Segregation damages southern economies
Brown considers the economic impact of segregation: she believes that it hurt Alabama financially. She also reflects briefly on race in her classroom.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Elizabeth Brown, June 17, 2005. Interview U-0019. 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
- KIMBERLY HILL:
Let's talk some about your teaching, and were there any ways that you
think your lessons changed after desegregation?
- ELIZABETH BROWN:
My lessons changed. I think my class, let's see. This past, most of the
time I have a mixture of students in my advanced placement class. This
year I had all white, and in a way I was glad and in a way I wasn't
glad. It doesn't, we don't choose our students. I tell the students you
don't choose us and we don't choose you. But I probably let the white
students have it a little bit harder than if it were mixed maybe.
- KIMBERLY HILL:
What subject is this?
- ELIZABETH BROWN:
This would be government. I would be more likely to be a little bit more
frank when some of the things I think are going on in government than I
would with if it was a mixed group, I feel like. When I got to economics
I was so glad our governor said that our tax system in Alabama was
immoral. You don't generally hear a Republican official saying that
about taxes. I was quite glad to hear that because if they have
Republican tendencies, I feel like I'm on the right side letting them.
So I really, it's hard to, it's hard for me to at times to teach social
justice and integration and segregation and things of that nature, but
when I can work it in, I will try to work it in. I try to work it in in
such a way that makes them realize [if] some of them aren't convinced of
it morally they will be convinced of it economically because I pointed
out to them that the South was in a stalemate when they were ignoring
the contributions of all these talented African American people. They
couldn't get the jobs that they deserved. They couldn't get the
money they deserved. They couldn't get the
political positions that they deserved, and when they started
integrating and integrated more, that's when more prosperity came to
this state. In economics I point out what we call the opportunity cost.
And if you're on the curve, that means you're employing all your
resources in labor, capital and management, entrepreneurship to its
fullest extent. I always point out now on the graph where would you put
segregation or where would you put prejudice, and it's either going to
be pointed out in the classroom or it's going to be a test item where
they have to figure it out themselves. It's going to be not on the line
but inside the line, which means the economy is not reaching its
potential when it does that. So there are a variety of times in
economics and government I can point out to them how segregation kept
the South behind for many, many years. Also I point out really stupid
statements that our politicians have made during the years. I sort of
remember those and probably do them in such a way that they make fun of
them too. But there's a fair amount of kids here whose parents came from
the North that are Catholic and are used to Catholic schools and the
cost of Catholic schools. As far as discipline in the class, having a
mixed group, in Spanish I forget. I don't think of boys, girls,
different variety of students in the class. I'll think sometimes do you
have any people of African American descent or black students, and I'll
say no. Oh yeah. I have, yeah, I have three or is it four? I can't
remember because I just don't think of those labels after a while.