course first I got into.
LS: And I want a gold tooth.
JL: There you go. No, no. I said, "I don't have any money. My tuition is due, I don't have any money, I've been turned down for financial aide." She said, "Well, we'll see what we can do." She picked up her phone, I was sitting in her office over there in the administration building. And she said, "Bill, I've got a little problem here and I need. I got a student who's coming up there to your law school and he needs some financial aide." Well, you know who she was talking to? Bill Friday.
LS: Oh.
JL: "Bill, I got a little problem here, and a". Anyway, and lo and behold I had financial aide and I had the wherewithal to go to law school and I wouldn't have had it if she hadn't made that phone call.
LS: You're the third person that's.
JL: [clears throat]
LS: Brought her up in the context of something particular that she [beeping]. Go ahead, we close at eight tonight because of fall break.
JL: Oh, OK.
LS: But we can actually. Or at least I can stay past that.
JL: But anyway, so.
LS: If you want to check out books, you have to do it now. [laughs]
JL: But she would do stuff like that all the time. I mean it was incredible. "Bill, I got a little problem here." And boom, there it was. A, she, she absolutely took care of her students. She, you know, you've got her older students, people who were here back in the '50s and '40s and they're known as Bonnie's Boys. And they're known that way today even though they're seventy years old. A, and they were. They were very much. She didn't have any children of her own. She just had about twenty thousand of them who'd gone to her school.-- [laughs] A.--
LS: ( ).
JL: During that activism thing.-- [clears throat] And, you know, I wasn't running track, cross country in '68 and '69. I didn't do that. I wasn't on the Union, and I really did apply myself to studying. I did a lot of studying that year. Which was probably a good thing for me, I needed that.-- [coughs] And Ben had gotten, had gotten, well what had happened. I don't know what they called themselves, but there was sort of a Black Power party on campus. And you may have heard the story about the time that Stokley Carmichael was invited to come and speak in the.--
LS: Mm-hum.
JL: We called it the Parquet room. No, that was a different incident.--
LS: No, oh?
JL: [coughs] No, this was an entirely different incident. A, the incident where we tried Ben was just a meeting of Students for ACTION or whatever the group, I don't even remember the name of the group. Where they just went in and used a room. A, well I'll tell you what I know about that and then I'll tell you the Stokley Carmichael story. A, what happened there is I got called in to. I don't even, maybe the dean.--[clears throat] Dean's office and I don't really remember who called me in. What had happened is whatever organization Ben was working with, and it may have been Students for ACTION, it may have been another group. 'Cause he got, you know, he had afro out to here and had his dashiki and had all the, all the accoutrements that you needed to have to be a radical then. This is in 1968, August 1968. And so you've got, you know, you've got Richard Nixon, you got Hubert Humphrey and all that going on. And I don't really remember what all was happening. But they had a meeting out here and just went into one of the rooms of the Union, sat down, had a meeting, got up and left. They did not reserve the room. So far as I know today, they didn't exclude anybody from being able to come in there, they just used the room without renting it. And I believe now, that Ben was certainly being targeted at that time.
LS: By? The administration?
JL: Just by. I don't know that it was the administration. --[clears throat] I think he was targeted by, by what would have been the Office of Homeland Security. Whatever, I mean. We had a lot of that going on then, too. You know, it was real easy to be politically incorrect. And there was an awful lot. And so they brought these charges against Ben for using a room without authorization. It was kind of like Al Capone and tax evasion, I mean it was pretty minor stuff. And so that came all to be heard, to be tried. And that was, in fact, a violation of the university rules. A, as student court, we were receiving briefings, as I recall, it's been a long time ago. We were receiving briefings through the administration that would come from the attorney generals office about the issues that they expected to come up.--
LS: The attorney general of?--
JL: The state of North Carolina.--
LS: They take an interest in what happens at the?--
JL: Absolutely.--
LS: What rooms are rented in a. [laughs] OK. Go ahead.--
JL: It was just because Ben was being tried, I think.
