The Oregon State University Sesquicentennial Oral History Project

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Charlie White Oral History Interview

Life history interview conducted by Dwaine Plaza and Natalia Fernández.

May 18, 2011


“A Groundbreaking Leader on a Legendary Team”  May 18, 2011  Location: Salbasgeon Suites, Corvallis, Oregon.  Watch Video | Download Transcript (PDF)

In the interview, White describes growing up in Detroit during the 1950s; joining the military and playing basketball oversees; and his journey from junior college in southern California to enrollment at Oregon State University.

The primary focus of the session is White's memories of life as an African American student-athlete at OSU in the mid-1960s. He discusses the constraints faced by African American basketball players during that time period, his interactions with Slats Gill and Paul Valenti, and a summer job that he held working in the forest near Cottage Grove. He likewise notes the make-up of OSU's basketball team during his first year on the squad, living accommodations and social life for black students in Corvallis, and his experiences with local police and fraternities.

White then provides an overview of his career following his graduation from OSU, with particular emphasis placed on his work at the Crown-Zellerbach manufacturing facility in Antioch, California, where he was tasked with helping to integrate the company's workforce.

As the interview nears its end, White discusses his leadership style as a team captain at OSU, and continues his description of jobs that he held in later years. The session concludes with White's reflections on his life-long love of basketball.