African-American Oral Histories
Clip 4: Transcript
Segregation In The City
Running Time: 4 min 19 sec
CU: Out in the country it’s sort of different. People all lived to themselves anyway so it’s not, the housing situation was not, was not, one that was obvious. So it was not, there was not a community where Black folks lived and a community where white folks lived. People were scattered all around all over the whole place. So there was very little, with the exception of schools, there was very, and churches I suppose, very little to segregate out in the country. As I said, mostly Black folks were sharecroppers but there were Anglos who were sharecroppers as well. So there were a few Anglos that were sharecroppers and a few Blacks that owned property, but it was not like in the city where you had the stark contrast, of the division lines, you had segregated communities where whites did not live and segregated communities where Blacks did not live.
So it was a completely different world, for many kids who came from rural areas into, particularly into the cities like Austin. Austin was a small city and the other communities, surrounding communities, were distinctly different small towns--Pflugerville, Round Rock, Georgetown. Those were all completely separate communities and not really related to Austin, at all. So, folks who came from those very small towns out in the rural areas into Austin, the metropolitan area that was, that had all of the characteristics of a city anyway [laughs] if it was not a real city--at that time in terms of population, but all of the kinds of things that you had in the, in a city, in an organized city that you did not have generally in, in those smaller towns, and especially did not have in the, in the Black community. So, parks, swimming pools, libraries, those kinds of things belonged to you, even multistory buildings, and, and many teachers, that kind of thing. But, it was completely different, and was unavoidable in the city. There was no place that you didn’t see that society was segregated in the city. There was a line there somewhere, that everybody knew pretty much where, where it was. It might have been a moving boundary but it was, it was there, and you pretty much, whereever Black folks lived white folks didn’t. That was the way it was wherever you, however you perceived it. That was not an unknown thing.
It was different, it was East Avenue at that time, and it was not a high rise or anything. You could walk across it. It was a divided avenue, particularly down in that area from about Twelfth Street on down to the river. And there was a little creek that was out in the middle of it that ran through part of it I guess from about Eleventh Street on down someplace. So there was not a barrier, a physical barrier in that sense, but it, it pretty much--In all I guess that really was not true because on the other side of East Avenue there was Sabine Street which was and Red River, it was Red River, Sabine, which was predominantly Black, that stretch of Sabine up around Twelfth, Eleventh Street, in there. So you had, that sort of, but it was still pretty near, there was not much in the way, although that, that migration farther east was still going on. There had been like a large number of Black businesses along East Sixth Street, and then Blacks owned Red River and even whatever the next street over was. And then sort of, and Hispanics, too, as well. And that sort of started moving farther and farther east as time went by. So that movement obviously had already begun. But was not perhaps completed at that time.
But all, whether it was I-35 that you thought of as a physical barrier there was a line there somewhere, that everybody knew pretty much where, where it was. It might have been a moving boundary but it was, it was there, and you pretty much whereever, Black folks lived white folks didn’t. That was the way it was wherever you, however you perceived it. That was not an unknown thing, you know.
“Oral Narrative as History.” Students received class credit for this work, and were under the supervision of Dr. Martha Norkunas, director of “The Project in Interpreting the Texas Past.”
Every effort has been made to transcribe the audio recordings exactly. On occasion a word, or phrase, was difficult to hear and this is indicated by a question mark in brackets.
Date of Interview:
February 23, March 9, 2004
Lower Colorado River Authority, City Council Room, Lake Austin Blvd., Austin, Texas
Sony Mini Disc MZ-R50 with stereo microphones; 80-minute minidiscs