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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Racial paternalism posed limitations but also provided benefits for blacks

Daniels argues that although his parents subscribed to the racial codes of the day, their paternalism did provide an economic benefit to blacks. The subject of paternalism is evaluated later in the interview.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Jonathan Worth Daniels, March 9-11, 1977. Interview A-0313. 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

CHARLES EAGLES:
What were your parents like individually? Were your mother and father quite a bit alike?
JONATHAN WORTH DANIELS:
Very much alike, and yet they were people of very definite personalities. For instance, my mother was a Presbyterian; my father was a Methodist. But neither one ever joined the other's church. And they would alternate on Sundays--he would go with her to the Presbyterian; she would go to the Methodist--but they stayed in their own church. My father didn't believe in baptizing little children. He waited until the youngest was about eight. Then they baptized them, and she took two and he took two. [Laughter] But they were lovely people. In connection with what you're writing, my father was one of the most gentle and determined people on fairness to blacks of anybody I ever knew. Our next-door neighbor was a man named Wesley Hoover, who I think my grandmother taught to read and write. He'd become fairly wealthy operating a saloon, which, of course, was much against my father's principles, but he respected Wesley Hoover. And he would give Wesley Hoover every courtesy in the world, except, of course, he could never call him "Mr. Hoover." There were these little fragile, almost unexplainable taboos that existed. But my mother operated at her back porch--now remember, back porch--what would be the equivalent of the WPA today, or the center of federal charity. And black who came to her back door--and many did--got food and what he needed. But the separation was complete and yet very friendly, so realized that there had become an acceptance of the status quo between the blacks and the whites. And maybe that was a period of subserviency by the blacks and arrogance by the whites. But for a little period there, at least at my childhood--and many, many of my playmates were black--there wasn't any feeling of surface antagonism, at least, or hostility.