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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Martina Dunford, February 18, 1999. Interview K-0142. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Impact of rapidly growing Latino population on African American community

Dunford discusses the impact of the rapidly growing Latino population on the African American community in Edgemont during the 1990s. According to Dunford, Latino people were willing to take jobs that African Americans no longer desired to accept, resulting in little economic conflict between the two groups. In addition, Dunford expresses her disappointment that the Edgemont Community Center, at that point, had had little success in addressing the needs of Latino people and involving them in the Center's activities.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Martina Dunford, February 18, 1999. Interview K-0142. 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

ALICIA ROUVEROL:
And as you're saying before, then what happens once you have the Latino community here—
MARTINA DUNFORD:
Exactly.
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
—moving into the community. What have you seen in the nine years that you have been here? What was it like when—
MARTINA DUNFORD:
Well, to have another culture move into—like I was saying before, you just can't afford—right now the African American community sort of feels like, Okay, so what? We don't have the time or energy to figure out what they want or why they're here—what their purpose is—when we're so busy trying to straighten our own situations out. Do they threaten us? It's starting to begin to be that way. You can't really blame them, because they've even had in many cases less than we've had recently. We've experienced that back in slavery, in that period of time. As we grew older or as things started to reconstruct we—and taking on that European culture and idea about having things and doing things in a different way—we've sort of advanced. Now they seem to be the minorities. They're coming in with less than what we have now, which makes them feel like whatever they're doing is gaining ground. So they'll work at menial jobs for pennies, whereas—not that the African American won't, but they just feel that personally, ‘Now I deserve more. There's rights that say I deserve more.’ And when you become knowledgeable of what is required—that belongs to you, and is of yours, and you have opportunity to receive—then you don't take less. It's not that we don't want to work in the fields, in the streets, or as a trash collector, or whatever they call the demeaning jobs or whatever. It's just that it's gotten to the point where, why do we have to work all these jobs when all the white people are working all these desk jobs and getting all the better education? Now we've come to a point that we realize that we don't have to do that. I have an opportunity to get an education and have a desk job, and make $100,000 and live in Hope Valley. So now it's like, No, I don't want to do that, I want to do this. But now you've got the Hispanic and the Latino community coming in with not having those opportunities, and once they realize where it's getting—once they realize that because you now as an American citizen have rights—and the right to get an education and become the boss and not have to be enslaved all over again. Then they'll start, ‘I don't want to do this anymore.’
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Right, there will just be a time when—
MARTINA DUNFORD:
Exactly—where it is now. So to ask to answer whether they threaten us or not, I don't really think so. But do we really care at this point in time? I don't know. That's sort of a question that has to be polled, because it depends on where you are educationally, where you are economically, where you are with a lot of issues as to whether they are. But this community itself does not serve a number of Latinos or Hispanics, and that's unfortunate, really, because they do live in the area. I mean, they live within walking distance of this building. But they don't come down to share [Phone ringing]
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Do you want me to pause this?
MARTINA DUNFORD:
They don't come in to receive services. I don't know whether it's because they don't know they're here, they don't think they're welcome, or the media and all the other press that's pumped it up to be, ‘It's not the place you want to hang out at.’
ALICIA ROUVEROL:
Interesting. And so because Edgemont Community Center—it sounds like serviced initially whites primarily and then African Americans?
MARTINA DUNFORD:
Exactly.