JL: We, we received some briefings from them. One of the issues that came up is that he is going to bring a, a lawyer with him. And they gave us a briefing about is a lawyer permissible in a student court. And we ruled, actually I think we ruled correctly on that, value of hindsight and all that. If anybody can have a lawyer, then everybody should be able to have a lawyer. But if nobody can have a lawyer, and it's entirely student proceeding and nobody should be able to. So I, I really think that we ruled correctly. A, but a he brought James Ferguson with him who is one of the preeminent trial lawyers in the state of North, well in the United States. And I've since gone to seminars and I've heard him talk. And I refer people down to his office and all that. And he brought James Ferguson with him, and we ruled that he was, that he could not appear in a student proceeding. And then he tried it, the administration put on their case. Ben didn't say anything. We found him guilty, and I think we admonished him. I don't even remember what we did. It's probably in the article. And a, but I don't remember what we did. But that happened in that context. And there was a real interest in that, in discrediting Ben. I mean we didn't throw him out of school as I recall or anything like that you know. I mean, I think whatever we did at the time we felt we made the punishment fit the crime.
LS: Was there a lot of tension?
JL: Yes, a lot of tension. And that's really the only trial that we had the whole time I was chief justice. And that thing went on for all day. I mean it was a long deal. And there was an awful lot of interest in the administration and, you know, and that interest I think was passed through from the state of North Carolina. But that wasn't the Stokely Carmichael incident.
LS: Let me ask about that. If he didn't talk, and you said it went on all day. But if he just sat there.
JL: Well, the administration. The, the, the. Well, first you had to deal with the issues of whether he could have lawyer or not have lawyer and all of that sort of stuff. You know. We were briefed by the administration, and then we had issues about the lawyer, and then, we had the trial, and they put up all this evidence you know. Well, here we are this is the sign out sheet for the room that he didn't sign out the room.
LS: [laughs]
JL: And so a, anyway. I. It took a good chunk of time. I'm thinking it took the better part of a day to deal with all of that. And that really is the only thing.
LS: Was that court open to everybody or, like, were other students there to watch?
JL: I think, as I recall it was closed. But I may be wrong. I don't, there weren't other students there to watch. And I think we closed it, 'cause I think that was one of the issues we got briefed on as to whether that was an open court or a closed court. And since it was student proceeding only, that was not necessarily an open court. And I think that we were briefed on that because they did not want to get, I mean this was the time when you've got the, what it was, it was before the Chicago Eight, Seven, however many trials Bobby Seale and all that. It was before that. Or about that same time. So you had that sort of disrupt court room thing going on. Ben never did disrupt the court room proceeding, a, as I recall. I mean, couldn't have a lawyer, he protested and didn't say anything because he didn't have a lawyer. But that was sort of going from the point where we had been friends and he was teaching me the boo-ga-loo and shing-a-ling to, to, to you know. And at this point he had resigned as chairman of the Union almost immediately after that meeting that I was telling you about right after Bobby Kennedy was shot. And, and was not involved in, in, in formal student activities after that, to my knowledge. I don't know that he ever graduated from UNCC. I mean but I never have looked it up. It really doesn't make any difference to me. You know, I don't know that he ever, I don't know what he did with his academic career at that point. I, cause you know he was a chemistry major. Which was not the sort of thing you become a student activist and do.
LS: He did graduate. He went to a, he went back to his hometown and taught but then there were a couple of incidents.
JL: Well then, you know you've got the Wilmington Ten thing. And a, a, and he was convicted in that. You know it's kind of interesting. Kay Roberson or she was Kay Watson when I knew her as a student out here. And she was on the Union board, her dad's an FBI agent, or was. He died a couple years ago. And Kay's dad was the agent in charge of the investigation of the Wilmington Ten case. And Jay Stroud, who is a lawyer practicing over in Gastonia now who I see all the time, was the DA. in trying that case. And he is the one, you know that was, was reversed because the DA's office failed to reveal that they had given, I think it was a little go cart or motorbike or something, and they gave it to this young kid who was apparently of fairly limited intelligence who testified against Ben and the other folks. And that was, as I recall, the bases of the reversal of their conviction. And, and Jay Stroud is the one who I think they principally laid the blame on. A, for that. So it's interesting how.
LS: Small world.
