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Interview with Vermelle Ely, Price Davis, and John Funches

Interviewee: 
Ely, Vermelle; Davis, Price; and Funches, John
Interviewer: 
Mann, Keith
Date of Interview: 
2004-06-24
Identifier: 
BBEL0004
Subjects: 
Ely, Vermelle Diamond; Davis, Price, 1933-; Funches, John, 1951-; Second Ward High School (Charlotte, N.C.); Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools; Second Ward High School Alumni Foundation (Charlotte, N.C.); African Americans--Segregation; Education; Segregation in education; School integration; Teachers; African American neighborhoods; Blacks--Race identity; Urban renewal--Social aspects; Police brutality; Veterans; Students--Social life and customs; North Carolina--Charlotte; North Carolina--Charlotte--Second Ward; Interviews (Sound recordings); Oral histories
Abstract: 
Vermelle Ely, Price Davis, and John Funches all attended Second Ward High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and are all members of the Second Ward High School Alumni Foundation located on Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte. In this interview, Ely, Davis, and Funches reminisce about their high school experiences. Although they attended Second Ward decades apart from each other, all interviewees emphasize the feeling of camaraderie and family connection that they experienced there. In addition Ely, Davis, and Funches describe their personal experiences with integration, Vermelle as a teacher in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg School System, Price in the work force in New York City, and John in the military and the work force. The discussion turns to the importance of the black community in Charlotte, the devastation that integration and urban renewal caused within this community, and the loss of black identity in the present generation. The interviewees’ views on integration are mixed as they feel it has both hindered and promoted black culture.
Coverage: 
North Carolina--Charlotte; circa 1930 - 2004
Interview Setting: 
Second Ward Alumni House (Charlotte, N.C.)
Collection: 
Before Brown Collection
Collection Description: 
These interviews were conducted in conjunction with the Levine Museum of the New South’s award winning exhibit, "Courage: The Carolina Story That Changed America,” which was originally mounted in 2004. The interviews focus on the educational experiences of members of the African American community of Charlotte during the era of segregation.
Interview Audio: 
Transcript:

KM: Keith Mann (Interviewer)
VE: Vermelle Ely (Interviewee 1)
PD: Price Davis (Interviewee 2)
JF: John Funches (Interviewee 3)

[TAPE BEGINS]

KM: (Keith Mann) This is an interview at the Second Ward Alumni House with Miss Vermelle Ely, Mr. John Funches and Mr. Price Davis. Keith Mann is conducting the interview. Your name is--?

VE: (Vermelle Ely) Vermelle Diamond Ely.

PD: (Price Davis) My name is Price Fredrick Davis.

JF: (John Funches) My name is John W. Funches.

KM: First question to each of you what schools did you attend or teach at in Charlotte and when?

VE: I attended Myer Street Elementary School which was in Charlotte and then for grade school I went to Second Ward High School. Graduated in the class of 1949 left Charlotte and went to Raleigh, North Carolina to Shaw University where I graduated and came back to Charlotte in 1953 and taught in Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system for 32 years. I first worked at an all black elementary school which was Marie G. Davis. And I taught there for 17 years and after integration I was moved to Pineville Elementary which still was a part of Charlotte-Mecklenburg and where I stayed there for 15 years. So in total I taught in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school system for 32 years. Retired in 1985 and have been here in Charlotte working with the Second Ward National Alumni Foundation. At present I’m executive director of the Second Ward High School Alumni House museum.

JF: My name is John Funches I graduated from Second Ward 1969. I also went to Myer Street Elementary which was the beginning of my formal education. I left Second Ward in ‘69 like I said and I joined the military. Came back home in ’73 presently work at Federal Express. And I joined the Alumni Association—five—five years ago. And this is a really a good thing to be part of this association. I think classes from 1929 to 1969 and we try to integrate into the black community. I really do think this will work around here.

PD: My name is Price Davis and I would—I started elementary school in Charlotte, North Carolina. Well in fact it was not my first time attending school I attended school is Davidson, North Carolina. Went to school to my own father and when I came to Charlotte I started at Morgan School in Cherry and finished Morgan School and started attending Second Ward High School and finished Second Ward High School in the year 1939 which was a good class. I got my diploma and I wanted to travel and I was one of the persons who migrated north to find a better world so to speak. Something different and I went to New York got a job and retired and finally came back to Charlotte, North Carolina. Was elected to the Board of Directors and has served on the Board of Directors for quite a few years. And I am always grateful to Second Ward because when I got to New York to get that job it was a class-action suit the judge asked me “Do you have a high school diploma” and my Second Ward High School diploma allowed me the chance to retire at age 50. I drove a truck cross-country for 33 years out of New York City. Brooklyn, New York and that’s why I’m grateful to Second Ward High School.

KM: Alright we’re sitting in the Second Ward High School Alumni Foundation now Mr. Funches you said this Alumni Foundation was a good thing. I’d like for all of you to elaborate on why this is a good thing.

JF: When you consider that we have members from the classes of 1929-1969. They bulldozed the high school in 1969 and Second Ward was really—it was an intricate part of the black community. Frankly speaking its all that’s left of--the association is all that’s really left of the black community as we knew it when we were all at Second Ward. So I think this, is this is representative of what we once was and what we one day hope to be.

VE: The foundation was founded in 1980 and one of the main purposes as John has told you that this is what’s left of our school. And in order to keep the spirit of Second Ward alive this is one of our--that was one of our main objectives. And we reached out to students that have come you know from all over the country and we started a reunion and an annual meeting every year. We’ve had one every year since 1980. We look forward to that because we get to see old friends and get to meet new friends. Some you knew when you were going to school some you didn’t know. They come every year Labor Day weekend and presently we’re getting ready for one this year which will be held September 3rd, 4th and 5th of this year 2004. So we’re looking forward to seeing all the people again. We have all kinds of activities that will involve the old the young and the old and everybody else. But the foundation started with the marker that’s located well I guess the question now why is the marker on Second Street. The marker is on Second Street because First Street is no longer in existence. It’s right across from the Education building which was originally on First Street. The school was located on the corner of First and Alexander. And to show where the school was actually located--in fact the gym is still there it’s used by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Metro School and hopefully someday we may be able to get that gym to be used as part of our historic movement. But that was our first step we went from the school being torn down and then we had the marker. And we started collecting trophies and yearbooks and things like that. So we were able to purchase this Alumni House and we’ve already earned our mortgage and everything so this has grown into a bigger thing. It was part of one of our programs was a foundation it was history and archives. And from that we’ve grown into a museum so we call it Second Ward Alumni House museum and that way we’re able to invite people from all over the city and the country to come and see some of our history. We want to educate our young and the other races of people around about what our history is really about. So this has really been a great thing and it has evolved into a city kind of thing its not only Second Ward any longer its going to be called the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African-American history museum. We’ve been incorporated by the state at this point and we’re working on moving to another level. So we’re real proud of where we’ve come how far we’ve come.

KM: Absolutely.

PD: Did you know I’ve forgot the question.

VE: [Laughter] It’s because I talked too long.

KM: That’s alright. Yes why Second Ward Alumni Association is a good thing.

PD: One reason why the Second Ward Alumni Association is a good thing is to keep the spirit of Second Ward alive in the memory because if you go back and look at it the majority of people who are around age 40 are so—somewhere down the road Second Ward touched that life. People who came out of Second Ward became doctors, lawyers, politicians you name it. Somewhere along there Second Ward touched that person’s life and by Second Ward turning out such wonderful people I say that because I do think a lot of Second Ward. It made a better life in Charlotte for black Americans. Not only black Americans but for everybody because we’ve had some good politicians that came out of Second Ward that really tried to point the whole city in the right direction.

