Manners insulate black woman against racism
McAllister remembers representing West Charlotte at an award ceremony hosted by the Daughters of the American Revolution. She imagines the group was pretty surprised to see a black woman show up at the ceremony, but her excellent manners—learned from her father, who worked at a country club—helped her feel comfortable there.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Latrelle McAllister, June 25, 1998. Interview K-0173. 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
Oh, that was another thing. I forgot about that. I got the opportunity to represent the high school at the Citizen of the Year for the Daughters of the American Revolution. So, you can imagine that kind of shook things up when my mother and I went into the, I think, Myers Park Country Club. I think we were the only two black folks in there. [Laughter] And, I don’t know that the Daughters of the American Revolution knew what color I was, either. That was Miss Belton’s doing I’m sure. [Laughter] So, I did get the opportunity to have a lot of rich experiences that I really do treasure.
PG: What was that like for you? Did you think that is was going to be surprising when you arrived?
LM: [Pause] You know, I think part of it has to do with the fact--. You know this is the same mother that went with me—that turned the place out in Mississippi. I don’t think she thought about it or cared.
LM: One of the things that my parents--. And you know it’s amazing, I was thinking about this recently. My father worked in a country club and that gave him a real good sense of how things were done properly: etiquette, foods. He’d always try to expose me to different foods and that kind of thing. I never felt out of place. I knew that I knew how to eat a full course meal and knew which fork was the right fork and which fork--. You know, not to talk with food in my mouth and what to do with my napkin, so I didn’t feel uncomfortable there.
I had a sense--. I just wasn’t uncomfortable so we really didn’t think about that. I think, probably we really didn’t realize the impact until after we’d left. And I said, “They probably didn’t expect me to be what I was.” But, they were very cordial and hospitable. I don’t think that there was any thought about taking the award away. But, we didn’t realize the significance of it until after the ceremony honoring the award recipients had passed.