JL: Yeah, it is a small world. [laughs] That all these folks. I knew Kay. Knew, Kay and I dated some. Knew her dad, and met her dad, you know and. And he's the, course I didn't know at the time that he was the. Because all that happened while I was at law school. And you know, she had gone to teaching school over at Gaston College where she's a crackerjack teacher. You ought to talk to her just for the benefit of interview. But anyway, a.--
LS: Was she here at the time? In the 1960s, and late '60s?--
JL: Oh yeah, she and I were the same class. --
LS: OK.-- JL: Oh absolutely. She goes by Kay Roberson now, which was her married name, she's divorced. She is, she was here then. And so that gave, that was kind of interesting that that was involved. But a, I was going to go back and tell you about the Stokley Carmichael incident, 'cause you act like you had just not heard about that incident. --
LS: Which one?
JL: Stokley Carmichael.
LS: Well.--
JL: What happened is the. I don't know whether Students for ACTION or who invited Stokley Carmichael to come and talk at the university. And they made arrangements, and put him in what we then called the Parquet Room which is now the John Paul Lucas Room which is pretty small potatoes compared to things they got out here now. But then it was a big deal. And they had it all set up with the stage, and the chairs all up there and all that. And Doctor Colvard was out of town the day Stokley Carmichael came to town. I'm sure he had something, and, Dr. Colvard never backed down from anything. But a. I remember driving onto campus that morning and this place was surrounded by highway patrolmen and uniformed officers, and I don't know how many plain clothes officers. But this place, there was obviously a major police presence out here. 'Course Stokley Carmichael, he was the, part of the Black Panther Party, I think. I can't remember. What had happened is that the black students or people who came with Stokely Carmichael had, had taken possession of the Lucas Room. They had blocked off all the doors and they were only letting black students come into the Lucas Room at that point. And a, as you walked down the hall at that first door there was this huge guy, he was even bigger than Harold Pully, and he had on this tiger stripped dashiki. Big ol' afro. He was standing there, and nobody was going to come in. I mean couldn't go in. And the faculty was getting restive, you know faculty members get restive about stuff like that, you know, they don't care what the result is as long as the process is correct. And the process was just not correct.
LS: [laughs]
JL: And a, and they were getting restive about all this. And, and you know. What are you going to do? You going to send all these highway patrolmen in there, you're going to have blood on the floor. So what you do is you have Ms. Bonnie Cone on campus. And I remember standing there and Ms. Bonnie walked up to that guy who could have squashed her. I mean. She came up to about to his belt buckle. And she looked up and said, "Now, young man it's about time to open this for everybody to hear Mr. Carmichael, so let's go on in." She just pushed him right out of the way and walked right in. -- [laughter]
JL: And that was the end of the confrontation. And he just sort of, and the image that is always in my mind is he was looking at his grandma-ma telling him what to do, and she told him and he did it, because that was the end of the confrontation. If you had sent police officers, if you'd sent a man in there to do that it would not have been a pretty thing. She walked in there, she said we're coming to hear Mr. Carmichael and she pushed him aside and she walked in, everybody else walked in and we all heard Stokley Carmichael talk. And, and that was, that was really an interesting experience to see that. And as far as I know that was the only room that's ever been, or building rather that was ever commandeered during that period of time here on campus.
LS: Did they cancel classes, I mean?
JL: Oh, no, no, no, no.--
LS: How did everybody get there, they just all came?
JL: Well, everybody just. It was, I mean, you know over lunch and there was a, there was a-- [bell rings] in the schedule.--
LS: Fifteen minutes, we're fine.--
[Interruption by library announcer: May I have your attention please, the library will be closing in fifteen minutes. Thank You.]-- JL: In the schedule there was built into like from twelve to one thirty no classes so that organizations could have meetings. This was a commuter school. And if you didn't do it when people were out here, nobody was going to be out here to do it. You see, there was no dorms or anything. And so, you build that in, that was built into the schedule as I recall, now you may go make and look at the schedule and say he's all wet.
BS: No, because that was true up until a couple years ago.
JL: Oh, really OK.
BS: Mm-hum, that there were no classes between twelve and one thirty.
JL: Yeah.
BS: But it's grown too much.
JL: Yeah, you've got use some space. But that was my recollection, and it happened during that period of time. You know, you'd have a lot of people down in the Union and stuff eating lunch and that sort of thing. So a, anyway, that was the Stokley Carmichael story. And then, you know now, T. J. Reddy and, and Charlie Parker were part of the Lazy B barn burning deal.
