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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mattie Shoemaker and Mildred Shoemaker Edmonds, March 23, 1979. Interview H-0046. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Plenty of racism in a southern town

There is a good deal of racism in the sisters' home town, as indicated by the fact that plenty of white residents use the word "nigger."

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mattie Shoemaker and Mildred Shoemaker Edmonds, March 23, 1979. Interview H-0046. 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

MARY MURPHY:
Were there any Yankees that worked up in the mill?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Yeah, we had them worked up there in the mill.
MARY MURPHY:
How did people react to them?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
I don't know. Me and this one girl, we was always kind of chummy up there. She was from Boston. They lived here and went to Florida. But we got people lives in New Jersey and Delaware and Pennsylvania and all up in there.
MATTIE SHOEMAKER:
Miss , where's she from? New York?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
New York. I've heard mama say her people originated from Pennsylvania. I don't know why the South don't like the niggers, they was raised with them. Wasn't they?
MARY MURPHY:
That's right.
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
We wasn't because where we come from there wasn't no colored people. We'd go here or there and never see a colored person. Just a very few up there now. It's so cold, I guess that's the reason they don't stay. But how do they stay up north?
MARY MURPHY:
There's a lot of them up in the city now.
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Yeah, but you know, honey, how come them up there?
MARY MURPHY:
No.
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Well I'm going to tell you. You know in Georgia and Alabama, and you take North Carolina and South Carolina. If they happen to get an education they couldn't get no job here. You know the war come up. They could get jobs up there. Wasn't against them up there. They give them jobs. That's how come a whole lot of them there. Ain't you heard Miss Foster tell it?
MARY MURPHY:
During the war, they wouldn't give jobs to black people down here?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Uh-uh. No. They was against them. If I'll tell you something, don't you put this thing on there. We was at a place yesterday getting our hair done. But mine don't look like it was just done. But anyway, these women was in there talking. There was three of them. And boy they was going to town about the niggers. Let out about going to church with them. Well that kind of hit me, because they knew I went to church with them. And I said, "Well if you can't go to church with them, how are you going to sit in heaven with them?"
MARY MURPHY:
What did they have to say to that?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Well, this one, she said she knowed she—honey, I don't know what denomination you are—was going to heaven and she would sit up there with them but she sure wasn't going to sit here with them.
MARY MURPHY:
Are there any black people that live around here?
MATTIE SHOEMAKER:
A family lives here on the other end of Cloverdale.
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
And one over on Delaware.
MATTIE SHOEMAKER:
And so down here on Beaumont they's some lives.
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
And I don't hear nothing out of them.
MARY MURPHY:
Do they work up at the mill?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
I don't know where they work.
MARY MURPHY:
How did people feel when they moved into the neighborhood?
MILDRED SHOEMAKER EDMONDS:
Well, they'd say, "Them niggers over ." We used to say colored people. Now they say black. But a lot of them says, niggers. They don't say Negro. They'll say nigger. That don't bother me. And I have heard some of them say, "They won't go to heaven. A nigger wouldn't go to heaven." Said that black was a mark that was sent up on them. Kill such a crazy talk as that. Did you go to church with them?
MARY MURPHY:
There weren't too many in the town where I was raised when I was little.