Nina Simone: A day of contrasts in 1961

“After [Nina Simone’s 1961 concert at Memorial Hall, UNC Chapel Hill student] Frank Craighill arranged for dinner at one of the area’s newest steak houses, the Angus Barn. Craighill [president of the social club that sponsored the concert] had picked the restaurant with care… and when Nina and the trio walked in as guests of the university, a big round table was already set and waiting for them. It was easily one of the most elegant meals any of them had eaten on the road….

“[But] an encounter later at the train station in Raleigh left no doubt they were in the South. As they waited for the train to New York, a white woman claimed she had lost her purse. The station manager found the purse in the men’s restroom. One of the waiting passengers asserted that [drummer Bobby Hamilton] had been the last person to use it, and in a flash police… zeroed in, all but accusing him of theft. But Nina leapt to his defense. ‘She just went crazy,’ [bassist Chris White] remembered. ‘She read them the riot act…. She was just as black as she could be with these guys and they left us alone.’ ”

— From “Princess Noire: The Tumultuous Reign of Nina Simone” by Nadine Cohodas (2010)

A footnote: Frank Craighill went on to become a pioneer in the field of sports marketing.

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