Black professionals serve as role models
Here, Peerman remembers a diverse black business community that could meet any of her family's needs. When she went to black doctors and dentists, Peerman learned that black people could become successful professionals by visiting these role models.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Joanne Peerman, February 24, 2001. Interview K-0557. 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
JP: My memory of black businesses is pretty much limited to the funeral homes and the restaurants and the barber shops. As for medical services, we often went over to Durham because we did have a relative there who put us in contact with eye doctors and dentists and the like. My parents believed strongly in patronizing black professionals to handle medical situations. They just felt more comfortable with it. If you could find trustworthy—which we couldn’t find in Chapel Hill, that’s why we went over to Durham. Durham was much bigger and had a lot more black business over there. Our dentist was black, our eye doctor was black—we all wore glasses—and our pediatrician was our uncle, who was my mother’s brother.
Those were great role models for us to see growing up, to see that black people could be the doctors and the dentists that you go to. A lot of black kids, I assume, are exposed only to white professionals handling medical conditions. For us to see and know that people of color could do it just as well. It was a good role model for us to know that we could be anything that we wanted to be. It had a residual effect. Not only were they patronizing blacks but they were showing us that we could grow up to be anything that we wanted to.
BG: Were there many black businesses here in Chapel Hill?
JP: Not that I’m aware of. The cab stand, I believe, has always been—the Carolina Cab—has always been a black business. Mostly just service type businesses—restaurants, barbers, beauty parlors, you know.