When she arrived in Chapel Hill to teach social work in 1966, Hortense McClinton was welcomed as the first black professor at UNC.
She remembered one student saying, “the School of Social Work is on the ball,” when she taught her first class.
But off campus, McClinton confronted a different dynamic.
Several stores on Franklin Street rejected black patrons. At the State Employees’ Credit Union, employees automatically assumed that, as a black woman, she wanted to borrow money. After informing them of her intentions to deposit money instead, they gave her questioning looks.
And as she told a crowd of about 40 people at the Tate-Turner-Kuralt Building on Tuesday, racial discrimination persists today.
“I don’t want to be a pessimist, but I think the struggle still goes on,” she said.
McClinton spoke Tuesday as part of the Parr Center for Ethics’ Lunch and Learn program. Before a packed room, she shared her story along with her insights on ethical dilemmas, racism, and affirmative action.
Jennie Dickson, the center’s program coordinator, said she was delighted McClinton approached the school about coming to speak at UNC.
“The topics of affirmative action and racism affect everyone in the school,” she said.