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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Changing nature of race relations over the course of the 20th century

Young ruminates about the progress made during her lifetime regarding the situation for African Americans in the South. According to Young, the reason that African Americans did not have more leadership roles within such organizations as the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching was because the ramifications of racism and segregation had prevented them from acquiring the abilities necessary for leadership. Young describes "race" as a real condition and she cites the legacy of slavery as particularly influential in shaping people's ideas about race. She believed that real progress had occurred over the course of the twentieth century and that because access to education had expanded, African Americans had a more prominent role in race organizations, such as the Southern Regional Council, later on.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Louise Young, February 14, 1972. Interview G-0066. 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

ROBERT HALL:
I know that the Association was mainly, well, all white women, but in the women's division of the Commission, there were black women in this weren't there?
LOUISE YOUNG:
Yes indeed.
ROBERT HALL:
How important a part did they play in the Inter-racial Commission? Were they . . .
LOUISE YOUNG:
I think the INter-racial Commission was dominated by the white people. I think the Southern Regional Council has given Negroes much more leadership opportunity, much more participation.
ROBERT HALL:
That's not much.
LOUISE YOUNG:
Not much? . . . I mean, after all I think that a big part of this story is, when Negroes had come since sixty-five, there were a number of them that were educated, a number of them that have written books . . . and that have been exposed to enough of the world and succeeded enough in it to have ambition, I think that the Negro now is very different from the Negroes I knew in my childhood. And they deserve a different type of treatment. They can live up to different tasks to make these things, to expect these things of Negroes when I was a child would just be absurd or to imagine them. They weren't ready for them. They had had just one generation of education for the most part, even elementary education. And now there are many Negroes that come from homes of education so that they, I think that . . . [END OF SIDE FOUR] . . . high . . . there's a higher visibility of the Negro so that he didn't get into the mainstream. I think there are two things that make the Negro different, the Negro situation different, are his slavery background which is inevitably in both his mind and the white person's mind and his color. When you see me you don't know whether I, my folks a hundred years ago came from Scotland or Ireland or France or Russia or where they came from. But when you see a Negro you know he came from Africa, and you know he came from slavery. And they can't get away from either one of those things, in their own minds or in the minds of whites. It's real . . . if we could manage it, why it . . . And I remember the way things were. When I went to Paine for instance and where they are now you thought that we'd come along but you'd never dream that we could come this far in my lifetime frankly.