In a segregation-ridden community, the Chapel Hill school system was split into two separate schools: Chapel Hill High School and Lincoln High School. Now, over half a century later, the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City School District has four separate high schools, in which students of all colors, creeds and backgrounds are enrolled.
Jock Lauterer, Carolyn Daniels, Dave Mason, Richard Ellington and Dr. John Allcott are all graduates of either Chapel Hill or Lincoln High from the sixties. Together, they have worked to create an award for two deserving local graduating high school students.
Many of these award founders experienced segregation during their childhood in Chapel Hill. Dave Mason even participated in the Chapel Hill Nine, a Civil Rights Era sit-in administered by nine men from Chapel Hill’s all-black Lincoln High School.
The award these leaders have established reflect the unjust times of segregation and how much our community has changed since then. There is an award that was given out to two students; A white student and an African-American student win the award based on demonstrating civic engagement in improving multiculturalism in our community.
Jock Lauterer, one of the creators of this award, commented on how the formation of this award came about.
“Dr. John Allcott came into some money and wanted to do something meaningful with it,” said Lauterer.
He gave some background information of what it was like for him and the other creators growing up.
“We grew up in a Chapel Hill that was very segregated in the early 60’s,” said Lauterer.
He also mentioned what this award might look like in the future.
“The long term goal is to make this award an annual award and ideally for more people, but we just want to get started and get this going,” said Lauterer.
Each of the creators of this award are a part of the Joint Alumni Association. Lauterer spoke on what the Joint Alumni Association is all about.
“The Joint Alumni Association has the purpose of building new bridges and forging new relationships and encouraging your generation to think about the values of multiculturalism and to reward a kid from each cohort who we think deserves the cash award,” said Lauterer.
Dave Mason, a Lincoln High alumni from the sixties who helped establish the Lincoln H.S./Chapel Hill H.S. Joint Alumni Service award, gave insight into being part of the Chapel Hill Nine.
“I had an opportunity to participate in the very first sit-in in Chapel Hill; I was one of nine individuals and I can tell you that things have changed significantly… I feel like things have changed significantly but the matters of social change, social justice, and equity are still issues in 2019,” said Mason.
Subsequently, Mason reiterated what the award is all about and what they are looking for in the people who apply.
“We are looking for students who have the compassion to inspire change and the passion to sustain it,” said Mason.
Richard Ellington, another creator of the award, briefly established what his situation was growing up in Chapel Hill.
“I was a Chapel Hill High student and was in the class of ‘63 during the segregation period,” said Ellington.
He shared what the separation was like between Chapel Hill High and Lincoln High School. “We were a mile apart in distance but a world apart in experience,” said Ellington.
Ellington is still frustrated about parts of our society, and how this award helps to mitigate some of the inequality in our area.
“One of the things that has bothered me so much about growing up in the segregation era and the aftermath, for so long we have wanted to do away with the separation, and now it seems like people want to resegregate and separate in society…We want to have people reach out to their neighbors and peers and be a part of the community and there’s an equality that we are pursuing,” said Ellington.
Dr. John Allcott, the primary benefactor and creator of this service award and CHHS graduate, described the separation between the two schools.
“There were separate ball games, separate leagues, separate bands,” said Allcott.
Finally, he related what this service award is all about and how it can benefit and progress society.
“I hope for a society with opportunity and we hope that with this award that we can teach about equity and the possibility that we can all find our way,” said Allcott.
This award is a fantastic way to improve multiculturalism and equality in society, and this is just the beginning of this award and its impact. In future years, this award could encourage a greater opportunity for multiculturalism and civil engagement to flourish in the Chapel Hill area.