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Carolina Story: Virtual Museum of University History

Life in Segregated Chapel Hill

Ben Boothe (died 1891)

North Carolina's African Americans faced tremendous financial difficulties in the late nineteenth century. Sometimes they submitted to demeaning treatment for a few pennies. Ben Boothe, an African American resident of Chapel Hill, allowed students to hit him on the head with a fist or a board for five cents. He would never flinch. For another five cents, he crowed like a rooster. Faculty suspected that college servant Tom Kirby secretly sold whiskey to students.