LS: Allegedly. [laughs]
JL: Well they were arrested and tried. They were defendants in that. Do you need to change something here? They were a, arrested and they were on Amnesty International's list of political prisoners. I think Ben Chavis was, too, I can't remember, but I know they were. And during all of that I saw, I saw T. J. one day. I was over here in court and they were bringing him to a hearing and he was all in this, you know cartoon in The New Yorker about two weeks ago, intake orange. And I spoke to him briefly and then as I've said since then I've had the opportunity of, this is a great story.--
LS: Wait, wait, wait. [pause] Push, ( )
BS: I did.
[pause] LS: It's not rewinding. --
[pause] JL: I bet it's all gone. --
BS: ( )--
[pause] LS: Edit, well OK. --
[laughter] LS: What does it want you to take out?
JL: Are we back on?--
BS: You're back on.--
LS: We're on, this is a good story. Go ahead.
JL: Alright. Now.--
LS: Did you push ( ).
BS: Mm-hum.
JL: And it's running and doing all of that stuff? OK. I ran into him, you know I had seen him as a student. And then I ran into him at the courthouse that day. And then after that he was over in the prison camp over in Shelby, and. But then one day I ran into him, he was in Lincolnton, I don't remember why he was in Lincolnton. I ran into for some reason, and so I took him out, we went out to lunch, and spent a really long lunch just catching up. 'Cause he had gotten divorced, remarried, and has actually since gotten divorced again. But a, a, and we really, really sort of caught up and so I got him involved and he did, he did a couple years of the thing, he brought his art up, he did stuff with the kids at schools. I mean, he's a great teacher, just a great teacher. And a, he a, he did a program one night. He, he talked about his art and how he painted and what it meant and, and the influences. One of the paintings he had is, is, is a, they're all men and one were all women and there's this big heart in it. It's very bright, very colorful. And I've got the one with the women in it, I think. But another influence on him was Romare Bearden. And a, and I've got one that is, it's got a lot of sawdust in it and leaves and stuff and just paint globbed on it. There's a footprint in there. It's really neat. A, anyway I've got one of those too. But anyway, we did that and then a, the good story part is the fellow who was the director of the Un--, no, the Cultural Center in Lincolnton who we were doing this for, is a musician and can play just about anything. And so he, he and T. J. were talking cause T. J. can play about anything. And I remember one of the things he did when he did the program is he did, well, he did a whole lot of African legends, myths, you know a, like the alligator and whatever, whatever. And actually I think I've got a tape recording of what he did. I think I've got that put back somewhere, I just can't remember where I put it back. And a, and then another thing he did, one of the last things he did, is a, he did, he did a sermon like a black preacher at a black church. And then he turned around, and I never had realized this, but he did the exactly the same sermon in a rap cadence. And he pointed out to us that the basic cadence in both is the same, it just has to do with the beat. Or the speed that it's delivered at. It was really interesting to have him do that. Anyway, so. He had come up and done all that and then I had him over and we had dinner, and I invited a friend of mine who was a, a sculptor, a friend who was a painter, fellow who was a Episcopal priest who had just finished his dissertation on art and theology. And a, who else came? You know we had about six or seven people, all of whom were real involved in the arts and everything.
BS: Wow, what a lively dinner table.
JL: Oh it was, it was great fun. And he had his children with him. And I didn't realize he was separated from his wife at that point, he had his children with him and. And he's a vegetarian. And one of his children is one, we had some vegetarian stuff and some not so vegetarian stuff. A, but, and we prevailed on him to do his talk again for us, and I think that's where I got the recording. I think that's when I recorded it. But a, anyway. As an outgrowth of that, he was talking to Lyle Back is the a, in fact just finished a masters in MBA out here. And a, is a, well the head of public relations for the school system in Lincolnton. Now, and he. And they were talking about music. And he [T.J. Reddy] said what you need to do is come over to the Excelsior Club on Wednesday night, because on Wednesday night all the places that have live music are closed, and all those guys come in and jam. And it's the best jazz in town, and I guarantee you it is. So Lyle and his wife, and my wife and I went down to Excelsior Club as T. J.'s guests, he took us in. But he wouldn't come sit with us. [laughs] So we all sat there and he would have someone bring us a beer, but he wouldn't. And he said it was because he couldn't take his hat off. He's, whatever wearing a hat for some religious purpose or whatever, so. And he said, they won't, you can not go into the Excelsior Club if you're wearing a hat. And a, I had been to the Excelsior Club but that was campaigning for D. G. Martin and that was, was a real different experience, because there we were expected, we were supposed to be white folks at the Excelsior Club then. But, but this was a different night. We were, and I asked Lyle you not going to get up there and play? And he said this is not my place, this is not my music, I am not getting up there. [laughs] And Lyle could have kept up with them. But boy what great music, what a great experience it is to go out there and sit at the Excelsior Club. I don't know if you know where the Excelsior Club is. If you're going out Brookshire Freeway, a, if you go up Brookshire Freeway, a the old water treatment plant, right past Johnson C. Smith. Right there on Beatties Ford Road. And the Excelsior Club is a white building, sits right next to it.
