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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Glennon Threatt, June 16, 2005. Interview U-0023. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Continuing taboo on interracial romance

There was no interracial dating at Indian Springs High School, the predominantly white boarding school Threatt attended for four years. There, and at Princeton at the end of the 1960s, African Americans risked ostracization by other African Americans for dating white people. Threatt muses briefly on the slow progress of acceptance of interracial relationships and the difficulties that the children of such relationships face.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Glennon Threatt, June 16, 2005. Interview U-0023. 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:
We like to ask about interracial dating, did you see any going on at Indian Springs?
GLENNON THREATT:
Oh hell no [Laughter] No! No man, if that would have happened at Indian Springs, you would have gotten a beat down. They wouldn't have-
KIMBERLY HILL:
Really?
GLENNON THREATT:
No, no that wasn't accepted. Also, you got to remember at the end of the 1960's it wouldn't have been so much the white folks, but other black people would have ostracized you for dating outside your race. When I went to Princeton it was at the end of the revolutionary movement, the black students were still wearing army fatigues and carrying Chairman Mao's quotations around. It was very, very different. We were at sort of the tail end of the revolutionary movement because of the takeovers at Columbia and other schools like that, so interracial dating was not acceptable. You started to see it more my senior year at Princeton and now it's very common, not just at Princeton or Indian Springs, but in public schools as well. It did not go on, it just wasn't accepted.
KIMBERLY HILL:
On either side?
GLENNON THREATT:
No, no, no. If a black guy had gone out with a white girl and another black girl found out about it, they would have never dated you.
KIMBERLY HILL:
Did you have any sense that the administration at either school was putting some kind of racial-
GLENNON THREATT:
None at all, we weren't dating when we were at Elyton because I was only thirteen when I got out of there, but at Indian Springs there was no pressure from the administration there. It was a very, very liberal environment, but it just wasn't something that was socially acceptable.
KIMBERLY HILL:
Even on things besides dating like maybe befriending other white students?
GLENNON THREATT:
Oh sure, I went home to visit some of the kids that went to school with me. I was friends with them and still am to this day. As to whether or not I would have dated their sister? No. I had one bad experience involving interracial dating in Indian Springs. We had gone to Martinsville, Virginia to sing in a high school there, it was an all white school. I met some girls there that were in their choir. They put us up, when we would travel to these different places the communities where we would sing, either the churches or the schools would try and get parents to house us so that we wouldn't have to get hotels. We stayed with some family there in Martinsville, Virginia and I met a girl from that high school who was in their choir who was white, and we talked and stuff. Then their choir came down here the next year to sing in Birmingham and we hosted them at Indian Springs. We started talking, I mean we couldn't really date because we were living in different states. I remember one of the guys in the choir telling me that-and I had considered him to be my friend until this incident, he thought that it was a bad idea for me to be talking to her. I was really, really surprised by that because I thought he was cool and I did not expect him to have that reaction.
KIMBERLY HILL:
Just because you talked to her too often?
GLENNON THREATT:
Well, he saw me with her when they came to our campus. She was a very attractive girl, and he remembered her.
KIMBERLY HILL:
So after that you didn't talk much with him anymore?
GLENNON THREATT:
No, no, sure didn't. Haven't really spoken to him since that happened and that's been thirty five years ago now. Yeah, some things don't change. The acceptability of . . . I'll give you an interesting statistic. The last statistic that I saw on interracial marriages in the United States, ninety percent of them the man was black. So when it becomes really accepted, then it will be relatively even. It won't be black men dating white women, it'll be black people dating white people and marrying white people.
KIMBERLY HILL:
You know, we're not there yet.
GLENNON THREATT:
No we're not there yet. There are certain cities in the United States that are more favorable for interracial relationships and people know that and they move there. I have a couple of friends that are an interracial couple, they moved to Seattle from Texas because they are more accepted there. Denver is a city where interracial couples are accepted, so a lot of people that date or married interracially move there for that reason. The thing about interracial dating is that when you have kids, your kids really catch it. I have a real good friend here in Birmingham, who is a woman who is the product of an interracial marriage. She caught hell growing up, because she grew up in South Central Los Angeles and her mother was the only white person that she said lived in Compton. She went to three or four high schools because of the problems that she had being accepted. She was neither white nor black, and I can imagine what it must have been like growing up in South Central Los Angeles in the late 1960's and early 1970's, with a black daddy and blue eyes.