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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Dabney believed that "separate but equal" would improve southern race relations

Dabney's second book, <cite>Below the Potomac</cite>, was a reaction to his New South lectures in the early 1940s. Given the political atmosphere in the South, "separate but equal" seemed to address racial problems.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, July 31, 1975. Interview A-0311-2. 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

DANIEL JORDAN:
Now, your next book in 1942 was Below the Potomac.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I was asked to write that by Appleton-Century. I had just been lecturing at Princeton on the New South. Mr. John L.B. Williams of the publishing firm was a Princeton graduate and he knew about my lectures and so he asked me to more or less bring Liberalism in the South up to date, that is, a book about the South of ten years after the Liberalism in the South period, which is what I tried to do with race relations, TVA and the economic and social problems of about 1940.
DANIEL JORDAN:
Did you offer some solutions for these problems or just identify the problems?
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
I tried to. I presented a thesis as to the race problem, which involved at that time "separate but equal" treatment of the races, on the theory that the South wasn't ready for more advanced solutions. I thought that we could get complete equality of facilities and treatment, that it might work for awhile.
DANIEL JORDAN:
And you drew it in part, I believe, from some of the philosophy of Professor Corioiu, who was a great constitutional historian at Princeton.
VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
He was at Princeton and I was lecturing there and he expressed the view that "separate but equal" could be supported legally if there was complete equality. In education, he thought that if there were first rate regional institutions for specialized subjects like medicine or veterinary medicine or engineering, where a state didn't have first rate institutions, they would have a regional institution for blacks and another one for whites. He thought that would be legal if approved by Congress.