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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Willa V. Robinson, January 14, 2004. Interview U-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Blacks and Native Americans live and work together

Robinson remembers the 1930s and 1940s, when African Americans and Native Americans were members of a shared community. She tells a story about her father helping some Native American men who had a bad habit of getting drunk and crashing their buggy near the Robinson house. That kind of willingness to help contributed to a real sense of community.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Willa V. Robinson, January 14, 2004. Interview U-0014. 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

MM: Right. Would you go back a little bit and talk about the 30s and the 40s and how Indians and blacks were, what kinds of things they were doing together, what it really meant? WR: Well, we worked on the farms together. We nourished each other’s children together. We took care of each other’s sick folk. We visited each other’s homes. We were just, we were a community. It wasn’t them Indian people stay over there, and those black folks stay over there, and they never come together, but we all came together on everything. I remember Miss Edith Locklear. She had some boys. They liked to drink. On Saturday afternoon they would come by our house. You’re a young lady so you don’t know. They called it a Hoover buggy. It was a little buggy. It had two wheels on it like car wheels on it, but it was a little seat up on the top. The horse pulled it. They called it a Hoover buggy. Just as they’d get by our house there was the railroad tracks. And when they’d go across the railroad tracks they’d be so high that when they hit the railroad track they’d fall off the Hoover buggy and this horse would go on home which wasn’t too far up from our house. My grandpa and my grandma would go out there and help them out of the ditch, bring them home to our house, give them black coffee and all kinds of things to try to get them together before they’d send them home. Then my grandpapa, he’d go home with them. He said, “Let me take these boys on up to Edith because I know she’s wondering. I’ve seen the mule up there for I don’t know how long, and they’s sitting down here,” and take them home. MM: So there was a lot of collaboration and cooperation? WR: Yeah, yeah. As I say, it was like a community should be. You were concerned about what happens to me. I’m concerned about what happens to you. If there was anything going wrong at your house, hey, I’m hurting too. You know, that’s the way things were, really. We didn’t have too many white neighbors. As I say, the only white family we had in our neighborhood at that time was this child I was talking about. Her father had a little store where he sold little groceries which wasn’t a lot because most people raised their own. The only things we bought from the store was coffee, sugar, and rice.