Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Floyd Alston Jr., November 29, 1995. Interview Q-0002. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

A strong father instills values

Floyd Alston remembers his shame showing up for school dressed only in what his father, a sharecropper, could afford. He was shamed out of school and did not go to college. As he remembers his childhood he describes the strength of his father and the strength required of African Americans to endure the trials of racism and poverty, a strength that often springs from religion.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Floyd Alston Jr., November 29, 1995. Interview Q-0002. 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

EDDIE McCOY:
He smart weren't he?
FLOYD ALSTON, JR.:
He, he used his head when he done all that. I mean, he was looking out for his family. He was looking at, see, when you go through so much like share-cropping, just like when I was in school, high school, I was smart, the teacher told me I was smart and everything, but point is, when I got to high school, but my daddy could do the best he could and everything, but when I went to school with [unclear] pants on, uh, [unclear] old shoes, I was ashamed. I start laying out, ducking school. And that's the reason I didn't , 'cause I wanted to go to college and everything. But you see, after all that you know, back then times was hard. Times was really hard, but he brought us through it all, you know. Brought it through it all.
EDDIE McCOY:
Them people was strong weren't they?
FLOYD ALSTON, JR.:
Yeah, they had to be strong. Had to be strong, the people now couldn't make it.
EDDIE McCOY:
Oh no.
FLOYD ALSTON, JR.:
Couldn't make it, they had to be strong.
EDDIE McCOY:
A guy told me, said white people had to come through what black people had to do back then, they'd be committing suicide.
FLOYD ALSTON, JR.:
That's right, they'd been killing themselves, that's right.
EDDIE McCOY:
Where did they get strength from, you a church man?
FLOYD ALSTON, JR.:
I'll tell you what, we come from a church family. 'Cause we got preachers on our side, preachers, see my grandmother, Pearl Thorpe, my momma's momma, she was really what you call a religious woman. When I was like that, she would bring me out of the street, playing in the street, [unclear] don't care what we had on, call us in church. She taught me all about the Bible. And the same verses when I was a kid, 'bout John 3:16 and the 23rd psalm and all like that, came all the way up in me, all the way up 'til my grown adult age. And, right now, after I got saved, I can think back on where them people's strength came from.