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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with MaVynee Betsch, November 22, 2002. Interview R-0301. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Backward schools, white and black, in the South

In a passage that reveals the strength of Betsch's political convictions and the circumstances under which they may have been formed, Betsch describes how she adapted her name to suit her beliefs and the backward state of segregated schools in the South.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with MaVynee Betsch, November 22, 2002. Interview R-0301. 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

KIERAN TAYLOR:
Let me just for the sake of the tape if we could start out, if you would just say your name and maybe when and where you were born.
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
My name is Marvene, naw, the spelling is different now because I took the R out. But it, I know spell it M-A—capital V-Y-N-E-E. I took the R out because of Reagan. I am an environmentalist and of course he had the nerve to say when you've seen one redwood, you've seen them all and that infuriated me so. So I took my R out. The middle name is Elizabeth. I changed that because I found out in my, well, I say the last five or six years, that Elizabeth was the one who started the slave trade. Remember in school—oh yes, darling. I have news for you. See I know I had the same thing. Shakespeare, the Elizabethan age. Bull, that woman financed that slave trade. Okay, so I took my middle name out, and my middle name is now Oshun for the goddess of love, the African goddess of love and the arts. My last name is Betsch, B-E-T-S-C-H. That's the German side on my father's side, way back the grandfather, whatever. So and I was born in Jacksonville, 1935. What a year. That's the same year the Afro got American Beach. I like to think they did it for me. Of course it's also the year of the great hurricane. My mother and daddy used to tease each other, well, it's not our fault we've got this eccentric woman, girl who's just into all things that are a little bit different from us. I grew up in Jacksonville, went to the usual public schools, and then my dad was so disgusted with the school system, we went to Washington. So I went to Banneker Junior High School, which is a black school. To show you how the difference between the southern, real southern and even just DC, I mean God we're taking geometry and I'm coming home, and they're just—are you crazy? They didn't have that until the eleventh grade. It's just amazing how backward the south was let alone segregated schools for the African Americans.