Charles Scott Reflects on Dean Smith and the Bubble of UNC
UNC’s first scholarship African-American athlete (Willie Cooper was the first African-American to play basketball. He was on the JV team a year prior), Charles “Charlie” Scott, joined the Mac Attack to reflect on his time playing in Chapel Hill, his coach Dean Smith, and to discuss the rivalry with Duke.
On Dean Smith: Coach Smith was more of a parent than he was a coach. He coached us in basketball, but he taught us in life. The thing he wanted to do was make us good human beings. He was more into building our characters and our personalities as individuals. He was trying to make us understand the impact we could have on life and in society, as individuals. He wanted us to understand those things more than basketball. He was a father figure to me, because my father had died when I was only 14. He was an individual that I could look upon and say to myself, ‘this is the type of person I would like to be. These are the things I would like to do in life.’ That’s been my rule of thumb since I met him.
On breaking the color barrier at UNC: At Carolina, the fans were always loyal and have always been very good to me. I never had a problem at UNC. That is the school, the vacuum I would say. Outside of UNC, I was still in the state of North Carolina. I still was dealing with racial prejudice that permeated through the state at that time. I went to high school in North Carolina and I couldn’t sit downstairs in the movie theatre. I had to sit upstairs. High schools were still segregated. You had your white high schools and your black high schools. These things were still there in the south.
On playing in the south, at that time: I remember visiting places like South Carolina, Georgia Tech and Vanderbilt and other places in south. The crowds weren’t always saying things that were nice of me. Most of the time, they were said to try to throw me off my game, to get into my head, and I understood that, but they were racial slurs that I had to deal with and that was part of the thing, that I understood going to UNC, I would have to endure.