"It used to be I hate you just because you weren't the same color. Times were different than they are now."
- James Raeford
When Raeford was born in 1934, Franklin D. Roosevelt was the President of the United States. Raeford was born into a world that was still feeling the effects of the Great Depression. Although the economy was improving by the time Raeford was born, it was not thriving by any means. Harry S. Truman became president in 1945, during the wake of World War II. Dwight D. Eisenhower came into office in 1953, just before the Civil Rights Movement began in 1954 with the Brown vs. Board of Education Supreme Court case that ruled segregation unconstitutional.
*Click on the link below to listen to a speech given by Franklin D. Roosevelt prior to World War II discussing the issue of war that affected Mr. Raeford and all other US citizens of the time.
Franklin D. Roosevelt's "The Great Arsenal of Democracy" Address from American Rhetoric
* Click the play (triangle) button once the link is accessed to listen to the speech, or simply read the speech below the video.
James Raeford grew up in a world divided by color. As a teenager, Raeford recalls an incident with a white man in a segregated restaurant prior to the Civil Rights Movement (click here to view map of Historic Civil Rights Places with descriptions of events that occurred in those places). Raeford was waiting in line to order when he caught a guy staring at him out of the corner of his eye. Raeford anticipated a run-in with this man as he turned to confront him. Once Raeford met him face-to-face, the white man quickly turned his stern stare into a smile and began conversing with Raeford as if nothing at all was wrong. It was at this point in time that Raeford realized that is was he who had assumed the worst. The worst is what people of his time had grown up expecting when confronted with the issue of race.
While Raeford was in high school in Fayetteville, he can recall his brother being chased by a group of white boys for no real reason. They felt they had the right to chase him and if they caught him, they could beat him up and would be able to get away with it.
Raeford recalls an incident during his high school years when a white guy was dating a black girl while a black guy was dating her at the same time. When the white guy found out about this, he confronted the black guy and shot him. Raeford recalls that the white guy went to jail, but got out in a short while. These sorts of events have marked Raeford's life.
Even though the Supreme Court had overturned the separate but equal decision made by the Plessy vs. Ferguson Supreme Court Case in 1896 and deemed segregation unconstitutional, some whites' opinions toward blacks did not change. Raeford tells about how his sons went to integrated schools but he went to a segregated school. Raeford remembers Pete, his son, coming home from school one day really upset. He told Raeford that a white guy on a motorcycle had screamed profanities at him as he rode past as Pete talked to a white girl on the sidewalk. Pete told his father how he wished his dad was there to protect him.
Click on the play button below to See Video Clip of Raeford Telling Story about Pete's Incident
* images courtesy of Microsoft Word clip art
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The text, video, audio, and website are the result of interviews conducted by Ronnie Shore,
Davidson College Class of 2006, in the Fall of 2005.
© 2005 Kristi S. Multhaup, Ph.D. | Davidson College | Davidson, NC 28035 | Phone: 704.894.2008
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