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
- BARBARA LORIE:
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
- MELISSA FROEMMING:
This is at Pinecrest?
- BARBARA LORIE:
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!