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Oral History Interview with Geraldine Ray, September 13, 1977. Interview R-0128. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Geraldine Ray is a lifelong resident of Barnardsville, North Carolina, a small town near Asheville. Ray describes her childhood and young adulthood caring for her disabled grandmother, working on the family farm, and attending all-black segregated schools. She recalls racial segregation as relatively easy to avoid compared to the segregation and prejudice that her black neighbors practiced based on skin tone. She devoted most of her time to school work, raising livestock, cooking, and helping to plant tobacco. She learned these skills from her grandmother because her parents left the state while Geraldine was young. Geraldine briefly lived with her father in Cincinnati before returning to Barnardsville to care for her grandmother. She sacrificed her love of education and desire for a career to nurse her relatives and friends through several illnesses, though she also endured health problems. The interview ends with discussions about her marriage to childhood friend J. T. Ray, her two miscarriages, and raising her two children.
    Excerpts
  • Segregated primary school has fewer resources than the local all-black high school
  • Comparing Ray's childhood with white children to her time at an all-black high school
  • Ray's grandfather had white ancestry but did not discuss race relations
  • Country life exposes Ray to segregation within the black community
  • Family uses herbal remedies instead of doctors
  • Skills learned from grandmother while young
  • Working to help provide for the family farm
  • Production and struggle on grandparents' farm
  • Caring for friends and family prevents Ray from attending college
  • Absent mother results in missing life lessons
  • Moving in with husband after falling ill
  • Regular church attendance seen as family tradition
  • Black high school teaches Bible verses and devotionals
  • Adjusting parenting styles as adults based on childhood experiences
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • Family--North Carolina--Social life and customs--20th century
  • North Carolina--Race relations--20th century
  • African American women--North Carolina--History--20th century
  • African Americans--Segregation--North Carolina
  • Buncombe County (N.C.)
  • Ray, Geraldine
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.