BS: I can smell the fried chicken.
JL: I, and a, and, in the '60s and really up until recently, you know. You now have black members at Myers Park Country Club, Quail Hollow Country Club. You know people who were doctors and lawyers, and bank executives. But they would not have been members of those places in the '60s and '70s, and I don't even think really in the '80s, I think it began in the '90s. And the Excelsior Club was the country club of the two places as I understand it from D. G. I don't know if you know D. G. Martin. He ran for Congress, I was his campaign manager in Lincoln County. And a, as I understood it from him, that if you were having, if a black group, that Charlotte was having a meeting and alcohol was consumed at the Excelsior Club. If it was a church group [bell rings] and there was no alcohol they went to McDonald's cafeteria. [laughs] And I've been there ,too, there's some good food, but sadly it's closed.
[Interruption by library announcer: ( )] JL: But anyway, I a, so a. Anyway, that's kind of my T. J. stories about going to the Excelsior Club and he wouldn't come sit with us. [laughs]
LS: Do you need to go?
BS: Yeah.
LS: OK. I'll take all this down, I'll, I'll get all this down. Her son is.
JL: Well, I think we've gotten most of the good stuff.
LS: No, we'll listen to the tape.
BS: Can I pause this?
JL: If it's too much trouble, I'd just take them and save them all and print the one's I like.
JL: What I'd do.
LS: Alright, we're live.
JL: Back on?
LS: Yes.
LS: Who, who were some of the other people? Like did you know Jim Grant or a, he was actually one of the people involved in the--
JL: Yeah, I think I remember the name.
LS: Stables incident.--
JL: Oh, then maybe I don't. Was he a black guy or white guy?
LS: No, he was white, and he had a PhD in chemistry.
JL: I remember the name, but I don't, I don't remember him. He wasn't somebody I knew.
LS: OK.--
JL: Wasn't somebody I knew closely.
LS: Now Ben Chavis ran for a, city council or city?--
JL: That would have been after, see. --
LS: After you.- -
JL: In '69, the fall of '69 then I moved to Chapel Hill and I was there until the Fall of '72. So, anything that happened between '69 and '72 I pretty much don't know about.
LS: So things were, still at a high--kind of a fever pitch, or they.--
JL: Oh absolutely.--
LS: They were still at their height when you left?
JL: I mean you have to remember that in the fall of '69 a, is when a, Kent State happened. [Kent State occurred May 1970] And I mean a, Chapel Hill was shut down. And somebody even [bell rings] sacrilege of sacrileges, spray painted on the front of the.
[Interruption by library announcer: The library is now closing ( )] JL: On the front of the Wilson Library, and that had never happened, not for anything. Not even about beating Duke. And somebody had. And a, the whole quadrangle between South Building and a, Wilson Library was covered in crosses a. The a, [coughs] some of the departments I think canceled exams. Law students, however, took exams. A, but a, that was very intense, very intense, all during '69. A, you know, a, you Vietnam. After the Tet Offensive in '68?.--The Tet Offensive would have been in the late spring of '68. Because I took a course in Civil War history in the summer of '68. As I recall. A, John Robbins taught it. And the Tet Offensive had occurred, and of course after the Tet Offensive it became apparent that we could not win. That Vietnam was the wrong war, at the wrong time, at the wrong place, and we had no allies.--
LS: Where have I heard that?
