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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A librarian refuses service to a black youth

Green remembers one example of the breadth of segregation: a librarian at the University of North Carolina refused to lend a book to an African-American youth.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. 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

I was interested in The Enchanted Maze.
Oh, what a play. [Laughter]
What did that play come out of? How did you view this University? Have your views of the University changed over the time, have you been more or less critical of it?
Well, the young people … I know that they come out here and you are young and you can see old people like me and see where they are missing it. I came up here and was very much like Jude the Obscure who looked toward the dream city of Oxford or Cambridge where he might go to school some day and this place to me was the light on the hill. So, when I got up here and got close by, I found that it was more human and the first thing I thought was, "Gee, this is wrong." When I was a student here, I saw a little Negro boy come into the library with a note, I was there at the desk getting a book. This little fellow handed the note to the librarian and she said, "I'm sorry." And then she handed it back to him. Well, I got interested and maybe my sympathies were with the little black boy already and I asked her, "Do you mind telling me what it was?" He said, "He is a school teacher, a Negro school teacher that wrote a note and wanted to borrow a book and we are not allowed to lend them." I said, "Oh, " … of course, I said it in language too strong for her, I said, "I know …" I said that I knew, I really didn't, but I said, "I know that that boy's granddaddy built this place. He toted the mortar and moved the rocks." So, I went to see the dean or somebody, there wasn't a chancellor then, and they looked at me as if I was from another planet. So in no time, I fell afoul of this place.
When did this happen, in the early '20s?
That was in 1919 or 1920. It was incredible and right on up to the recent times. Why couldn't they do that?