Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reaction to daughter's interracial relationship

Thorbs offers his reactions to his daughter's marriage to a white man. Thorbs explains that he and his wife were initially opposed to the union because they believed their daughter should marry within the African American race. She married him despite their objections and they welcomed him into their family despite their earlier opposition. Thorbs's daughter had met her husband while away at school and they eventually settled in Iowa. Thorbs does not offer a specific date for when the marriage occurred, but based on other indications in the interview it likely happened sometime during the 1960s or 1970s.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leslie Thorbs, May 30, 2001. Interview K-0589. 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

Then I've got one daughter [who] lives out in Iowa. I reckon you hear talk of that Iowa is way, way away from here.
LEDA HARTMAN:
Where is that?
LESLIE THORBS:
Way on the other side of Minnesota.
BETTY HOWES:
Iowa.
LESLIE THORBS:
A place called Iowa somewhere. That's where my daughter stayed. She went out there. She met a man out there. He is home from overseas, a white guy. They were going to the same school. They got to going together, and so she called back home. We didn't know she had any idea to get married. Really, back thenߞ. I'm like this. I've got nothing against white folks because I have some white folks who have done more for me than any black people you've seen. I really think a lot of them. I just tell the truth. I really didn't want her to marry the man because he was white. I felt like she was black. Stay in her race. But I know it's getting, isn't any difference. You understand what I'm talking about? So she said, 'Well daddy, if you and mama don't want me to marry him, I'm going to marry him anyhow'. Well there wasn't anything we could do. But after she married him, I'll tell the truth, he is just one of the best white men you ever saw. I don't believe I need it. It wouldn't be anything I'd call on that he wouldn't give me.
LEDA HARTMAN:
So now do you feel differently aboutߞ?
LESLIE THORBS:
Yeah. Yeah. See, I didn't have anything different against whites. But you know, I justߞ. Like this, I was just saying, 'Well, you just stay in your own color.' But I know that we're getting to the time and getting to the place that black marrying white, white marrying black. After I got used to him and he came down here and he did more work for me than my own children would do. So that's just the way it is. I believe if I want anything, he would give it to me. That's what I say about him. He's just as nice as everything.