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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Leroy Beavers, August 8, 2002. Interview R-0170. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Segregated upbringing makes relating to whites difficult

Beavers had trouble relating to white people when he left Savannah at age eighteen, he recalls. He eventually learned that while he did not understand white people, they did not understand him either.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Leroy Beavers, August 8, 2002. Interview R-0170. 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

Then my father, I owe everything to my father, man. It isn't anything in this world because I've been in the Army, and I've learned a lot of things, but initially my mother and father they put what's in here now today, and I thank them so dearly for it, and West Broad Street now. I'm going to tell you right now, I learned a lot from the street here. Some things you can learn in school, but there are some things out here you can't learn in school. You can't learn that. The things I learn out here. What I learned out on West Broad Street prior to eighteen years old helped me when I left Savannah, Georgia, how to deal with people socially. The only thing I couldn't really, really deal with a lot my first time away was white people because I never dealt with white people before. See now white people are more or less unforgiving in a sense like what the hell he saying. What the hell you come from? What are you talking about? Seemed like everybody else and them understand why in the hell can't you understand what I'm saying. It's crazy, and then I had a couple of friends, one white guy, befriended me. His name was Jerry Gillespie from Pennsylvania, and he loved to play soccer. I didn't know anything about soccer. I haven't heard about soccer. We were roommates, and I just, I tell Jerry straight up now I said, "Jerry I was talking a white guy one day and something I said and the white guy said that guy looked kind of stupid and didn't understand why he called me stupid. I thought I was talking, I really wasn't talking that much, just a regular conversation." Jerry explained it to me. He said, "Leroy, it's not that you're stupid. It's just that they don't understand you because they haven't been around black guys." Then that's what really cracked it for me right there. I said, "Okay now I understand that." In other words we both have to feel each other out in order to be something together. But I learned it right here on West Broad Street, everything I learned. Everything that took me on my travels around the world, got it right here.