JF: If I was going to say this you know after what Price said you know we have to be careful not to forget that there was once a small group of black people in Charlotte and the city has just this is an incredible city now. But black folks have a lot to do with the progress and the building of this city. And the unfortunate part is that I think that a lot of people forget the tremendous contributions that Price and Vermelle I mean they made in this city. I mean it’s something that goes unnoticed. I mean their names aren’t up in lights or anything like that. But I mean they made a tremendous contribution to this city and Second Ward it was like community theatre.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: I mean it was the black institution in the city of Charlotte that meant a whole lot.

VE: Price mentioned some of the people that came out of Second Ward that were graduates ( ) former School Board Chairman. Arthur Griffin and was a graduate of Second Ward. The County Commissioner--.

PD: Senator—

VE: Senator Jim Richardson. And Willie Stratford all of those people. Phil Berry well I hope that—there were a lot of people that were, there were lots of people I don’t want to start naming—

PD: Yeah.

VE: --Because I’ll forget somebody. But those two or three come to mind right away.

KM: All of you are graduates of Second Ward what was Second Ward like?

VE: It’s strange too that we finished in different--all the nines. Price ’39 I was ’49 and John was ’69. Isn’t that ironic that we all ended up at the—different decades.

JF: Second Ward was an extended family. It was like leaving home and not leaving home. It was like leaving one room and going to another room.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: Because it was more than just a school it was, it was like going to visit a relative because the teachers cared about you. They taught you in some very—I’ll say limited conditions because we always had second-hand everything. Second-hand books or whatever but not the best chemistry lab not the best science lab if we did have that.

VE: Price didn’t have a pair of shoes.

PD: No. [Laughter]

JF: But you know they taught some skills like carpentry and brick masonry that—skills that they knew that we as blacks would need later on in life. They were realistic about life but they taught us how to be good citizens. You know I mean they taught us how to be good citizens, good individuals and good people. To be caring loving people, to not forget the other guy you know. To help someone if you could. I mean it wasn’t all about stuff you learn in books it was how to live a quality life you know I mean away from the books outside of books. Of course you needed the educational process but Second Ward taught us how to be good people.

VE: A good example of that when John came in this morning he was--he learned his lessons well to be concerned about other people on his way he left home early this morning started to get a coffee or biscuit and the guy came up to the car just to see if he got his biscuit and coffee and had a sign wanting food. He remembering what he had been taught I think that’s a good example of some of his training and upbringing he gave away his breakfast this morning to a hungry person and he said he smiled and run on and he said he was really hungry evidently he wanted food. Sometimes they take up the money you know to do other things. But I think that’s a good example of what John just said about what he was taught coming along and we all have those kinds of remembrances. We remember those kinds of instances where we were taught different things and it has carried over to later years.

PD: Well I’ll tell you excuse me I’ll tell you the Second Ward the teachers there were your extended family like John said. They were your extended family but when you went to school you took pride in going to Second Ward and not only Second Ward to other schools. And you took pride in being a first-class student in your school you wanted to be a part of it. And you respected your teachers I wish that it might be there but I don’t know somebody would have to show me that its there. I just don’t think that you see the pride and the love in schools now that you had back then because the school back then was about all you had was the school and the church. Those were the two backbones of the community. And the teachers in the school even Miss Ely’s daddy Mr. Diamond always instilled in us regardless to what you’re going to be, be the best that you can be. If you’re going to pick up garbage be the best garbage man that you can be. As long as you are out there and you have what it takes to make an honest living in the street be the best you can be. And that has always stuck with me in school that teachers tried to really prepare you to go out there and face the world because even back in those days. Those days I look back on them now they’re like Matt Dillon in ( Festers ) and whatnot.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: They were to me dark days but back then and even my daddy always said “Education is the key.” Education is the key because as I’m coming along now I’m a little older than they are but when I’m coming along there were a lot of adults out there that could not read and write. I wanted to be able to read and write. My daddy taught a night school to adults there in Morgan School at night. Taught them how to read and write. And as long as I knew that I could get that education and to me a high school diploma that’s all I wanted that and I knew if I got that high school diploma in my hand I could go on and make it. My daddy wanted me to go to college but everybody’s not college material even now everybody’s not college material. And I told my daddy “Let me leave here. I got this diploma. Let me leave here and let me see what my life can be like somewhere else. And if I do bad I promise you I’ll come back home.” That’s it.

VE: Don’t let anything stop you from getting that education. I went to school and I want this to be a lesson I want—would like for it to be a lesson to other people to some of the people or young people with handicaps. I went to school with a visual handicap I don’t call it a handicap but some people might you know look at it in that respect. But don’t let anything stop you be determined to do what you want to do and I was determined and I was taught that at home. ( the institution of B ).

PD: Yes.

VE: I went to school I—and with the help of everybody, students, teachers and everybody I graduated. And of course there were some people that said “Well she graduated because you know she got out of Second Ward because her dad was a teacher there” and that kind of thing. But I was determined and I was not going to let that stop me. I did not go to school here in Charlotte I decided to go away on my own. I went to Shaw University and there I was able to function just like the Second Ward teachers were able. They helped me and students helped me you know along the way where I needed help and I graduated from Shaw University so I didn’t have any help from my dad in that respect. But I think I’ve worked with the foundation with history and archives a lot of things I’m not able to do visually but a lot of things I do from memory. And I do remember a lot about the history of Charlotte and I try to share that history and try to be an example because, just because you may have a—you may be limited in some ways don’t let a handicap stop you from being the best that you can be.

KM: All of you talked about family atmosphere that you experienced at Second Ward at Myers Street and also I believe you experienced it at Marie Davis and Pineville.

VE: Yes.

KM: Tell us about the family atmosphere. What caused that family atmosphere at these schools? What was the reason for that atmosphere?

JF: Well all we had was each other. I remember that’s one thing our television used to say but really it’s true. All that we had was each other. We didn’t have any organizations we didn’t have any support. Not that I for one--I could be absolutely wrong but I can just remember the support from my family and my school. And when I say school I’m talking about my teachers they were just like family. Because if John Funches went to school and acted up somebody would walk down to my house and tell Laura or John.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: And John or Laura would tell me and I wouldn’t like it too well. So I mean it was like you don’t go to school to cut up. You know you go to school and you learn. You be polite to Miss Ely. You know what I’m saying Miss Swapshek you be nice. And you learn and don’t bring no bad report cards home. I love Second Ward and I think that the young kids, the young black kids today would be much better off if they understood that it’s not all about trying to be someone you’re not. Progress is good education is good don’t get me wrong I’m in favor of all that. But you have to remember who you are. And I think that and I know I’m getting a little off of subject here but I think that’s one thing that our black kids have lost. Their identity they’ve forgotten who they are and where they came from. They’ve forgotten what we you know the struggles that we put up and the trials and tribulations that we endured so that they can be where they are now. I expect that they’ve lost focus they’ve just they’ve integrated too much into their society. And to the point that they’ve lost their individuality they just—they don’t know where they are. And you can’t tell them either because they don’t want to hear it.

