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Oral History Interview with John Harris, September 5, 2002. Interview R-0185. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    John Harris's father founded the Royal Taxi Company in 1934, serving the black community in Greensboro, North Carolina. After a childhood of work and play in the streets of segregated Greensboro, Harris followed his father into the profession, and at the time of this interview in September of 2002, the septuagenarian Harris was still driving. In this interview he describes his childhood in segregated Greensboro, rich in recreation but also redolent with the influence of a workaholic father; his experiences as a cab driver, including his escape from a hold-up; the effects of redevelopment on Greensboro's black community; and the civil rights movement. Harris, after many decades as a cab driver, remains a stable center in a changing community, the proprietor of a black business that weathered the economic pressures of urban renewal and growth. His position enables him to reflect on the pressures on businesspeople in the context of segregation and civil rights.
    Excerpts
  • A slave inherits her owner's land
  • An African American founds a taxi company
  • Formality in prewar Greensboro
  • A father's work ethic inspires a son
  • Having fun in Greensboro, including at segregated movie theaters
  • A father warns a son against gambling
  • The wisdom of discretion for a cab driver
  • The growth of United Taxi
  • 24-7 culture makes the taxi business more dangerous
  • Redevelopment sweeps African Americans out of Greensboro's downtown
  • Civil rights movement does not affect the taxi business a great deal
  • The enduring effects of the long history of subjugation of African Americans
  • Some progress for African Americans and the need for more
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.