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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brown, June 17, 2005. Interview U-0019. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Segregation is "just dumb"

Brown remembers that segregation placed limits on the cultural lives of black southerners, preventing them from attending concerts and sporting events. She thinks the very idea of segregation is "just dumb."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brown, June 17, 2005. Interview U-0019. 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

For a while during, that's another thing I remind my students. You couldn't get any kind of Broadway show down here because it wasn't integrated. They weren't going to bring their people down here. One of the most stirring concerts I went to was Leontyne Price. She was the first black headliner person that came to the city. Of course there was a sell out. It had been integrated so before that, but there hadn't been any. She was so electrifying. When she sang, I don't know I can't remember which song she sang. It was either the national anthem or America the Beautiful. It went, of course with that voice. It would've, but to me it was a very, it was a highlight concert that, and it was for the people that came who loved opera and loved good, that kind of music and weren't, no one was coming because of this stupid segregation stuff. And no baseball teams and no sports events, nothing. You can get to, it wasn't anything, our cultural life was very limited shall we say.
KIMBERLY HILL:
[unclear]
ELIZABETH BROWN:
Because of this stupid segregation rules and so on. I try to point that out to the kids by giving some of the, I probably make it up, the headliners, some stupid name, would you like to see a concert by such and such.
KIMBERLY HILL:
One of the people at City Stage is [unclear] .
ELIZABETH BROWN:
Oh yeah. Oh yeah.
KIMBERLY HILL:
Many of them wouldn't be able to come.
ELIZABETH BROWN:
No, that's so far removed from these kids. They have no idea. The thing about separate water fountains and all that stuff is just so dumb. I remember there was a great columnist for the Atlanta Constitution, and it was a white person but he was saying the, we could integrate these schools very quickly by taking away desks. He said, now think about this. When the grocery lines were integrated. I went to the bank and those lines were integrated. It seems when white people sit down, that's when they don't want to integrate. If we would just take away the desks and the pews and the seats, we would have no problem with integration. He always did it in a way that would make fun of it. I would read that to the kids and talk about it.
KIMBERLY HILL:
That's interesting.
ELIZABETH BROWN:
I wish I could remember his name because he was famous at the time for his humorous solution to southern problem, but that was the funniest thing. Take away the desks. No one minds standing in line. It's when you sit down is when the problems begin.