VE: That’s one of our objectives one of our visions that we would be able to educate the young blacks. A lot of them have forgotten a lot of them don’t know so if we can bring them into the museum or bring them into the organization and show them tell them let them learn something about their history which they have not been exposed to you know at home or wherever. Not only blacks but integration has brought both whites and blacks and all races together. Educate them all as to what we were about and what our struggles were about and how much we’ve accomplished. We and the schools that I’ve worked in the all black school which was Marie Davis you had the same type of teachers that we had in Second Ward a lot of them graduated from Second Ward. A lot of them and they carried that same kind of love and concern to the school. And the children in the all black schools got that kind of love and they were taught that kind of respect for self-respect and respect for others. After integration I went to Pineville and at that time there was only one other black teacher I think I had one black student my first year. Gradually I got two or three. But the teachers were it was different. But you had to show that same kind of love and concern for all of the children not just your black children. It was not hard to do because it was a part of you so the children all got the same kind of love same kind of training regardless to what the color of their skin was. You had your problems with you know with whites talking about the blacks and there was a word that they had to get out of their vocabulary and finally it you know would sink into some of them that thing you do, don’t use the “N” word not in here because its not a good thing. Might lose a head--you know but they still learned a respect for each other and it was because of the teachers and the principals they had a concern and it was still like a family--an extended family because Pineville was a small community too. And the other black children were bused in but they were still taught in the same way the same kind of love and same kind of respect for each other and you know for themselves and for others.

PD: Let me just say that I wish that—Mrs. Ely had hit on it—but you said “How did it—what made it feel like an extended family?” when I was in school I know that there were many a times that I would see a teacher take money and go buy a kid a pair of shoes. Charlotte was different then you almost knew what your neighbor was thinking. But people were coming out of the Depression this is back in 1939. Coming out of the Depression and nobody had anything millionaires had lost everything and whatnot. But Mrs. Ely has always said that a teacher would go buy you a pack of paper.

VE: That’s right.

JF: [Chuckles]

PD: You didn’t eat anything a teacher would make sure that you had something to eat. Or if you stayed out of school and somebody said that you were sick your teacher was going to eventually come and knock on your door and wonder why you were not coming to school.

VE: Right.

PD: This is what made it feel like it was your extended family. Because I can’t express it enough that teachers and students they cared enough about—they cared for one another. They cared for one another. I remember when Mr. Clark a teacher at Second Ward died and the children—God—now they would send the what is it they called it? They had the people there to—

VE: Councilors.

PD: Councilors and all kinds—but back then we didn’t have anything we just had to go through with it. Mr. Clark who was a very loved teacher died and it was a sad thing and whatnot. But it felt like your family because they worried about you they worried, children worried about their teachers and teachers worried about their students. You couldn’t help but feel like its family.

KM: Did that family feeling change or stay the same with integration and etc.?

JF: Well you know what as Price was talking I was just thinking I left in 1969. I feel very fortunate in that I went to I was back during that period of time I had an opportunity to go to Second Ward. I was a part of the black community before they separated the black community because I think in 1969 and correct me guys if you want to because I might be wrong but that’s when I saw the shift happen. During in 1969 when Second Ward disappeared or 1970 Second Ward disappeared and the absence of the black community in Charlotte disappeared we became a scattered tribe of people.

VE: Uh-huh.

PD: Uh-huh.

JF: You know and that unity that we knew it left it wasn’t there anymore. We were all from different parts of the city here and there and everywhere and a lot of us didn’t know where each other were and I mean it was just a—to me it was not a good time because they had managed to break to break—to break open or separate a huge family you know what I’m saying I mean a huge family. And so we just kind of like scattered like seeds in the wind to different parts of the city. And I think at that point we sort of lost our identity I could be wrong but I just feel that way we just sort of lost it. And of course it would be hard to reclaim that but you know—I don’t even remember what your question was I’m sorry.

KM: It’s alright.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: But I just you know—it was such a special time you can’t imagine how special that time was. You had to be there you had to be a part of it to really understand how special it was to be black. Don’t get me wrong we went through some hard times. Jim Crow?

VE: [Laughter]

JF: I mean it was tough I mean—there was no respect for black and the white man was throwing our parents in jail left and right and you couldn’t go in the stores and I mean it was bad. But there was so much pride in the black community. It was a time when you were proud to be black.

VE: Definitely proud.

PD: Let me just make one point here I did not go to school during integration. I wish I had had some kind of integration but during my lifetime here in Charlotte during Jim Crow and whatnot I had been beaten down so much. Now it’s different—it may be different for women—but that black male they even here in Charlotte they picked the worst lowlife white people they could find to be policemen.

VE: Some of them weren’t educated—

PD: I’m not putting them down--yeah but some of them couldn’t even read or write. I’m not—this doesn’t include the police department now.

VE: Give them fiddlestick—

PD: But back then it was training on the job if you’re white and you want to be a policeman come on up here with brut force plenty of ignorance and plenty of racial hatred and you can be a policeman. And this had gotten me to the point that we’re in and plus there were some other whites not policemen but some other whites that had beaten me down so till I really wasn’t ready to be integrated into that white world that I went into in New York. When I went into New York and got this job this job was 99% white 99.9% white. We blacks could load the trucks but we could not drive them and it was a long time before I became comfortable enough to feel comfortable in this white world that I was in because I had been used to having to say “No Sir” or “Yes Sir” or “Put your head down” or whatnot and policemen white low things right from the Jerry Springer show—

JF: [Laughter]

PD: They would stop you and talk to you long enough where you would forget to say “Yes Sir” then you get the beating coming. You know what I’m saying? So when I got to New York and I began to fit into this what I would call the white world a member of the union local 202 teamster it took a good while before I was really able to function comfortably let me put it like that. And I just had to bring that in. My point is integration has its good points especially now. Because when you go out here now and you get a job you don’t know who’s going to be your supervisor it could be Ahab the Arab or it could be Joe Blow—

VE: [Laughter]

PD: --it could be John Funches or it could be Miss Anne. I’m talking about when I say “Miss Anne” I’m talking about white America. You have to learn to—if you want to work and make an honest living—you’re going to have to respect somebody that might not be like you. And this—I’ve been used to having to say “Yes Sir” “No Sir” and whatnot but when I got up there in New York and I got to hanging around with these Italians and Jewish people and these other people and they get [undecipherable] then you got to learn to get right in there with them I don’t got time to call you mister I’m going to call you whatever you are and I just wanted to put that in there because I didn’t go to school during integration. I just wanted to put that in there before Mrs. Ely is the one that tackles integration.

VE: I didn’t go to school under integration but I went as a teacher and my daddy worked in the school system for years he was retired. So when I was called to go there were some other ones who elected to go to the white school everybody was worried about something you know about you going. So he went as a volunteer to help with registration. That was his motive that was his reason his outward reason for going but he went to protect his little girl.

UNKNOWN: [Laughter]

VE: And it was so funny the first day of registration you just all riding by the white people—you know how the white people ride by looking at the school wanting to see who this black person is you know that’s come to teach our little kids. So he helped me register the children and all that but he went for several days but finally found out that I was not a bad—I did not come to kill and eat any of their kids so they you know readily came around. But you could see them come by the room they come and their kids were fine. You know unless they had to their talk to at home but see them some of them come crying and then they’d push them in the room and then they’d stand out there and cry. The parents were doing most of the crying.

