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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Lemuel Delany, July 15, 2005. Interview R-0346. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Negative consequences of desegregation

Delany argues that "desegregation is a bad word." Ultimately, Delany expresses his belief here that the negative consequences of desegregation—namely the demise of African American social, cultural, and economic institutions—far outweighed its benefits.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Lemuel Delany, July 15, 2005. Interview R-0346. 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

KIMBERLY HILL:
So what did you think when you found out that schools were being desegregated?
LEMUEL DELANY:
Desegregation is a bad word because . . . Why? We had black businesses. We don't have them now. We don't have them now. We don't have them now. We had black hotels, black restaurants, black everything, barber shops, nightclubs. We don't have anything. We don't have that now and everything is owned by the white folks; their money made it. They might call it black, but it's owned, if you check the bottom of it, you'll find out the white man owns it. We don't have that now.
KIMBERLY HILL:
What would you call it instead of desegregation?
LEMUEL DELANY:
I don't have any words for it. I just wish that desegregation does not mean I give up mine to move to you. Hell, you can give up some of yours and move to me. All mine isn't bad and all yours is not good. This is what desegregation is. We give up our black schools. We give up our black teachers. Y'all take them out there to your white schools. Our good black teachers, you take them out to your white schools and let them teach white children. That's what they did when they started. All the number one black teachers were assigned to white schools.
KIMBERLY HILL:
Yeah, I've heard a lot about that.
LEMUEL DELANY:
They were assigned to white schools. That was it. Eventually the black schools closed up. When I say closed up, they, Lucille Hunter School over here where I went to school, the elementary school is still there. But it's no longer a black school. The name was Lucille Hunter School. It's now Hunter School. They have dropped the name Lucille and Lucille Hunter was a black lady. She was a black lady.
KIMBERLY HILL:
They don't want to remember her.