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Oral History Interview with Josephine Turner, June 7, 1976. Interview H-0235-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Josephine Turner was born in Durham, North Carolina, in 1927. At an early age, she experienced the sacrifices forced upon the poor, exemplified in her mother, who sought to impress upon Turner the value of education though she herself never made it past the third grade. She succeeded, but Turner followed in her mother's footsteps when her father died, leaving school and inheriting her father's job as a chauffeur at age fourteen. Turner's ambition placed her in unique positions: a black female chauffeur, a businesswoman, a political aspirant. However, her willingness to experiment with different jobs, her devout religious faith, and her determination to succeed earned her more respect than wealth. In this interview she reflects on the fruits of her ambition, her background, her children, her working life, and her hopes for the future. This interview is more of a personal portrait than a window into labor, but it will be useful for researchers interested in life and work in North Carolina.
  • Hard work during childhood
  • Child rearing practices, including corporal punishment
  • Father's stern parenting style instilled respect for elders
  • Free time and church attendance
  • The value of education
  • A strong woman adapts to domestic life
  • Depression brings alcoholism, then religious conversion
  • Goals for herself and her community
  • Trying for a seat on the Durham city council
  • Threats against a city council candidate
  • Obstacles to political success
  • Determination to improve her community
  • Abortion, pregnancy, and stigma
  • Remembering hunger and poverty
  • Increasing residential segregation
  • Democrat believes Republican leadership creates poverty
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  • 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.