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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Jim Crow facilities prompt interest in a legal career

Beech's interest in becoming an attorney grew out of the hypocrisy of Jim Crow segregation at the city courthouse. The legacy of Jim Crow limited the conceivable possibilities of blacks' occupational choices.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Harvey E. Beech, September 25, 1996. Interview J-0075. 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

ANITA FOYE:
So, as early as 1944, you knew you wanted to be an attorney?
HARVEY E. BEECH:
Yes. I always did. The reason I wanted to be an attorney, was at Kinston they had a courthouse on the corner of King and Queen, where there was artesian water. Artesian water comes out of a spring, naturally; no pump, no electricity or anything. It just comes up. And they had captured it, and they had pure, artesian water. Non-motorized or anything. And on one side, they had "White," and on the other side they had "Colored." And I couldn't understand it, in front of the courthouse. And then on top of the courthouse, they had the lady, what do you call it? The scales of justice? She was holding them just as beautiful, equal justice to all, and right on, within 50 feet of that, "White" and "Colored." I, there was a great hypocrisy about what I see, as a child, this was when I was in high school, and I just didn't understand that. I told the Lord, I didn't understand why he was so unfair.