KM: [Laughter]

VE: But it was an interesting thing to see how things changed eventually everybody you know was concerned about this black teacher coming. And in a couple of years it got to the place where everybody—well my principal finally had to say to them “Everybody’s child cannot be in Mrs. Ely’s room.” You know and everybody would come with a request you know for them to be in my room until when they started assigning assistants they called them aides at that time. And most of the aides had been white and the others one of them was black and the principal I think he just liked challenges sometimes so he assigned her to me so here we got two blacks in the room so we’re going to kill the little children.

KM: [Laughter]

VE: And so it was interesting it started again when they would come by and see “Is my little boy?” you know its so nervous that you know “The aide is so loud.” “Loud” they’d say, “He’s afraid when people talk loud” you know talking loud to them and I said “Well he hasn’t been afraid you know I’m the loudest person in this room and he hasn’t been afraid all this time he won’t be.”

JF: That’s right.

VE: Because I am loud.

JF: Uh-huh.

VE: You know so if that’s your only problem then you don’t have a problem. But it worked out very well but it took time for people to except the fact that we were human beings we were not there—we were there to teach their children. And we did just that and we treated them the same way we treated the parents—and I had all kinds of support from the parents I ended up being teacher of the year while I was there. And they eventually you know accepted me as a person.

PD: Uh-huh.

VE: Realized that I was just like—you know just because of the color of my skin you know that I wasn’t any different from the rest of them. And you could tell some that had heard conversations at home well they would sneak up behind me in the line sometimes and try to feel my hair and—

PD: Uh-huh.

VE: And “Oh its soft just like” you know.

JF: It’s real huh?

VE: I said “Its hair just like yours” you know.

PD: [Laughter]

JF: [Laughter]

VE: And then there’s another situation where the color of your skin you just stayed in the sun too long you know that kind of thing you get all kinds of comments but the children were fine and the parents eventually I think after they saw how happy the children were that they really relaxed and realized that we were not there to hurt we were there to help.

KM: It’s obvious the love that you all have for the schools you went to the schools that you taught at and yet those schools operated in a society that was controlled by Jim Crow—

PD: Uh-huh.

KM: --that you brought up so what was to be gained by integration of the schools?

VE: They always claimed that the schools were separate but equal but there’s no such animal. There’s no way a school could be you know separate—we were a second class you know school. We didn’t get the equipment it was interesting that I we knew this we thought this but firsthand experience was when I went to the white schools that they got all the material—I spent a lot of my own money to buy materials even down to paperclips and thumbtacks and teaching materials. I would go to the school supply places to look at the books. My mother was first grade teacher too and we would go back home and draw the pictures and color them and make the things we had seen the charts we had seen in the school supply room. Other schools got all this kind of material. We had to buy it if we wanted it but we wanted our children to have the same kind of experiences and be taught the same way and get the same kind of education so to show you how separate you know separate affected us and I found out even more about that when I went to the white school. We had at Marie Davis we had one film projector and I guess about 15 of us 15, 20 teachers to be shared between maybe two tape recorders. We’d roll them down the ramps back and forth, back and forth. When I went to Pineville Elementary they had film projectors each ramp had their own film projector. They had equipment sitting in the storage room with (ducks institute sits ) where they weren’t even being used. A tape recorder in every room. I mean this is firsthand to find out how equal you were you know we had not experienced anything like you know like the kind of equipment. And all those the teaching devices that they had books and tapes and things. I pulled them out of the storage room and everybody wanted to know “Where’d you get that? Where’d you get that?” “Came out of your storage room.” They had all this equipment they were not using you know using it and we had to spend our own money if we wanted to have the same kinds of things. So there was no such thing as separate but equal we were not equal at all and so it was one of those things where we wanted our children to have the same experiences you know given to them like they were being given to the white schools. So that was one thing they didn’t get the same kind of education that they were getting. I don’t think for the—that really happened because right now if you look at the situation we’re almost going back to where we were. The children are not performing like we had hoped they would they’ve been lost in large classes and being black they’ve been pushed aside or put in the office sitting out in the hall and things like that. So I don’t know whether I know they’re not getting the same kind of love and caring that they got in all black schools and that’s one reason why they have so many discipline problems. And one of the reasons and now you know with the schools going back the neighborhoods going back to the neighborhood schools and buses are just about on its way out. Maybe that was not a good thing like Price said earlier it was good in some ways and not so good in others. But I’m not sure whether they got whether we got the kind of--most of our students some of them survived and are surviving and some of them get lost in the shuffle.

JF: Yeah you know I agree I sometimes wonder how just how—just how beneficial integration was for us as black people. I know that integration managed to take away from us a lot of prime roast I mean that’s one thing it did. Integration managed to put us in the outskirts of town away from the central city. It did that. It made some folks rich and made a lot of us poor. It did that. Now as far as the educational system is concerned it put us in its put us in the same classroom as the white kids but I found out that the kids lost themselves in the classrooms with white kids because at Second Ward we learned at little bit we learned about black folks too.

VE: Uh-huh.

JF: We learned about the contributions that the black people made to America. To Charlotte to North Carolina.

[Phone Rings]

VE: To America too.

JF: But you know now I don’t think that there might be a little more emphasis on the contributions of black folks in America but I don’t think it’s the kind that they received in the predominant black schools. The discipline its not there you know my wife teaches in the Charlotte-Mecklenburg schools now and I know for a fact I mean I go to her class sometimes to help her out a little bit and its just pathetic. You know I mean seems like they give her what they consider to be the worst black kids. The black kids that’s ADHD or ADD or kids who have discipline problems. They still do push black kids through the system when they have not mastered the skills. I’m not telling you something I think I’m telling you something that I know for a fact. But at Second Ward if you didn’t learn it if you didn’t earn it you didn’t get it. Am I right Price?

PD: Yeah.

JF: I mean I’m sorry if you have to stay back but if you weren’t ready to go then you had to stay there. But the teachers they made it available for you they did everything possible for you to learn. They would go the extra mile and its just not happening now. So I mean I don’t think I think integration probably no matter what anybody says it was a good thing for blacks but blacks was not the only ones to benefit from integration because my white sisters and brothers on a financial end they definitely benefited from integration. They definitely integrated they benefited from it.

KM: How?

JF: Well I mean look at the financial bonanza of Brooklyn. We’re talking about the 20/10 plan that’s pretty much going to be its going to be lily white. I mean its going to be 9% white ownership. 9% of the population that you find in the area that includes the 20/10 plan will be white. We might have a new high school but if we do it will be white.

END OF SIDE A. START OF SIDE B.

JF: What this whole integration thing has done you have blacks here and what this integration has done is just moved us all out here. So where we all [SOMETHING MAY BE MISSING FROM HERE] never never.

PD: They’ll never--.

JF: Because they’ve made it so hard for a black business to survive.

PD: That’s right. That’s right.

JF: You know in my neighborhood if Price had a grocery store he knew I’m going to be a costumer.

PD: Absolutely.

JF: And if I didn’t have the money—

PD: Yeah.

JF: I could go look—

PD: That’s right.

JF: Black folks could go hungry in a black community.

PD: Yeah.

JF: We didn’t go hungry.

PD: That’s right.

JF: OK.

PD: You’ll starve out there now though. [Laughter]

JF: You’ll starve out there now. But we didn’t go hungry.

PD: That’s right.

JF: Because somebody would feed you.

PD: Yeah.

JF: You know what I’m saying I mean somebody would bring you a pile of pinto beans. Give you a slab of fatback. Give you three dollars to go to Mr. Clark’s grocery store and get you something to eat.

