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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Reasons for joining the anti-lynching movement

Ethridge focuses specifically on her views on lynching and her reasons for joining the anti-lynching movement. Ethridge is unable to identify at what point in her life she became cognizant of racism; however, she argues here that she saw lynching as a violation against law and order.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Willie Snow Ethridge, December 15, 1975. Interview G-0024. 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

LEE KESSLER:
Well I know this is probably a hard question to answer, because it's sometimes hard to remember what you felt so long ago, but what were your reasons to be against lynching? Was it because it was in violation of law and order?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Yes.
LEE KESSLER:
Or because it was an example of racism?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Well, I felt about it on both scores very, very strongly. Of course it's against all law and order. But also, the people who were being lynched weren't given a fair trial. And I never heard of a white person being lynched in our part of the world; it was always a black. And it always had something to do with … well, with just ill feeling, just jealousy or meanness of whites. Yet in those days, you know, way back there, I'm shocked at myself when I read As I Live And Breathe, how unconscious I was about the injustice to the blacks. I wrote a lot about the blacks in As I Live And Breathe, but always just as if they were, you know, neighbors and friends. I never thought about how sad and tragic their lives were. I was completely unconscious socially [laughter] , if you know what I mean. I grew up, you know, in that environment.
LEE KESSLER:
When did you become aware that things weren't all that fine and dandy?
WILLIE SNOW ETHRIDGE:
Well I must have when I began working for Anti-Lynching. But I wasn't as conscious as I could have been about the poverty of those people, and the fact that the schools… [Interruption] I don't know, it just dawned on me during the years, because I certainly didn't grow up with it. Never troubled about it terrifically until the movement started against lynching. So I can't say how it developed.