Betty Furniss

Walls. Mississippi

J: Can you imagine what your parents reaction would have been if you had wanted to date either a Chinese boy? Would that have been ok?


White private school

B: No no that would not have been ok

J: Or a Black boy?

B: No no, would not have been ok.

Christian homemaker

J: Would your folks have felt the same way about an Italian?

B: Yes.

Southern Baptist

J: And what about with Jews?

B: No he would not, he would object to that also.

B: My daddy and mother always said that God made all the people, made the different races, and if He hadn't have wanted you to be separate He would have made us all one race. So therefore we just naturally knew that the Chinese people were Chinese, their culture was different. Black people, the black people was black and their culture was different. The white's culture is different. All the races' culture is different. People that come from India, they have a different culture. The Japanese has a different culture. And they felt like God made the races and God doesn't make a mistake. If the mistake is made we make it by trying to undo what He has done.

1940's Rural Mississippi Childhood

Would you believe that we were sharecroppers whenever I was coming up. And we farmed. I even drove the tractor.

I loved our community because we was such loving people. Everybody looked out after one another, you know. If even, regardless of who was in need, there was people there to help. So. And even whenever my mother would cook, the people, whether they were black or white that was in the field working? She would cook enough for them too. We were neighbors of the black families and I learned quite a bit of their little ditties about, rhymes and dances and things like that, and we always called their mother, to us, was Auntie. Auntie. And we'd always go to her house if we wanted some good cornbread and buttermilk. They would eat at our house as well as we'd eat at their house. We were just kindly buddies.

Memphis, Tennessee, 1960s

We had planned to have our children educated in our neighborhood. And, uh, shortly after this though, this is when the government decided that they was wanting to, um, to integrate the schools. Well that was fine with me. I was all for that because they were government schools. The black schools were the government's and the white schools were the government's. So they wanted to combine them and I felt like it was for, uh, monetarily saving money and it might have been a great thing to do. But that didn't end there. They came in in a few months or a year with great big yellow buses wanting to transfer the students to different schools, out of our neighborhood now, just for the sake of integration.

No race should dominate another race. And that's what was happening in Tennessee. The blacks were more or less overruling or whatever of the white race. It wasn't a healthy atmosphere with the black and white. Because it seemed like that since the government gave the blacks the kind of authority to go ahead with the integration they kindly took advantage of it, kindly. When it comes to the crime, the rapes, the robbery, the carjacking, I blame our government for every bit of it. It's one thing to be integrated, and it's another to be pushed and pushed and pushed until you think wait a minute, now, let's hold back here. We're all in here to get an education. We're not here to control and to get power and to me they were wanting control and power and it was unfair to the whites in this case.

We are different. I don't care what anybody says, we are different. The white are different than the black. Lets don't try to put them together saying they're all the same; they're not. We are, our cultures are so strong, till there is I know, I have even talked to black teachers and they tell me that, that they agree with me that the cultures should be separated because you can get along better. They even tell me that they, that the black teachers should be the ones teaching the black students because they know how to communicate with the black students more than they do the white students and vice versa.

© Jane Adams & D. Gorton 2002