Dabney's adherence to the separate but equal doctrine
This passage illustrates Dabney's adherence to the separate but equal doctrine. Instead of integrating professional schools, he advocated segregated but equal facilities.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Virginius Dabney, June 10-13, 1975. Interview A-0311-1. 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
- DANIEL JORDAN:
Well, the final category is certainly important, and that's race. We have
some specific questions, but two large sub-categories would be the
interracial movement in the South, of which you were a part, and then
the campaign to desegregate the streetcars. We might start with just a
few specific incidents and situations. One would be the Barbers Bill.
This was before you were the editor, but nonetheless, you had some
feelings about it. What did that entail?
- VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Everytime it came up, I wrote one of my Sunday articles about it. It
entailed an effort on the part of the Barbers Union, which was entirely
white, to institute two things, a Board of Barber Examiners and
examinations that could be rigged so that you couldn't possibly pass
them if they didn't want you to pass. The Board of Barber Examiners was
to be made up of white barbers and the questions were framed by those
barbers and they let the cat out of the bag in a publication which I got
hold of, a union publication. It said flatly that they were getting a
dollar and a half for haircuts in California and if they could just get
this thing in, they could up the price in Virginia. A dollar and a half
in that era, for a haircut, sounded like something out of this world.
There were some sample questions in the barbers' magazine about what to
ask. "How many hairs to the square inch on the average
scalp?" "What is the erecto pilli muscle and what is
its function?" I remember those two. They would get a colored
barber and ask him those things and say, "Well, you don't know
this and you can't barber." So, everytime that it came up, I'd
drag it out and write it all over again and we would defeat it
everytime. Finally, they brought in a bill so mild that
it was passed. My colored barber tells me that it doesn't
bother him at all; it's purely for inspection of the shops by the health
department, which is the way it ought to be. I think they have a board
with two whites and one colored and they are not discriminating against
- DANIEL JORDAN:
Now, you also wrote about the idea of having regional educational
institutions where blacks could go to be trained in medicine and other
professional lines. Could you sort of elaborate on that idea?
- VIRGINIUS DABNEY:
Yes. I think that it came up in veterinary medicine first. It was obvious
that it wasn't feasible to have a school of veterinary medicine in every
state. The idea was broached that you could have a very good one
somewhere and you could send students there, whether white or colored.
Then the idea came that there ought to be a good medical school for
blacks that they could go to, and a good law school and each
participating state would pay the cost of sending a student to that
institution instead of letting them in the white institutions. That
certainly seemed better than nothing. They weren't going to let the
blacks into the white institutions, so that seemed a lot better than
what we had. The year I lectured at Princeton, Professor Edward Corwin,
who was one of the great constitutional authorities, told me that he
thought that was constitutional and I put in Below the
Potomac what he said about it. Of course, it didn't have any
permanent effect, but it was useful for a time and
probably is still in veterinary medicine.