Little progress on race since 1960s
In this excerpt, Battle bemoans the lack of progress in race relations since the end of segregation. Before the interviewer managed to change the subject, Battle describes a society that stopped changing after the civil rights victories of the 1960s. Church in particular remains segregated, Battle notes.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. 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
RG: What kind of scars do you think you carry? You mentioned a couple, in passing the white school and passing the white theaters on a regular basis. Are there other scars that you feel you carry with you on a regular basis from growing up in segregated society?
FB: (Laughs) Well, you know, here again, sometimes, I had to be familiar with my limitations, ok? And that’s been that total integration, I never had experience till after college, when I got in the workplace. I came from segregated community, went to segregated schools, segregated churches, segregated college. But integration to me took place in the workplace. And yes, sometimes quite painful to think that we have not progressed no further than what we have. Yes, when people look at you by the pigmentation of your skin rather than your productivity. Yes, when you talk to people and you don’t feel there’s a certain amount of acceptance, or that people feel like they’re doin’ missionary work just by socializing with you when you go to a function, so you won’t be that black that’s standin’ out. And not bein’ able to interact with other people, (?). It has left scars, and some of the scars that it has left, you just don’t forget. I’ve had a boss, that’s when I was workin’ with the Coca-Cola company in Atlanta, Georgia, who for some reason could not pronounce Negro. OK, it was always Nigra. And after a long discussion with him, I found out that it wasn’t his pronunciation, it was the fact that he just didn’t want to change. He’s adopted. (?)
And I guess the other thing that disturbed me more so than anything is that along there – (?) we’re into an integrated society or system, the more radical that the segregationists(?), you would think after 1960, 1964, when the Voters Rights Act was passed and everything, and there seemed to be more progress they made in the 60s and the 70s. Then all of a sudden the progress for racial injustice seemed to have stopped. The whites seemed to think that the blacks have arrived or have been given the opportunity to arrive. And that no longer should we have the quota system and stuff like that. And then another thing, as you look at I guess the 21st century, you would think that we have accepted where we are and can really interact with one another in brotherly love. And it wouldn’t be looked upon as I’m bein’ black or you bein’ white. It would upon as I’m bein’ a man and you bein’ a man. That has not changed. It’s still the black-white connotation that you run into every time you go. Some of it’s said, and some of it’s not said. I guess earlier it was the closet type racism that you run into. But now, racism is runnin’ about. It’s runnin’ about. And I don’t see it getting’ better. The most segregated time of the week is at 11:00, church service. I assure you, people got a right to feel comfortable where they go and worship. But we should be past that stage. That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Same thing with jobs and job promotion. You know, you run into that. It’s more of a clique. So those are the things, you got to keep your eyes open. Just like, I talk to my kids sometimes. And they don’t know enough about the racism, but they experience it. And they generally experience it, it begins at junior high level and goes till the high school. Elementary (laughs), they (inaud).