JL: I don't think I've heard that recently from anybody. But I mean if you were serving time in Alabama, you'd probably with the Air National Guard, you probably aware of that issue coming up.--
LS: [laughs]
JL: [coughs] [laughs] Anyway, so you wouldn't have been aware of the Tet Offensive and the impact that had on the presidency. I won't say anything about cocaine.--
LS: [laughs]
JL: Anyway, the a, after that. I wrote a paper. And this is why I can remember this a. After the Tet Offensive, that's when we began to, to, the build up in Vietnam stopped. And we began to withdraw troops. [clears throat] And from that point on, [coughs] anybody who went to Vietnam was sent so that Richard Nixon could win peace with honor. And so then there were an awful lot of kids killed for peace with honor. When we knew that it was not an honorable situation and we knew what was going to happen. Clark Clifford, said that the best thing for us to do was to declare victory and get out, and, and we should have done that. And, and so I think that's why feeling was so intense, because Richard Nixon campaigned with "I have a program to get us out Vietnam", you know, "I have a program to win peace." And he didn't anymore have a program than the man in the moon. But I wrote a paper, in the Civil War history class and likened Lee's invasion of the North at Gettysburg to, to the Tet Offensive. Lee knew he couldn't win extensively in the North because he'd outrun his line of supply. But if he could take the war to the North in the year right before the presidential election, he could influence the election possibly so that a peace candidate might defeat Lincoln. So he did it for political purposes. And I thought it was a darn good paper and a darn good theory. And since then somebody's written a book that says exactly that. I should have copyrighted my idea. So, you know, after the, after the summer of '68, we were obviously disengaging, or we thought we were. And we, and people voted for Richard Nixon thinking that he had a plan to disengage us, but he didn't. And a, a, and, and so there was this anger that grew out of that. Grew out of a, you're not old enough to remember all that. But that grew out of the a, the, you know, the, the riots in Chicago during the.--
LS: Yeah.
JL: During the Watts riot. And all of that stuff. And there was just such a general anger, and, and then you had the killing of four students at Kent State, you know. So, that was very intense. And probably it was a good thing that it happened at the end of the school year. Things could simmer down a little bit over the summer. A, it was very, very intense. And I'm not sure that after, after Kent State that people didn't sort of draw up and think, wow, we're really in this thing seriously now. I don't remember. The other thing that was going on at the same time, we drank a lot of beer when I was in college out here.
LS: They still do.
JL: We might, and we might have drunk a little bit of bourbon, and a little bit of scotch, and a lot of rum. But I don't really remember, any, any drugs. Well, John Wuffstetler was a student out here and had a great band. The name of the band, used to play, used to play with, you know, these rubber chickens hanging off the end of his guitar.
LS: [laughs]
JL: And then, John Wuffsteler would go out and put on a loincloth and walk on the water on the lake and stuff. John was, at the time I was here, the only radical hippie on UNC-C's campus. And I didn't know John well, he was very creative. A, the first time I ever heard the music to Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Heart's Club Band, it was his band that played it. And I've never like the Beatles' version as well as I liked his band's version. He was really, I, we'd have him out here to do dances, music all the time.
LS: Where's he live?
JL: I don't know, I don't know. John Wuffstetler. I understand that his brother had been killed in Vietnam, and he had become very radical as a result of that. But he had long hair. And nobody had long hair then. I mean you'll see these pictures. Long, you didn't have long hair then. In 1970, you know, '69, '70, by time I was in law school everybody on campus at Chapel Hill, except law students, had long hair. And even by the time I graduated, even law students had long hair and wore bell bottoms. A, so people were radicalized over that period of time. I think in the '60s, in the '60s there was a lot of drug use in the colleges up North, that hadn't really filtered down to UNCC. It had, by the time I was in Chapel Hill in '70, in the spring of '70, '71 they used to have Jubilee Weekend. And I don't think they've ever had it since then. I can remember walking into what was the Navy field and the people be out there. And they'd have backpacks and have little cookers, and they had a regular store of drugs. And you could cook up a little heroin or a little whatever, and buy it right there, and get a shot right there and go on. 'Cause people didn't know about AIDS and stuff like that then. And, and that ugly side you know, Woodstock lasted until Altamont when the Hell's Angels killed people when they were guarding the, a.
