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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Bowman and his brother defied segregation on a bus as children

Bowman and his brother once refused to move from the white section of a segregated bus. That decision was significant because they defied the system before there was a major movement for integration and while they were still in grade school.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Richard Bowman, July 8, 1998. Interview K-0513. 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

KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, that experience at the Picadilly Club-was that the first time that something like that had happened to you?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Yeah, that was the first time. In Asheville, my brother-we were riding the bus-the bus ran from the black section of town to the white section of town and of course it would always fill up-and say for example-this night we were coming from the movie and when we got on the bus near the black section of town, all of the seats were filled up in the back so we just filled on up to the front and we got up at Pritchard Park-one of the white sections and also close to where we lived, the seats emptied and some whites came and sat behind my brother and the driver wanted my brother to get up and move back but there were no seats back there. And I told him no, not to get up-this was before they had all the things about integration. And uh, [KN: interjects to ask: This is your younger brother? RB: No, my younger brother.] So, the driver told him again-I said, "no, he's not getting up out of this seat." So anyway, when we got to the end of the route-they usually open the back door so we can get out, but the bus driver wouldn't open the back door he opened the front door-so, I had to go by him and when I went by him he told me-he said, uh he wasn't gon do anything this time, but if it ever happened again, it would be the last time I would do something like that.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Really?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Yeah.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Last time-period you would do something like that!
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Yeah, the last time.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
That's quite a threat.
RICHARD BOWMAN:
It is, and so I just got off the bus and that's it.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
That was pretty brave of you-how old were you then?
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Oh, let's see-I couldn'ta-I had t have been probably about fifteen years old or something like that. I was young. I was in high school.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, you were challenging the system.
RICHARD BOWMAN:
Yeah, there and like I said with the library. Cause, I just never had any fear, you know.