- Oral Histories of the American South: The Civil Rights Movement
- Oral history interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996
- Beech, Harvey E., 1923-
- Contributor to Resource:
- Foye, Anita
Southern Oral History Program
- Date of Original:
- Family--North Carolina--Social life and customs--20th century
Lawyers--North Carolina--History--20th century
North Carolina--Race relations--20th century
African American lawyers--North Carolina
African Americans--Civil rights--North Carolina
College integration--North Carolina--Chapel Hill
University of North Carolina (1793-1962). School of Law
African American law students--North Carolina--Chapel Hill
- Beech, Harvey E., 1923-
- United States, North Carolina, Orange County, 36.0613, -79.1206
United States, North Carolina, Orange County, Chapel Hill, 35.9132, -79.05584
oral histories (literary works)
- Harvey E. Beech was born in Kinston, North Carolina, in 1923, the youngest of five children. Although Beech's father could not read or write, he saved his money and opened barbershops throughout the Kinston community. His business acumen afforded most of his children the opportunity to attend college. His youngest son, Harvey, however, was sent to Harris Barber College in Raleigh, North Carolina, since his older siblings' education had taken its toll on their father's bank account. Harvey's academic drive and passion for education led him to pursue a college degree. He earned enough money to attend Morehouse College, and his self-reliance, independence, and passion for changing social injustices propelled his interest in a legal career. To earn money for law school, he promoted black entertainers and opened a general store. In the early 1950s, Thurgood Marshall asked Beech to join a pending case against the University of North Carolina School of Law. Beech joined the case, along with J. Kenneth Lee. In 1951, Beech and Lee, along with James Lassiter, Floyd McKissick, and James Walker, became the first African American students to enroll at the UNC law school. Beech candidly discusses the psychological impact of desegregating an all-white institution, including his anger at having to give up his swimming pool privileges because of his race. He evaluates the strength of racism in American society, while adamantly arguing that the abandonment of racial discrimination and racial identities would eliminate barriers among all races and ethnicities.
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.
- Metadata URL:
- Title from menu page (viewed on Nov. 18, 2008).
Interview participants: Harvey E. Beech, interviewee; Anita Foye, interviewer.
This electronic edition is part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South. It is a part of the collection Oral histories of the American South.
Text encoded by Jennifer Joyner. Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers.
- Contributing Institution:
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Documenting the American South (Project)