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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

African American community protects its children from racism

Growing up, Baker had little contact with whites. Within the segregated South, the African American community formed a protective system that kept children from encountering the full brunt of the racism until they had to enter the white community to work.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Quinton E. Baker, February 23, 2002. Interview K-0838. 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

QUINTON E. BAKER:
Well, I am, and so that, I grew up in a segregated environment, I grew up in a community, you did not think about it so much. The time that you thought about segregation was when you were interacting or were in an environment where whites were around. Otherwise, you did not think about it. I mean, it was the normal course. Obviously, I thought about it as I got older in high school, but during that period, is how I grew up.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Right, right. Did you grow up with the white community very much?
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Only because I worked in high school, I was [pause] in order to prevent going into the tobacco fields and prime tobacco in the summer, I had a year round job. I didn't sell, I shined shoes in downtown Greenville at a local shoe repair shop.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
Oh, okay.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
So, I did that every day after school, and then I did it all day. So, I entered, so most of my customers, most of the people that came in were, who actually got shoeshines were white. There would be a few, but not many, African Americans that would get a shoe shine. So, that kind of interaction and the other interaction would be in terms of buying clothes or things of that nature, but there was no other interaction with whites.
CHRIS McGINNIS:
I don't blame you, I would do anything that I could not to go out in the tobacco fields. [Laughter] Anything at all.
QUINTON E. BAKER:
Well, I started out there, I started, there was trucking tobacco, and this is one of those incidences where you get to know that you are different, because I wasn't very good. Because I was first of all, afraid of horses, and so one can't truck tobacco particularly in that period if one is afraid of horses because one has to get behind them to hook the wagon up.