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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Fear of retaliation prevents participation in civil rights movement

Battle remembers that many older African Americans did not participate in civil rights protests because they feared that they would lose their jobs. Battle's parents and others did not have much faith that race relations would improve, and rather than encouraging Battle to act for change, worried about the consequences of his activism.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Fred Battle, January 3, 2001. Interview K-0525. 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

RG: Thank you. One other question I wanted to ask, that is, did your parents teach you not to be prejudiced? What were their feelings about racial prejudice? What did you grow up with? FB: Well you know, from what I gathered from my parents, bein’ that they were employed in the white system, was the fact that it was a sense of respect that you were supposed to have had for white people. And as a whole, I never had the fortune to sit down with my parents and discussin’ the integration and stuff like that. They would mainly tell you that that’s the way it is, and that’s the way it always had been, and they don’t foresee no changes. Then the other thing that they mentioned to you because they thought that if you did go out there and try to make some changes, what some of the consequences would be. Dealing with the white radicals, KKKs, or whatever. There was danger that was instilled upon them from knowin’ what the capabilities of white people was at that time, if they rebelled against your action. RG: What about their jobs? Did they, were they concerned about their employers’ attitude toward them if they were out marching or their children were out marching? FB: Well, that was always a problem. You weren’t gonna get too many parents going to marching, and even with the teachers and the principals, you know, most of them felt like the time wasn’t right. And I think a lot of it had to do with some of the faculty felt like the white superintendent was gonna look upon them and saying that they ought to be able to control their students. The parents are in fear that their job might be in jeopardy if their son is out there demonstratin’. And this would be one way of the white parents protest, how to get back at them. Their son’s participation or their children’s participation in the demonstration. So there was always that problem.