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Oral History Interview with MaVynee Betsch, November 22, 2002. Interview R-0301. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch removed the letter R from her first name to protest what she saw as Ronald Reagan's disregard for the environment and expunged her middle name, Elizabeth, when she learned that Queen Elizabeth I nurtured the British slave trade. In this interview, she describes her childhood in the 1930s and 1940s in Jacksonville, Florida, a childhood spent in a vibrant black community peopled by pioneering professionals who created institutions to support one another. She remembers her travels in Europe after graduating from Oberlin College in the mid-1950s. And she describes the decline of the African American neighborhood of her youth, a stronghold of economic and cultural independence divided and destroyed by an interstate and chain stores. But if Jacksonville reveals the predatory relationship between development and the black community, Betsch's life in the resort founded by her great-grandfather, American Beach, represents the potential for black Americans in a changing South.
  • Backward schools, white and black, in the South
  • A self-contained, self-reliant community in Jacksonville, Florida
  • Wealth insulates child from segregation
  • Urban renewal destroys a black community
  • Promoting racial understanding in Germany
  • A black man earns respect in a segregated southern city
  • Segregation promotes cohesion in the black community
  • An interstate scatters black businesses
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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.