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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

"Segregation" during a civil rights march

Tyler again emphasizes her perception of the Black Power movement and its impact on interracial alliances within the civil rights movement. In this instance, Tyler specifically relates her discussion to the 1988 march in celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, during which she argues black and white marchers were "definitely segregated."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080. 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

TERRI MYERS:
A lot of people are, it must have seemed like things were changing with the federal court rulings and different things that were liberal, little successes, I guess, all along. And you must have known that things were changing. Something was in the air. When did that end or how did that end? How do you feel like it ended?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It ended with, and I don't know when it started, it ended with the move to black power.
TERRI MYERS:
The feeling of camaraderie?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes.
TERRI MYERS:
Black and white together, and then all of a sudden it was more black militant.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
My best friends, I could say, were black, Vivian. And Vivian still is the only friend I've got in the black community now.
TERRI MYERS:
You mean living here, your best friends were black.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
I can't really say that, but my good friends were black. (
TERRI MYERS:
And Vivian is the only one who remained?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes. And Wilma Peebles, but our relationship was quite different.
TERRI MYERS:
Did you feel rejected by your friends or by some friends, or they moved away from having white friends?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It's funny. It became the thing to do. And I think we could understand that, but we didn't feel rejected. We just felt that that was what they needed to do.
TERRI MYERS:
People made a conscious break?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Oh yes. We didn't make it, but they did. And I think it hit more forcefully at the time of Martin Luther King's birthday march. Where we used to start, the old capitol grounds, the auditorium, and we walked the whole way without a single black person beside us. That was the strangest thing.
TERRI MYERS:
Martin Luther King's birthday?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
Yes, the rally. The last one.
TERRI MYERS:
His last one, January of this year, 1988. So marching in remembrance of Martin Luther King's birthday, you marched the whole way without - there were other white people involved in the march?
PHYLLIS TYLER:
No one spoke to them either. We were definitely segregated. [Laughter] And I think it's fine because I think we have to experience what they've experienced for centuries.
TERRI MYERS:
Still kind of sad though.
PHYLLIS TYLER:
It is sad, yes. I think Vivian takes chances in being our friend. [Laughter]