PD: Yeah. Yeah.

JF: But you didn’t go hungry in the black community.

PD: The black community was strong—strong.

JF: It didn’t happen. But now we’re so separated so fragmented in this city in that now that you know if Price goes hungry I wouldn’t know about it.

PD: Yeah.

JF: But back in the black community if you went hungry—

PD: Yeah. Now you’re talking.

JF: I’d know about it. I’d know about it. And everybody in the community would be there for you.

PD: Yeah.

JF: That’s—but integration has changed all that.

PD: Yeah.

JF: It changed all that and it’s given our kids a sense of—I don’t know—given our kids a sense that they don’t care about each other anymore. One thing that we were all pretty much in the same boat when we was in Second Ward because there were no rich kids.

PD: Yeah.

JF: You know you’re going to have some kids had a—Price might’ve had a TV at his house--.

PD: Yeah.

JF: But if he had one then everybody when they pulls into his house looking at it. But I mean no one had anything. All we had was each other.

PD: That’s right.

JF: And that’s what it was all about. That’s where that love and understanding and the camaraderie and the fellowship support. We were just there for each other. Kids now my young black brothers and sisters nowadays just they’ve just I don’t know they’ve adapted to the society that they’re into. They’ve become a part of integration and then they’ve been left alone so they’ve been given a false sense of identity.

KM: What is their identity now do you think?

JF: Well you know I wonder if a lot of these kids even know what it is to be black anymore. You know I really do because I really think they struggle to find out who they really are. A false sense of identity.

VE: I don’t think some of them realize that they are black.

JF: I don’t think they know who they are yeah.

VE: I just got on in the tail end of your conversation.

JF: Yeah but I don’t think a lot of these kids realize who they are I don’t think they realize where they—what it’s all about how they came to be in--. My daughter’s in Buffalo and I love my daughter and I’ve talked to her but I really don’t think she really understands how it is that she came to be able to go to Buffalo. To--.

PD: What the struggle was all about.

VE: How you got there.

JF: Yeah what it’s all about.

PD: How you got there.

JF: Why she’s able to ride the bus or you know if she drives a car next year how—why it is that she’s able to drive a car. You know why does she get a chance to go to London. You know I don’t think she understands you know how many people had to fall for her to be able to stand up straight and walk. You know I don’t think she understands those things. And I think that’s a terrible loss for our black kids because they’ve been given that false sense of identity like it’s always been there for them. It’s not it’s not always been there for them. You know Vermelle and Price had to suffer so that I could graduate in 1969. These two people suffered for me.

PD: Uh-huh.

JF: OK they blazed a trail for me. I mean they both of these guys made it so much easier for me to get an education. Believe me when I’m saying you know yeah we’re all members of the same association but you guys made it a lot easier for me to go to school--.

VE: And you’re doing the same thing for the younger generation.

JF: Because of what you did I was able to go to school you know. I went to two years of junior college and I was able to do that. You have to understand that it’s not always been easy for Price or Vermelle but you can only look at them and admire them for being strong enough to make it. Our kids today though they don’t want to hear it though.

PD: No.

JF: They don’t want to hear it and you know “I’m doing it by myself. I’m doing it on my own.” That’s a joke.

VE: [Laughter]

KM: Well now let’s see one of you graduated in 1969 another in 1939 and another in 19--.

VE: ’49.

KM: --49. Now the Supreme Court decision the Brown decision happened in 1954 so when did the school system integrate? Did it integrate then? In 1954?

JF: No.

KM: Why not? What happened?

PD: That word—that word that big word that the supreme court put in there “With all deliberate speed” I have seen that discussed right here recently that was the hold up. What does “all deliberate speed” mean? And somebody had gone back and looked it up and I don’t want to quote what it said but it did not happen.

KM: Well why not that was a Supreme Court decision?

PD: That’s was a decision.

KM: The law of the land.

PD: Yes.

KM: So if the Supreme Court makes a ruling in 1954--.

PD: Uh-huh.

KM: When did the schools integrate in Charlotte again? When did the schools de-segregate?

JF: ’69-’70.

KM: 1969-1970. So what accounts for a 15 year gap? Why does it take 15 years?

PD: The powers that be.

JF: Those who made the law was the ones who administered the law.

VE: And had it not been for Judge McMillan or (undecipherable ) where he is now--.

PD: Absolutely.

VE: To enforce something.

PD: A southern judge where was he from Alabama?

VE: He made it possible here in Charlotte.

JF: I don’t think he did it out of choice.

VE: He—well probably not but at least he did--.

PD: Well he didn’t do it out of choice but he did it out of the law. He said that’s the law and if you’re going to have a law--.

VE: We gotta figure out a way to do it.

PD: You hope--yes.

VE: You gotta figure out a way how it could be done. He came up with the—not him by himself—but the idea of something because with the neighborhood schools it was not going to happen so he got out—the state worked out the plans with children to be bused--.

PD: Yes.

VE: And of course we got the hard part of that.

PD: Yes.

VE: Our little children had to be bused all the way across town.

PD: Yes.

VE: And the older children got to you know stay in their school—well it changed back and forth. But it ended up with our children a lot of years being bused to a different school every year you know changing schools. And it put the hardship on the black children more than--I don’t think the other children were bused this much.

JF: This happened all over the (spectrum ) man.

VE: It is.

JF: You got this guy in Huntersville Larry Gauvreau.

VE: Inspector.

JF: He’s just a--I mean what a record he’s a typical redneck. I mean this guy he’s just there he represents the rich suburbs ( upon the field in ) and all the money invested in those places there. And he’s been trying to get all those people up there to make it possible for those kids to go to school in that area.

VE: In that neighborhood.

JF: And knowing that that’s where I mean that’s a really wealthy area.

PD: Oh yeah.

JF: So they would have everything and a lot of the kids in the inner cities will have nothing. See that’s just plain. And they will definitely keep this guy on the school board.

PD: Oh yeah.

JF: Because his constringent will definitely make sure that he’s there to represent them because they agree with his ideas. They don’t want their kids coming from Huntersville going to school with some poverty stricken black kid. Some kid who’s on free or reduced lunch. That’s disgraceful you know? And I don’t care how moralistic these people say they are and it’s just not like that. You know I’ve worked around them and I know what it’s all about. They live in big 35 hundred square foot homes. Have somebody clean up the yard and everything else. I mean they’re living large. You know and they don’t want their kids going to J.H. Gunn. Marie G. Davis.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: You know.

PD: Let me tell you what it was like though—this is before integration. Because after integration came people started quieting down and whatnot. But you would have people to come to the school to speak to students and these would be white people. Or either your teacher would take you on a fieldtrip and I never will forget this. You had one fire station here in Charlotte, North Carolina that was up on Davidson right near Trade Street. That was the only fire station in the city. Mrs. Mildred Philips God rest her soul in peace she is dead now she took me on this fieldtrip. I laughed about it she and I. I laughed about it because when she took us up to see the fire station and whatnot the fireman up there asked me I guess I was maybe 7 or 8 years old and asked me “Don’t you wish you were white so you could ride on the fire truck?”

VE: [Laughter]

JF: Lord.

