To Go to the Richy Kreme

The black students who desegregated Clinton High couldn’t go to the cafeteria for lunch, so they tried to find other spots to eat. Some went home. Others visited with family members who worked downtown. Jo Ann Allen Boyce carried an apple and tried to find a peaceful corner to munch on it.

On the third day of school, Bobby Cain, Maurice Soles, Alfred Williams and Ronald Hayden met some friends at the Richy Kreme for hotdogs and ice cream. They were attacked by the segregationist protestors outside the school.

Cain was charged with disorderly conduct and carrying a knife, even though the police claimed that they had picked him up for his own protection. They also arrested a white student and one of the black teens who met up with the high schoolers at the restaurant. Both of them were charged with carrying knives. The three teens were each placed under two hundred fifty dollars bond.

After the police extricated the Clinton High students, the mob went into a local barbershop. They grabbed Eugene Gibson, the shop’s black seventeen-year-old shoeshine boy, and dragged him into the streets. The police also took Gibson into protective custody, but they did not arrest any of the whites who had attacked him.

Principal D.J. Brittain Jr. was in his office being interviewed by some newspaper reporters. He looked out the window and saw Cain and the other teenagers being attacked. He made arrangements to slip the rest of the African-American students out the back door under police protection. Before they went, he told them to return to school the next morning. He decided not to suspend Cain. 

Anna Theresser Caswell was in study hall when the policeman came to take her home. As he walked her to his car, he kept telling her teacher, “Tell her not to look down. Tell her not to look down the street.” Intrigued, Caswell looked behind her and saw the white mob. She and her good friend Alva McSwain Lambert had eaten an early lunch with Lambert’s mother, who worked at the county jail. “We had just come in that same door where those people were waiting,” she told me.

These oral histories are some of the conversations I recorded as part of Out of the Silence