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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Complicated nature of race relations

Daniels warns against viewing race relations between blacks and whites anachronistically and judgmentally. Reconstruction-era politics shaped his father's racial opinions, marking a repetitive theme of his father's fear of black domination. Daniels explains that although his father witnessed the rise of black political power in eastern North Carolina during his youth, his father believed in treating blacks fairly.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. 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

CHARLES EAGLES:
What made you apply that to race where he couldn't, then?
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
I must say, Charlie, we're living in different times. I hadn't ever seen the sort of uprising of the blacks and the pressing down of the whites that occurred in the black belt of North Carolina in his youth, when the congressman from his district was a black and the whites were disenfranchised. The only person who could get a federal job was his mother, who hadn't done anything to aid the Confederacy. There's an environmental difference there. But I think that my interest in the blacks grew to a large extent from his feeling for the underprivileged. While he was editor, they had a lottery in Ahoskie. The American Legion put on a lottery. A black man won it; it was an automobile.
CHARLES EAGLES:
[Laughter]
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
And there were some people down there said, "Well, he can't have it." Well, the News and Observer and my father just raised holy hell. He'd won the damn lottery, and it would be robbery to take it away from him. And that sort of thing, there weren't any questions in his mind. And he was always violently opposed to lynching, and I think quite honestly. A very gentle man, very gentle man who could fight like hell. So many of these characters in history and in life are so complicated, Charlie, and it's hard to look from where you sit to where he stood. [Interruption]