PD: Then I remember another person white person came to Morgan school and I loved to draw I could sketch and my—I had a brother that was better than I was. Mrs. Anderson came in there one day and gave me some paper and said “Price why don’t you sit down and draw some cars because Jim—AC or whoever it was it is General Motors was how they were listed then said that they were looking for somebody to draw some cars that would be cars of the future and I did. I sat down and I drew some cars and some of them looked like cars which you have today. Then comes this white fellow there and then they didn’t mind using the N word then and he came and he asking us little kids “What do you what to be when you grow up?” and I told him “I wanted to be an artist” and he told me “There are no N artists” and whatnot like that. And that’s the reason why I say that I can go back to Second Ward’s teachers who said “Regardless of what you’re going to be, be the best you can. I don’t care what it is. If its cleaning toilets be the best class janitor that there is.” This lowlife piece of--.

VE: Alright alright alright.

KM: Go ahead.

PD: This lowlife piece of dog manure had the nerve enough to tell me “There are no N artists out here.”

VE: [Laughter]

PD: How are you going—I look back at these kind of things where in some I say some now there be some they played with my with your mind as a child and whatnot.

VE: That’s the way they kept you down that was their reason to be that--.

PD: Yes and I’ve gone through a lot of that going on fieldtrips and things like that and I look back on it and its hard it all seems like a joke. But its like I told another interviewer one time that in the last ten years I believe it is ten years now I have begun to feel like when I hear those words spoken “We the people” I feel a little bit like that means me too. I’ve got my foot in the door just about that much.

VE: Just don’t let the door close.

PD: Don’t let the door close on me but when we say “We the people”--.

VE: [Laughter] Close it slowly.

PD: I do feel a little bit like “We the people” and this is the truth everyday I get up I feel like that America has improved just a little bit more with this race situation. Race is something in America that nobody likes to discuss nobody wants to talk about it but they’ll participate in it but they don’t like to talk about it. You get what I mean? And I would like to see I wish it was right now even your daddy I wish that he was living so I could tell him because when he gave me my diploma and he told me “You weren’t the best student.” I laughed and I said “But I’m going to show you I’m going to be a good person I’m going to do something with my life.” I wish I could’ve if he was alive today I’d like to show him--.

VE: He’s smiling down on you.

PD: I retired at age 50 I mean retired. But I’d like to go back and let some of these especially some of these white Americans here in Charlotte as a young kid coming up. You have to be careful what you say to a young kid because I could’ve gone out that day and been a terrorist because I hated it so. I hated this country I hated it I hated it because it had killed my very soul. But like I said now I do feel like when they say “We the people” you’re talking about me.

VE: That you too.

PD: I’m included in that and right now I don’t want to see anything happen to this country because I believe that America is really trying to do the right thing because I feel like if I should pick up the phone in the morning and somebody has set a cross on fire in my yard I feel like America will go to the limit to find out who did it. But a few years ago they couldn’t care less probably wouldn’t even send nobody out there to investigate.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: I had to get over that I had to get that out.

JF: But you know what racism has gone from--it used to be just blatant.

PD: Yeah.

JF: But now they’ve put some different wrinkles in it.

VE: They don’t wear the white sheets.

PD: No.

VE: And they have blue suits and white collars but they’re still there.

JF: They’re still there. If you look at something as simple as the new sex discrimination lawsuits you know.

PD: Yeah.

VE: If they put on a white sheet around some of these young blacks now I think some of them would get hung.

PD: [Laughter]

VE: They would hang them with their own--.

PD: Ain’t nowhere in the world that guy would put on that sheet and that dunce cap and go over there at Luther theatre and march up and down because what was playing--.

VE: Those blacks would hang him by his own sheets.

PD: Something was playing Othello or something was playing. And he put that sheet on and that dunce cap those boys would ride over there to get him and he wouldn’t know--.

VE: He wouldn’t know which way to get out.

PD: You can’t do that anymore.

VE: I didn’t mean to cut you off John.

PD: Was I running?

VE: Yeah.

PD: Oh I’m sorry.

JF: No I was just saying if you look at the new laws they put just like these days like the sexual discrimination lawsuits and all this and you know in my opinion and
I could be wrong but blacks are the ones who suffer from these laws more than anyone else because there’s always a white woman saying a black man did something. And a black man is always the one who suffers. Or they have a black woman who said that a black man did something like to Clarence Thomas you know I mean look at what Clarence endured. Its just you know I think black—white people are bigger than that but black people are not.

PD: You all are not old enough to know about the Scottsboro case. It was a case in Alabama where these black boys were riding the train and I had the—I really had the opportunity to shake this white woman’s hand one of the white women that was on the train. She went around making speeches and saying “They did nothing.” But nobody—some of them died I think George Wallace pardoned one. One was still living and he went blind in prison but George Wallace pardoned him and let him go free before he died. But that Scottsboro case was where there were two white women riding the train and some black dudes got on there and somebody saw them and they hollered “Rape” or something like that. And that was the trial of the century like O.J.

VE: [Laughter] It got a lot of attention.

PD: [Laughter] It got a lot of attention. The Scottsboro case.

JF: I would just like—I would just like to see the black kids because you know because its—I’m 53 but I don’t think that 40 years will do it. If I live to be 100 I think it’s going to take more time but I’d like to see the kids coming up today just to be able to understand who they are and be given a fair shake.

PD: Yeah.

JF: I mean--.

PD: You’re how old now?

JF: 53.

PD: 53 well yeah you missed it by 10 years I was just going to tell you that right there on Davidson and Trade street this guy opened this greasy spoon hotdog stand and the great big sign out there in front of his house said “N’s and dogs not allowed”. And that was out there now he couldn’t do that now.

VE: Nu-uh.

PD: The mayor would go down there with his axe and chop it down. But that’s how things were back then that’s how things were back then. I was laughing with
Vermelle and I was telling her that Strum Thurmond wasn’t the only one out that night slipping around dipping in the chocolate.

VE: [Laughter]

PD: They were mixing then because my brother was going with a white girl she he chose just like my brother. And I was very afraid and I’ve seen many a chauffeur bring the Misses and come to Cherry and go to the bootleg joint and get drunk and go upstairs and rest a while--.

VE: [Laughter]

PD: --And whatnot. I’ve seen it all.

JF: See the whole system is a lot smarter now its not—you know they set you up.

PD: Yeah.

VE: Yeah they do.

JF: It’s like Vermelle said they let you hang yourself it’s not necessarily what you do its what you say. It’s your presence a lot of times put you in--.

PD: Yeah.

JF: You see it’s like the way it is in America now because it is unfortunate because we could get along so well in America.

PD: You should because we’ve been doing this long enough I’m eighty years old. Eighty years old last Thursday. And I’m telling you I’ve been retired 30 years come December 17 coming out an entire 30 years.

KM: I want to be like you.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: I look back at it and I tell you my life has passed just like that its gone. And it seems like just yesterday that I was working on Trade street at a little paint store
when the KKK would march up ( townline ) again or something like that would happen and they were always coming in these painters or whatnot and discussing things and all they discussed was “Black crime, black crime, black crime.” But what you see on TV about black crime or whatnot reading the paper--that’s not black life in Charlotte. In my neighborhood where I live I say to myself “Godunnit it’s too quiet out here. Somebody better turn the music up loud let’s party or do something.” You get what I mean?

JF: I’m saying that’s what you’re saying.

PD: That thing that you see with this little dude with his hood over his head walking into the police station that’s not black life.

JF: Yeah I understand. My neighborhood is quiet too.

PD: That’s, that’s--.

JF: I’m not complaining about it I’m just saying.

VE: [Laughter].

