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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Viola Turner, April 15, 1979. Interview C-0015. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Contrasting racial boundaries in the North and in the South

Here, Turner briefly discusses the effects of Jim Crow segregation in the South and she offers a comparison of conditions in the South to those in the North. According to Turner, the absence of rigid Jim Crow segregation in the north "lulled" northern African Americans "into a false notion that they had everything going for them." On the contrary, Turner offers an intriguing argument that clearly demarcated racial boundaries in the South prompted southern blacks to establish their own businesses and venues for leisure activities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Viola Turner, April 15, 1979. Interview C-0015. 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 WEARE:
Was Durham as segregated during this whole period as any Southern city you'd travelled in?
VIOLA TURNER:
Well, to tell you the truth, I had to leave home before I really became aware of how segregated I was, and the things you couldn't do and could do. So I really can't make the proper comparison of Macon. But I'm sure other people could. The only thing I can think-well two things. And this is true all over the South. And the reason why I've always felt that despite all of our handicaps we were far better off than most of the Negroes that lived above the Mason-Dixon Line. Because they got lulled into a false notion that they had everything going for them. And we knew, in front; certainly our parents knew in front and those who came before my generation knew in front that they had nothing going for them, if they didn't make it themselves. So, when I came along, we had a theatre; we had churches; we had ice cream parlors. What else did you have? Schools and things. And that time there wasn't very much more to want.