Gatha Horton Lassiter (1910–1988)
Chapel Hill, NC
“I always said that if I ever got to the place where I could help justice, I was going to do it. This is from a child up. I saw things.”
The university community of Chapel Hill, affectionately called by its members as “the southern part of heaven,” was experienced very differently by Gatha Lassiter and other black families who lived close to the campus but were otherwise in a different world, bounded by race and poverty. Lassiter grew up on a farm and moved to Chapel Hill as an adult, where she earned her high school degree in night school and joined the League of Women Voters, supported student pickets of the local movie house, and volunteered at Memorial Hospital. To affect change, she believed, you had to find out what was happening on the inside.