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Oral History Interview with Samuel James (S. J.) and Leonia Farrar, May 28, 2003. Interview K-0652. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    This interview is a chronicle of a lifetime of hard work. Samuel and Leonia Farrar both grew up in poverty in rural Chatham County, North Carolina, although Samuel's family was poorer than Leonia's. Samuel tried to follow his father into the sharecropping business, but became so frustrated with his treatment by his white landlord he left his farm and tried to make his way in Durham, marrying Leonia in 1949 and taking her with him. By 1951, homesick and overworked, Samuel and Leonia returned to farm life. But racism drove the couple from their rented farmland, and in 1957 Farrar built the Cary home where the interview took place in 2003. The Farrars reflect upon their lives in this interview, recalling decades of manual labor, saving money, raising a family, and enduring racial discrimination from landlords, coworkers, and others. Their hard work, always a source of pride, eventually offered other rewards as well: Samuel became a minister, eventually supervising twenty-three churches, and after years of work as a beautician, Leonia found her calling in charitable work.
  • Young lives lived in poverty
  • Hard work in Durham, North Carolina
  • Discrimination in segregated schools
  • A light-skinned black woman draws unwanted attention from white men
  • A rural youth
  • Crossing racial boundaries with solid workmanship
  • An African American experiences poor treatment by a white land owner
  • Skin tone determines treatment
  • Learn More
  • 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.