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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 >>

Promoting racial understanding in Germany

Betsch traveled to Germany after graduating from Oberlin College in 1955. She missed the direct protest of the civil rights movement in the United States, but advanced interracial understanding "in an indirect way" on the other side of the Atlantic.

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:
When you came home from Oberlin or from Europe.
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
From Europe.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
So—
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
From Oberlin it was still, well, '55 don't forget—when did they have that integrated. What was that Brown versus—
KIERAN TAYLOR:
'54.
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
'54, okay I graduated '55, but I go directly to Europe. So I'm not really noticing too much what's going on. I missed a lot of the fights. I mean, like my brother was in jail and all this other stuff. I don't remember any of that. But I as doing my own thing over there because I remember can you imagine I'm the only black woman in Germany. I mean, I'm for the cause. They would come in and say Frau Betsch, Frau Betsch remember when the woman got the gold medal, the black woman, Wilma.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Rudolph—
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
Yeah, Rudolph. I mean, the whole theater was alive. There's Frau Betsch. This is someone from America, dadadadada, black American. So I was doing it in an indirect way. They were so proud. Well, here was this African American singing in Germany. Dadada, don't forget now. There weren't that many Americans period in that '50s in Europe.
KIERAN TAYLOR:
Sure. This is ten years after the Holocaust.
MA VYNNE BETSCH:
Yeah, I'm still, I'm like Queen Tut over there. There weren't that many. I'm in the northern part of Germany, not the southern part, where you may have had a few of the military. They would see black people there but they hadn't seen that many blacks in the northern. But no, my brother and sister were more part of that integration. I missed all that. I'm in Europe now. Don't forget when I come home it's '65. So the worst part is over. The Selma—