LS: Rolling Stones.
JL: The Rolling Stones. And, and that point we had passed over to Altamont. The Woodstock generation was over and the ugly side of the drug use was there. Because drugs became very prevalent, and there's a generational divide about three years behind me. My sister-in-law's three years younger then I am, my brother's six years younger then I am. And they both grew up with long hair, and smoking pot, and all that drug culture and then, and I didn't and my wife didn't, she's. And it occurs somewhere right behind me. I mean the door almost slammed right behind me on, you know. Them--some people my age who became radicalized, but most of that happened them right behind me. Particularly here because you know we weren't in the mainstream of what was going on at Harvard, Berkley and stuff. You know, all that stuff hadn't really rolled in here. Began too, it was beginning to, but it hadn't at that point.
LS: Well, I'm sure the fact that it was a commuter campus largely.
JL: Everybody here was working, believe it. You had people out here that they had children, they had jobs. I was working to pay, you know, I worked and paid all my own tuition out here. And you know, you can't be really radical when you're having to work for a living and you're supporting a wife and children and doing all that kind of stuff. You know that has an impact on it. You know. Yeah, that, I'm sure that has something to do with it. And there's just where we are. You know, we're in the Bible Belt. And these young people coming out of, you know Kannapolis, and out of Salisbury, and out of . These are largely first generation college in their families. I wasn't, but I was unique, I was different, because of the fact that I had, you know, my parents had all gone to college. I was not first generation. But that, I was probably the exception and not the rule when I was out here. So.
LS: OK. Let me review my list. See I'd make a terrible lawyer because I have to, to.
JL: [laughs]
LS: I need too much prep. Well, actually I think that you, you've probably covered everything. You know, you, you talked about the specific incidents and you talked about the people who were
JL: Yeah.
LS: Who were the key players.
JL: Did you have some other names that you?
LS: Well no, but I wanted to ask you.
JL: See I think the Lazy B thing happened the summer after I graduated in.
LS: '70
JL: '69 or '70. I can't remember. He was, it happened after, because the trials were all after, after when I was in law school.
LS: Now, do you know Bill Billups?
JL: Yeah.
LS: Well, we.
JL: Well, I knew Bill Billups. I haven't seen Bill Billups in forever.
LS: Well, I thought. We had a Concord address, we're getting some non-responses. We're getting our contacts from the alumni office and so they just may not be, you know.
JL: I haven't seen Bill Billups in.--
LS: Valid or. OK.
JL: Since I graduated.
LS: Was he sort of in the middle of some of this or did he come later?
JL: No, he was here then.
LS: He was?
JL: He was here then, he was involved in student government and all that sort of stuff. I don't recall that he was actively involved.
JL: And I don't know that I was, I mean I wasn't. We were just having fun.--
LS: [laughs]
JL: You know, we had a group. John Robbins called us angels. There were four of us who were blond haired and blue eyed, John called us the angels. Dewayne Spitzer, Pete Donohue, and Phil Wilson, and I probably have less hair than any of them. But when I had hair, in the summer it would be blond. You know, so. John Robbins called us. There's a picture floating around somewhere of all four of us probably as drunk as we could be at a dance out here. [laughs] You know, and I think we're in a Nehru jacket.
LS: And madras.--
JL: Oh I've got a madras sport coat and pants now that I.-- [laughter]
LS: Feel free to get them out and wear them.
JL: I'm back to the '60s.
LS: It's all quaint now, but it was a lot more real then. We have so far, I think we've, you're the fourth or maybe the fifth person that we've talked to. And, yes, we are still interested in names if you have some people that you'd want to suggest.
JL: Well, I've tried to remember.--
LS: Go ahead.
JL: Yeah, you know, the names of people that I recall.--
JL: Seems like Mike Ridge. But Mike was very serious, he was in love.
LS: That always gets in the way doesn't it.
JL: Gets in the way of being radical, that's right.
LS: Yeah.
JL: He was. Bud Stuart would be, would be a good person to comment on that stuff. His picture's right there.
LS: Was that.--
JL: He lives in Charlotte. --
LS: Bud is a real name or a?
JL: Yeah, yeah. Well I think his real name is, I don't know, F. N. Stuart. Bud Stuart, he and Rodney Smith, a.--