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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vennie Moore, February 24, 1999. Interview K-0439. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Ignorance is bliss at an under-resourced black school

Moore's all-black high school lacked resources, but because she and her classmates did not know white students were better off, the school's decrepitude did not bother them. She believes that once blacks discover this kind of inequality, they overcompensate, such as with flashy clothes.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vennie Moore, February 24, 1999. Interview K-0439. 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

Now, from what you remember of this school in Davidson, how involved, what was the connection like between the school and the rest of the community, the churches and other people in town, did people help out a lot in the school?
Yes, yes they helped out a lot, as much as they was able. A lot of things we didn't have, but at that time we didn't miss it. We didn't miss what we didn't have. Because, that's just like anything else. If you don't have it, you don't miss it, if you don't know what it is. Like I heard a preacher say you don't know where you're going if you don't know where you come from. So, that's about like, we didn't know what y'all had all the time, until we worked and found out. A lot of things y'all, I mean the whites had, some of the whites, that we didn't have, but we didn't know about it, so it didn't worry us. We didn't think about it.
Like what kind of things?
Like maybe a raincoat or galoshes or skates or a bicycle. Now, most black children love bicycles and most of them had old piece of bicycles, but they didn't get a new bike every year. Music, or something like instruments. To get to go to ballet school or music school. We didn't know nothing about that. A lot of people think that clothes, a lot of black people think that clothes make you. A lot of black people buy unnecessary clothes, but I found out that white people don't. I found that out. Now, Mrs. Bernard, she was the rich, rich one I worked for, and I worked for rich people in New York. I worked for Jews in New York that was rich. And they had clothes, but they had sufficient clothes. They didn't have clothes to put on just for show. And that's the difference I see in black and white about dressing. They go to extremes about dress.
Why do you think that is?
Because they never had it. I think that's it, >cause you never had it. I know right now, I used to be one of the finest dressed women in Davidson, because I didn't have it. That's when I was working in New York. But, right now I just have what I need, and since our clothes got messed up in the fire, I got three suits - a black one, a white one, and a blue one, and I got another skirt and blouse, and that's all I got now. I just change up from one thing to another. And I don't want too much more. I got a coat, a nice Sunday coat - I call it a Sunday coat - and a nice everyday coat. I don't want too much more where at my age, now, I just want to look decent when I go out.