PD: I say to myself somebody go out there and cut two or three big watermelons. [Laughter] And I don’t even like watermelons but that’s all they want to show on

TV. Is me eating some watermelon or somebody with their head covered up.

VE: Do you remember when Edgar’s used to be on the square.

PD: On the square.

VE: --and they had the Rebel room.

PD: Yeah.

VE: The place where you couldn’t go in there--.

PD: No.

VE: You could sit down and--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: But up on the entrance they had this big bale it looked like a big bale of cotton or something and this black man sitting up on there with a very big piece of
watermelon.

PD: Yeah.

VE: Right there in the entrance--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: And I said “Well who wants to go in there anyway”.

PD: Yeah.

VE: I said you know that’s the way they feel about us and they eat more watermelon than we do.

PD: Yeah. And I don’t understand it you’re gonna laugh at somebody—I’m going to get my blood pressure up.

VE: [Laughter]

JF: Well you know I hope that the foundation can—I hope that we as a foundation can reach out to these young blacks and try to educate them and I hope that the black folks in the community and in the city and everywhere will go to will check out our website and check out the Charlotte-Mecklenburg African-American Museum you know and--.

VE: Going into the schools and taking our exams and stuff like that.

KM: What is your website?

VE: We don’t have a webpage yet we’re working on one for Second Ward. But we will have soon.

PD: Let’s let him get back we’ll be having somebody else coming in let’s get back to yours.

KM: OK well just two more questions.

PD: Yeah.

JF: I’m sorry.

KM: And we’re through. No that’s alright. You talked about the phrase in the constitution earlier Mr. Davis “We the people”.

PD: Uh-huh.

KM: Describe the process how you came to feel that it was about “We the people” that where as perhaps earlier you did not feel included.

PD: I felt before I begin to feel I was included in “We the people” I felt like a thing because it goes way back where in--now I love to read black history. And I’d love to
go back to where in the beginning of Jim Crow and whatnot and I was considered nothing but a thing a piece of property. But here lately I begin to see images of blacks and government and medicine involved. You name it and anything here in the United States anywhere you look. You walk into the building and ask “May I see the chairman of the board” or whatnot big companies. Conglomerates. You don’t know whether a black a Porte Rican or an Afghani—you don’t know whose gonna walk out that’s head of that company. And that has given me a little hope and a little pride. Now I’ve been embarrassed by some of the people that are up there to be honest with you I don’t like Clarence Thomas and that’s another story.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: But there are other people in government I looked even George Bush has surrounded himself with a lot of blacks and whatnot and I’ve noticed that a lot of you see a lot of talk shows and whatnot that blacks get on there and whites really begin to listen to them. There were a few years back when a black spoke nobody listened to them they didn’t want to hear what he had to say. I begin to look at this case down in Mississippi. Dynamite bomb that blew up the church and killed the poor little white girl the guy came in there this is a white guy he said “I’ve always knew he done it and I’m coming in there to get him” and he went back and got him and he died in jail. Blacks go to court now they have a chance to win which used not to be. Blacks can go and apply for jobs. Blacks are in the sports. You name it and I’ve sat down one day and I thought about it and I looked at it and I said to myself--this is after 9/11. I—me and a few other guys sitting there I belong a breakfast men’s club and we--all old timers sitting and I said “You know something if you commit a crime in America now you can burn that cross if you wanna you can lynch somebody if you wanna. America is coming after you because America got shook up and awakened by that 9/11.” And that’s when I took a different look at it and I looked and I said “Now I feel like after looking at all of these people in government law medicine whatnot.” I said “I’m beginning to feel like yes I am a part of that “We the people””. And I really believe that I really mean it. I really believe it that America has finally said “I can’t kill them off because the world is looking so I had to find a way to live with it.” I’m talking about me a person of color.

VE: I don’t want to burst your bubble a little bit but it’s like this situation--.

JF: If you don’t bust it I’m going to bust it.

VE: --is like a pendulum on a clock. But if you look at the situation now that pendulum is going back the other way and they’re doing things to—.
UNKNOWN: Hello.

VE: --to set you back. We’re going backwards slowly and we have to be so careful about what’s going on. You see these people in these positions but how long will you see them?

PD: That’s true.

VE: You know and they’re weeding out you know slowly here and there--.

PD: I happen to agree with you.

VE: And you might not see it in wholesale but--.

JF: You know I feel like personally there’s a lot of tokenism going on and I’m like Vermelle in a way I have to shoot a hole or two in Price’s “We the people” because in my experience I see that a lot of companies in order to meet certain legal obligations they will place a black on a board. Or they will hire the minimum number of blacks for positions whatever the legal limit is. If the government says “Well you need to have 5% of your workforce black” they will at least hire they will hire 4% black and 1% Mexican which meets the minority goals. But I don’t think that they’re going to--you may find one or two companies that will hire or promote on the basis of what a person’s achievement is but most of them won’t.

PD: You proved my point that’s inclusion. You’re going by the law. That’s inclusion that’s what I’m trying to tell you.

VE: I’m not trying to disagree with you when I said be very careful--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: Be very mindful of the fact that that pendulum--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: You know its swinging back.

PD: Yeah but that means inclusion and that proves my point that I say in the last—I won’t go back 10 but I’ll say in the last 5—6 years I’ve taken inventory and I’ve
taken stock and I still say that America will protect me as quick as they will the next person which they wouldn’t do before and that includes me to make me say when they say “We the people”.

JF: Why do you think they’ll protect you though?

PD: Let me tell you something--.

VE: Maybe a little more than they would have 20 years ago.

PD: Yeah let me tell you something--.

VE: When we have this protection that we--.

PD: Let me tell you something that 9/11 but if you sneezed too loud or something people will look at you. That 9/11 has awakened a lot of people.

VE: But I don’t know what’s--.

JF: Well the thing about 9/11 I mean you can’t forget about just go a little bit ahead a little bit back from 9/11 before 9/11 do you still feel like “We the people”?

PD: Before 9/11?

JF: Yeah.

PD: A little bit I begin to feel like it a little bit a little bit I do. There was a congresswoman from Texas Barbara--.

KM: Barbara Jordan.

PD: Barbara Jordan. She also said when Nixon was being impeached she said “I begin to feel like when you say “We the people” I’m part of that “We the people”
and I’m not going to sit here and let Nixon do these kind of things to America.” But I do I do.

JF: Well I think she was speaking of a different reference as to what you’re speaking of.

PD: Well I’m speaking of a different reference—before I wasn’t included in “We the people” when they said “We the people” I was a thing I was a--.

VE: I never felt that I was a thing now they may have looked at me as a thing--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: But I have never felt that way about myself.

PD: I said according to their description.

VE: And I’ve always felt like I was a part of the people.

PD: I didn’t.

VE: They may not have protected me not as much as—and right now I don’t think they would do—they do a whole lot of things. You’d like for people to feel about
you normally not being forced to like you or protect you or whatever but to feel like its not a court order you know its not something that’s enforced on them to make them feel like--.

PD: No this is not a court order this is not a court order.

VE: Things have happened because--.

PD: I did get that feeling I have gotten that feeling.

VE: Things have happened because of court orders that’s what I’m saying. Some things have happened to make other things happen and you know in protection of people. You look at the people that are being killed now by policemen and everybody--.

PD: About what?

VE: By policemen.

PD: Oh yeah that’s always been a big--.

