Segregated upbringing makes relating to whites difficult
Beavers had trouble relating to white people when he left Savannah at age eighteen, he recalls. He eventually learned that while he did not understand white people, they did not understand him either.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Leroy Beavers, August 8, 2002. Interview R-0170. 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 my father, I
owe everything to my father, man. It isn't anything in this
world because I've been in the Army, and I've
learned a lot of things, but initially my mother and father they put
what's in here now today, and I thank them so dearly for it,
and West Broad Street now. I'm going to tell you right now, I
learned a lot from the street here. Some things you can learn in school,
but there are some things out here you can't learn in school.
You can't learn that. The things I learn out here. What I
learned out on West Broad Street prior to eighteen years old helped me
when I left Savannah, Georgia, how to deal with people socially. The
only thing I couldn't really, really deal with a lot my first
time away was white people because I never dealt with white people
before. See now white people are more or less
unforgiving in a sense like what the hell he saying. What the hell you
come from? What are you talking about? Seemed like everybody else and
them understand why in the hell can't you understand what
I'm saying. It's crazy, and then I had a couple of
friends, one white guy, befriended me. His name was Jerry Gillespie from
Pennsylvania, and he loved to play soccer. I didn't know
anything about soccer. I haven't heard about soccer. We were
roommates, and I just, I tell Jerry straight up now I said,
"Jerry I was talking a white guy one day and something I said
and the white guy said that guy looked kind of stupid and
didn't understand why he called me stupid. I thought I was
talking, I really wasn't talking that much, just a regular
conversation." Jerry explained it to me. He said,
"Leroy, it's not that you're stupid.
It's just that they don't understand you because
they haven't been around black guys." Then
that's what really cracked it for me right there. I said,
"Okay now I understand that." In other words we both
have to feel each other out in order to be something together. But I
learned it right here on West Broad Street, everything I learned.
Everything that took me on my travels around the world, got it right