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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern states will face their race problems before northern states

Askew argues that southern states will face their race problems before northern states do, either because southerners are more willing to do so or are forced to by significant African American populations.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Reubin Askew, July 8, 1974. Interview A-0045. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

WALTER DE VRIES:
What do you think it will take for Florida to rejoin the national Democratic party?
JACK BASS:
Expand that to the South, if you would.
REUBIN ASKEW:
I think that the South right now is poised, so to speak, to become very much a part of the Democratic national party. Some of the problems that have characteristically been thought of as southern problems in terms of race are not just southern problems anymore. I think that some of the other parts of the country are now facing up to a lot of the self-questioning that the South has gone through and I think come out pretty well. I think that the South is going to solve its racial problems before other parts of the country will.
WALTER DE VRIES:
Why?
REUBIN ASKEW:
Because I think that it is facing up to them and it has had to face up to them because we had a lot of them as a matter of law, whereas certain other parts of the country . . . and when I say "other parts of the country," I'm talking about other parts of the country that are urban where you have a large black population. Now, in some of the states where you have a minimal black population, you haven't had a problem, you probably never will have much of one. But I think the South has been willing . . . well, maybe "willing," that might be questioned, but for one reason or another, they started to face up to a lot of the problems and I think have recognized that the historic restraints have held the South back from developing itself. And I think that you are getting a greater acceptance in the South, even though it has been slow and sometimes imperceptibly so. Florida may well be one of the most desegregated states educationwise in the nation. A lot of them in other parts of the country, de facto segregation, or whatever you want to call it, by circumstance, housing or otherwise, I think that the South hasn't gotten to the point that it has developed so many urban ghettos to where it becomes almost impossible to solve the problem. And because I think that this new awareness has developed at a time when we still can do something about it before it really gets to the state where it is in some of your big urban areas, particularly the northeast. Now, I might say also that there is a counterpart to this also. An analogous situion concerning the environment. See, because Florida, I think, has caught it at a time prior to further growth to where it can turn the corner. If it had waited another ten years, it might have created so much urban sprawl that it might have had a hard time reversing, but it will and I think it has. And I think that it will do the same things, really, in terms of race. Now, that doesn't say that we don't still have a tremendous challenge in this field, but it is a challenge that is national as well.