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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Barbara Lorie, February 26, 2001. Interview K-0211. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern racism persisted in the post-Jim Crow era

Because the South abandoned Jim Crow facilities by the 1970s, the northern press viewed the South as racially progressive. However, Lorie points to the endemic nature of racism in the South. She feared that her radical racial beliefs would impact her job.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Barbara Lorie, February 26, 2001. Interview K-0211. 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

Pinecrest is in Southern Pines. I was down there for a year, and it was just the dumbest thing in the whole world. They had these giant rooms, okay, it was this open classroom concept, which I won't even bore you with the philosophy because it was so dumb! Oh god! So they had classes in these big rooms, all together. Oh, it was the same thing down there. The hostility was great, only it was much worse because there was so much racism. It was just racism across the board. There wasn't any worse, better, best, or whatever. I shouldn't put degrees on anything, because it was just there. What was it? What was I? This is really funny if I can remember. I brought in a lot of black literature and put it on reserve in the library. And the librarian said, "Barbara, I don't really…if you think those, them…if you think any of them are going to read any of this, you are just wrong. They're just going to tear it up. You know how them Negroes are."
This is at Pinecrest?
Mmm hmm. Okay, we had three principals. We had a big daddy principal, then we had two daddy principals. And one of those daddies was black. So at least they were trying. And the head of the English department was black, which was a big leap. But it was just the same 'ol same 'ol. So, I was perceived as a very radical teacher, which I was, I admit it. Of course, by that time, the feminist movement was out of the bag and in full swing. So there was a lot of ways I was identifying with blacks all over the place. There was one store that got the New York Times… you know, it was like voices from the outside world, you know, wow! On Sunday I would drive over to the store practically incognito and get the paper and run back to my little dwelling and read it. Oh my god, so that's what's happening all over the world! Oh my god. To be enlightened! There was this essay by a guy named Knoplinger or something like that, Nottinger or Nothinger about the new South, and how it is making great strides with integration. And all these new laws. We don't have white fountains and black fountains anymore, and we're doing this and that. I'm going, oh please! Give me a break! So I wrote this letter to the Times about how this guy is off base or something like that. And just, he doesn't know what's really happening. It was quite a strong letter, let's put it that way, okay? And you know, [I] forgot about it. I came home from school one day, phone rings - no, I think that happened at school, I think that was it. The principal called me and said, "Ms. Lorie, the New York, now I don't understand this, but the New York Times is trying to get a hold of you." And I go, "Oh! I don't understand either, I can't imagine, they must have a mistake." Oh my god, dear god! I'll be fired just for this! So when I got home the phone rings, and of course it's the New York Times, and they want to publish my letter and they want permission to publish it and so forth. Which they did. I though, dear god, if anybody down here sees this, I'll be fired. There's no question about it! So there again, there's this part of me that's way out there on this limb, praying to God that nobody cuts it off! By that time I was doing my writtens and I got my M.A. and I was out of there. I got a job and went up North. So I left. The end. I have nothing more to say!