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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Alice Battle, February 20, 2001. Interview K-0523. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Poverty abets discrimination

This excerpt offers an interesting look at the relationship between poverty, race, and discrimination. Battle believes that black students' generally lower socioeconomic status put them at a disadvantage when they started attending school with white students. Their poverty denied them the luxury of etiquette. Poor white students from Carrboro were also victims of discrimination.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Alice Battle, February 20, 2001. Interview K-0523. 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

BG: Now what happened to teaching values when you went to Chapel Hill High School? AB: You know I think that social graces and things like that the white students got it at home and so it was not important to repeat it at school because it was done at home, not remembering maybe that the black students did not have that advantage. What I did was that I would stand at my door in the morning, and I always spoke to my students, and I expected a greeting back from the students. Just common courtesy kinds of things, and in the classroom I would tell them I was going to respect them and I expected them to respect me, and to respect each other that when someone else was talking that you listen until they are finished and then you have an opportunity to talk. Just in a subtle way but there was no outright teaching. It was just doing what was right. BG: You mentioned something that the white students got at home and the black students didn’t. I wonder if you could be more specific about that. Is that what you were just talking about when you said don’t interrupt when someone else is talking? AB: I’m thinking about--. Kind of being exposed to society, you know, going out to plays, big productions, and that kind of thing. Some of them, I don’t think, were exposed to that kind of thing. Using your napkin, or even the whole family sitting down together and some of the black students were not exposed to that. Some of them my not have known where their next meal was going to come from so they were more concerned about eating than using a napkin or using the right fork or that kind of thing. So I think more of the white students had that advantage. It may have--. I don’t know what I’m trying to say but--. BG: I think you’ve been pretty clear. AB: Do you understand what I’m saying? BG: Absolutely. So you’re also talking about a different economic level here. AB: Yes. BG: You’re talking about poor, poor people and University professors to the large extent. AB: I found out that not only were the blacks discriminated against, but the students from Carrboro, which historically were the “crackers” at the time, and we call them “red necks” now. The students at the old Chapel Hill High School discriminated against them, professors children, and the elite ( ) people being associated with Carrboro.