Family life in a segregated context
In this excerpt, Jeter remembers the lessons she learned from her parents when she was young: to respect herself and make her own decisions. These messages did not have an overt racial meaning, and Jeter played with white children. Her parents were apparently active in the civil rights movement, and when marches resulted in the desegregation of a movie theater in Chapel Hill, Jeter's father spent more money than he could afford to bring his kids to the movies.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Gloria Register Jeter, December 23, 2000. Interview K-0549. 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: But let me turn the table a little bit and ask you, what you were taught in your family and when you were going to Northside Elementary. Were you taught, or was it implicit in any way to have disliked the white community?
GRJ: No. We weren’t – specifically, taught to, dislike, anybody. As little children, the lady that lived next door to us worked for a white family with children, and she would bring those white children home occasionally and they would come out in the yard and we would all play together so we weren’t taught, you should, be, standoffish and you should not like white people. My parents taught us that we should like ourselves. That was one thing that they strongly taught us, that we are – that we should love ourselves, and that, and it’s not like they said it out loud. And they never said out loud, “we should love being black.” They never said that out loud that I can remember. But my father – always told us, now one of the things he told us, he told us that we should never be followers. “If you can’t run it, get out.” He told us that from day one. If you cannot run this show, get out. And he’ll tell you that himself. That he preached. But, he – we were also, I mean, and he was very active in the demonstrations. Every Sunday, he would go downtown and demonstrate. And we would often ask, requested, “Daddy let us go with you,” “no, no. It could be bad, it could be violent, you cannot go, you have to stay at home.” But he went religiously every Sunday. And then when they integrated the theater, you know in Chapel Hill, when I was a little girl we had to go to Durham to the theater because they had a balcony. Chapel Hill theaters didn’t have a balcony so we couldn’t go there. In fact my neighbor when I was 13 took us to Durham on Christmas Eve to see the Sound of Music. But. But after they integrated the movies, that my father had marched and marched and marched to get integrated, we didn’t have enough money to go to the doggone movies. (laughs)
BG: So that taxi cab ride that --
GRJ: -- well [they took it?]
BG: -- every day was a real hardship --
GRJ: -- yeah
BG: -- but your parents felt strongly enough that you were gonna be – integrating --
GRJ: -- mmhmm, yeah --
BG: -- that they wanted that.