VE: And they’re blacks and they’re not being—look at what—oh gosh the man out in—that they drug—you know with the--.

KM: Bird in Texas.

PD: In Texas.

VE: In Texas I mean--you know what happened to those people?

PD: He’s on death row.

VE: Yeah he’s going to be there for a long time.

PD: No they’re going to knock on his door in the morning.

VE: Yeah if it had been a white person he’d been gone.

PD: No he’s on death row now he’s spent ten years trying to find a way to get off it.

VE: I mean if he’d been a black person they’re going to get rid of him one way or another.

PD: There is no way that this guy who drugged Judge Bird there is no way this guy is going to live. This guy they’re going to knock on his door early one morning
and they’re going to have the priest of whatever religion he is that will walk with him that last mile and he is going to fry or either lay on that table and go on to sleep.

JF: See you said you retired how many years ago—30 years ago?

PD: It’ll be 30 January 17th coming.

JF: OK well let me put it to you this way the work force has become just a little more complicated.

PD: I couldn’t make it out there today.

JF: See during that time they’d look at you and say “Price you’re fired.”

PD: No they couldn’t do that.

JF: Oh yeah they could.

VE: They’d find a way.

PD: And then what would happen.

VE: There’s many ways.

JF: You see now they may not they—it’s a little bit illegal to just say “Price you’re gone” so they have to put a little something into it you know--.

PD: But to ( undecipherable ).

JF: You’d have to maneuver it but you’re still gone.

PD: But they’d have to be right.

JF: Price 30 years ago they didn’t have to be right.

PD: But they did I’ve belonged to a union and I’ve seen I’ve seen some people there that I didn’t like.

JF: Well let’s forget about the union OK.

PD: Yeah but I saw people there working that I didn’t like and they’d fire them but they couldn’t fire them.

VE: What’s the next question? Because we’ll be on this until next Tuesday trying to tame Price is--.

PD: [Laughter]

VE: On “We the people”.

KM: Well my next question my last question and it’s on you is there anything you’d like to say that I haven’t asked about?

VE: I think we’ve done all of that because you didn’t ask us. I don’t know.

PD: Yeah. I would just like to say that education is the key and you can’t live in your own little world nowadays you can’t like it--. I can’t live in my little world over here
and live alone and whatnot. Like I said when you walk in nowadays to get a job you don’t know who is going to be your supervisor. And I’ve seen this right here in Charlotte and I’ve been in places and they say “She’s CEO.”

VE: And go back next week and they gone.

PD: No.

VE: A lot of times.

PD: No we got a girl we have a girl--.

VE: Well look at your system here in Charlotte look at your commission your city councilmen and your school board what’s happening? What’s happening with the
school—who’s on the school board now?

PD: Well that might be a bit--.

VE: I mean I’m saying how things are changing I keep saying how things are going back. You’re eventually going to have all white--no reflections on anybody but things are just swinging back slowly but surely.

JF: You got your Joe White just not he’s not, he’s not doing—( Kit Crandes ) she’s Larry’s side buddy I mean this is--.

VE: It’s slowly changing—things are just slowly changing.

JF: It’s a joke.

PD: I still must say that I’ve taken inventory of what used to be and what is now and I do feel like I am. And still said and I can’t get away from it I still say when I hear
those words “We the people” I feel like I am a “We the people” because if they don’t treat me right or don’t do me right I will get on out there just like Dr. King and march up and down and holler loud and whatnot. I feel like everyday that I get up I feel like America has changed a little bit--.

VE: Well you’ve been in those experiences that make you feel differently--.

PD: Yeah.

VE: --see we didn’t experience those kinds a whole lot of those kinds of things so I’ve always felt like we were a part of the “We the people”.

PD: I didn’t.

VE: That’s why I’m saying you’ve experienced so many other things--.

PD: Yeah I did not, I did not.

VE: --that we did not experience. It makes a different.

PD: I’m just not coming around to it. I’m just not coming around to it.

VE: And I’d hate to go come around to it almost too late.

PD: It is almost too late.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: And it’s been one good hell of a ride I’ll tell you that.

VE: [Laughter] He’s enjoying--.

JF: He’s having an awakening.

VE: A rude awakening.

PD: [Laughter] yeah. Everyday that I get up I feel like that America has changed a little bit. All on the account of 9/11.

VE: It has I agree with I’m not disagreeing that.

PD: Hitler didn’t do it. Hitler didn’t--Hitler race had but he didn’t do anything to change America’s mind.

JF: But you know what Price you have to look at it like this I have to be frank with you but I went to the war of 1969.

PD: Uh-huh.

JF: That war brought I mean it brought whites and blacks together.

PD: Uh-huh.

JF: Just like 9/11. I mean I think in a time when we as a people face a major war or a conflict or something happens within our country that we all get patriotic and
we hug each other you know. We tighter than tight. But when times are good we separate.

VE: Uh-huh.

JF: You know everybody goes out to their own corner and come out fighting.

PD: Let me tell you this I’ll still say that I still--.

JF: And I can appreciate where you’re coming from but I’m here to tell you that you might be looking at the world with rose colored blinders because it’s not quite
that way.

PD: I hope not.

JF: The workforce is not that way. The workforce that we—that I’m into right now--.

PD: That’s because North Carolina has that right to work the law and the unions out here are nothing but let me tell you something I’ve belonged to the teamsters and that was Jimmy Hoffa--

JF: [Laughter]

PD: And they said don’t worry--.

JF: He was a crook man.

PD: Yeah them thugs were running the union--.

VE: But does how many--.

PD: Yeah that’s different when you get above the Mason Dixon Line once you get away from DC--.

VE: Let’s not beat this horse to death but I agree with what you’re saying but we’re beating a dead horse.

PD: I’m a part of that “We the people”.

JF: I can’t--.

VE: I am too.

JF: I can’t bring him down from it man.

PD: I believe I’m “We the people”.

VE: Well he had a lot of hardship that we didn’t have.

PD: The last ten years. Yes I did.

VE: He had a lot of hardship.

JF: I tried to break him down but I couldn’t.

PD: No you can’t break me down.

VE: I don’t want to break him down I want to let him keep singing that he’s part of the people.

JF: [Laughter]

PD: I am. [Laughter]

VE: Let him keep on singing it. I’m glad you’ve joined the club with the rest of us people.

PD: I hated this world. I wished I could’ve died.

VE: I have never experienced that kind of thing but I can understand where you’re coming from.

PD: It hurt I didn’t know what it felt like to die. Huh?

VE: I can understand where you’re coming from if you listen to people that you know I listened to my grandmother talk about slavery and how they learned you know
how her mother did things to--. I mean you came through a different period of time you see we didn’t experience those kinds of hardships--.

PD: That’s true. Yeah.

VE: And I just you know and I agree--.

JF: But I did.

VE: I’m not disagreeing with you.

JF: But I did young lady.

PD: But now I agree with your pendulum.

JF: [Laughter].

PD: I agree with that 100%.

VE: It’s swinging back slowly.

PD: But have you ever seen the picture “Gone with the Wind”?

VE: Yeah uh-huh.

PD: It’s gone with the wind. [Laughter] Let’s get your last question.

VE: He just did.

KM: That’s it I’m done. Miss Ely--.

VE: That’s a good place to end.

KM: Mr. Funches, Mr. Davis thank you very much for your time.

PD: You’re quite welcome.

VE: Thank you for listening to all this--.

[Tape ends]
[90 MINS.]

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