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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Country life exposes Ray to segregation within the black community

Ray remembers not being concerned about segregation in her childhood because she lived in a community without many white-only facilities and with relatively few black families. She noticed segregation more between incoming black families who did not want to associate with older black neighbors. Her family dealt with these restrictions by going to parts of the city and neighborhood where they would not be rejected.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. 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, I'm curious about-what about the teachers in the colored school, did they ever talk about why the schools were segregated or anything like that?
GERALDINE RAY:
No, that's something . . . I mean you knew it was segregated, you knew you was going to your school, you knew if you walked up the street you didn't drink from the water fountain, you . . . well, as I again, there again, I had more segregation away from home than I did at home where I was surrounded. But, they never really said a whole lot in the schools at that particular time about it.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
What did you think about the fact that water fountains, as you say and things like that were segregated, did it bother you?
GERALDINE RAY:
It didn't bother me 'cause I never drank out of em noway. So, I just;well, you know it's some things you did and some things you didn't do and that was one thing. Well, they had; city water was out here. We had well water. Well water was so much better than city water and it was more pure, so I hardly ever drank any water away from home.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Is this still well water out here?
GERALDINE RAY:
No, this is city water.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
How about inside the downtown areas of Weaverville and Asheville, were they segregated too?
GERALDINE RAY:
Yes, they was segregated and you still have a bunch here that would be segregated if they could get by with it. But, there are so few of us they don't pay us any attention. But, now since integration has started, you've got a lot of blacks that's living around here, but they don't 'sociate with the blacks that was already here.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Because, they're movin in . . .
GERALDINE RAY:
They movin in. You see em they pass and repass and some of em hardly ever speak to you. So, we not bothered with that. You knew who was segregated and you had a certain class of the blacks that didn't want you to come in their front door. You was segregated by them. And so, that's just the way it was. See, a lot of em had a lotta white in em, so there really wasn't a whole lot they could say, you see.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
A lot of the . . .
GERALDINE RAY:
The blacks was mixed in with the whites.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
But, they still weren't allowed to go certain places?
GERALDINE RAY:
They wasn't allowed to go certain places.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
So, if you went shopping in Asheville, for example . . .
GERALDINE RAY:
You went-You knew where you was welcome, you knew where you weren't. So, you had a tendency to go where you knew you could go and not be bothered. Like we had-what we used to call the block; which was Eagle street and Market street, which is still there.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
The streets are still there?
GERALDINE RAY:
Yeah.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Are they still predominantly black?
GERALDINE RAY:
Yes, and they call em the block but it's mixtry now [I believe this means it's a mixed street now]
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
It's mixed now?
GERALDINE RAY:
Yes, I mean you see white down there now as well as you do blacks. Those were the places- and South side, you had South side which was predominantly black, you had Hill street which was predominantly black, Mountain street and all of those little far away places-Shiloh where granddaddy and them used to live at one time.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Shiloh?
GERALDINE RAY:
Uhhuh.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Was that in Asheville?
GERALDINE RAY:
That's in North Asheville-No, not North Asheville, South Asheville.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
Did you ever think that race relations would change the way that they have around here?
GERALDINE RAY:
No, not really. Because, as you have-as I said as the older generation dies out you don't have as much of it, but you have it from the people movin in. Now, the younger ones that has grown up since I; my kids have grown up they don't have the malice like some of their foreparents. And you had some of them foreparents-everything was supposed to stay the same and that's what they wanted. You were black you go in the back door, you ride in the back seat. That's the way it was and see when you grow up with that, you don't think nothing about it. I mean that's just an everyday life thing, you just go on and do.
KELLY ELAINE NAVIES:
It didn't make you mad at all?
GERALDINE RAY:
Naw, what's the use in gettin' mad. It didn't help you none.