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Oral history interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989

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Creator:Cusick, Pat
Creator:Dean, Pamela
Creator:Southern Oral History Program
Title:Oral history interview with Pat Cusick, June 19, 1989
Date:1989 June 19

Pat Cusick discusses how his educational and military experiences altered his views on race. His relationships with blacks and exposure to racially progressive ideas provided a basis for his later civil rights activism. He was dissatisfied with the state of liberalism on the University of North Carolina campus. He also comments on what he saw as the hypocrisy and civil masks of Chapel Hill liberalism, which in his view prevented effective social progress. Cusick describes his participation in civil rights demonstrations as part of the anti-war Student Peace Union. Through his anti-war efforts, Cusick became aware of other social movements on campus. He laments his idealistic belief in what he came to view as the liberal facade of Chapel Hill. He regrets not pressuring the University to do more, though his activities did result in jail time. Cusick describes the formative impact his prison time had in stirring up his radicalism, emboldening his support of nonviolent strategies, and connecting with other like-minded activists. He explains how his stance against segregated prisons led to a lengthy hunger strike. Governor Terry Sanford's slow response in desegregating public facilities was a disappointment to him. He discusses the massive legal trial against civil rights demonstrators and his subsequent departure from North Carolina. Cusick moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where he became aware of northern racial prejudice, and where he engaged in social and economic justice endeavors. It was not until Massachusetts enacted a policy in 1988 against gay adoption that Cusick publicly came out as a gay man. He credits the influence of the civil rights movement with helping him come to terms with his sexuality.

The Civil Rights Digital Library received support from a National Leadership Grant for Libraries awarded to the University of Georgia by the Institute of Museum and Library Services for the aggregation and enhancement of partner metadata.

Types:Transcripts | Sound recordings | Oral histories (document genres) | Text | Sound
Subjects:Cusick, Pat | Civil rights workers--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | African Americans--Civil rights--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | Civil rights movements--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | College students--North Carolina--Chapel Hill--Political activity | Civil disobedience--North Carolina--Chapel Hill | Chapel Hill (N.C.)--Race relations | United States, North Carolina, Chapel Hill, 35.9132, -79.055845 | United States, North Carolina, Orange County, 36.0613199, -79.1205595
Collection:Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
Institution:Documenting the American South (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Contributors:University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)
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Forms part of Oral histories of the American South collection.

Persistent Link to Item:http://docsouth.unc.edu/sohp/L-0043/menu.html