A subtle style of racism in North Carolina
Charlotte, and North Carolina as a whole, are subtly racist, Tapia notes. Integration went relatively smoothly, and there was little reaction upon news of Martin Luther King's assassination.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Brenda Tapia, February 2, 2001. Interview K-0476. 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
- JONETTA JOHNSON:
And so what was the main political thing going on at the time?
- REVEREND BRENDA TAPIA:
The thing, the political thing that was going on was very interesting
because it has now come full circle. I realize that because of Brown vs.
the Board of Education, the decision to desegregate schools, they had a
choice. They really had a choice between the desegregating the schools
or desegregating the community, and they decided to work with the
schools as opposed to the community. Now we are back to this
community-based school, which is going to take us, bring that issue back
to the front again. Politically, umm, otherwise, if you're
talking about demonstrations and reactions, there were none. The
demonstrations came, with umm, right after the Brown vs. Board of
Education decision when, I think it was 1957, that
was in 1954. In 1957, they decided to integrate the first white schools,
because I went in 1965, that was when I entered into this. But in 1957,
Dorothy Counts, whose daughter graduated from here a couple of years
ago, Nicole Scoggins, because Dorothy married a Scoggins, so, but umm,
they decided to let her be the one student that was going to integrate
one of the high schools. And umm, I think she lasted four days, because
she experienced more of what you see in the tapes of the civil rights
movement. People name- calling and throwing spitballs and stuff, there
weren't any dogs.
Charlotte was, North Carolina in general, was a very subtle racist state.
When I say subtle, they would much rather do something subtle, then to
be overt with their racism. And if your eyes are not open, if you are
not really paying attention you won't realize
what's going on. So even, I was very surprised to learn,
because I wasn't here, I was already in college - when King
died, there was no reaction here. Other cities, you know, there was
anger, there was protests. The only thing that seemed to be going on in
Davidson, and it's interesting that I was here maybe a week
or so after it happened, was the barber shop here in Davidson, that got
some nationally publicity in terms of students protesting. That was
typical North Carolina, as backwards racism.
Because according to the man who owned the barber shop, they made it
look as though it was his decision, as a black man, not to cut black
hair in a white barber shop. When, he didn't make the law,
they did, all he was doing was knowing if didn't enforce the
law, he'd lose his customers, therefore he'd lose
business. It was nothing that he really had control over. Sure, he could
make the decision, since it was his business, to let blacks in, but he
knew what that was going to mean because the law was there,
he'd been braking the law. But, that's the closet
I think there was to any demonstrations around this area.