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Alabama - Selma: Jo Anne Bland Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Joe Anne Bland in Selma, Alabama. Bland says she attended elementary through high school in Selma. She went to Clark Elementary and Parrish High School, the White high school at the time. She was part of the initial integrating group and says they were the worst four years of her life. There were eight students in the first integrating group and 1,619 White kids "dedicated to making our lives miserable." The teachers were also active in making her schooling difficult. Her little brother and sister also integrated schools. She remembers a fellow student would spit on her every day on the way to gym. Her father owned a deluxe cab company and Bland says she grew up being proud to be Black, believing she could be anything she wanted. She says the merchants of all the stores on the main street were White. They would serve Blacks but would stop in the middle of an order to serve any White customer. Bland says she considered herself very much a city girl. She thought the people from the country were "backwards" and uneducated. She recalls that they dressed funny to her, in very bright colors, and that their skin was darker then hers. Bland says red was a very popular color, as were flower prints and plaid. Hats were also in style. Bland says that perhaps those in the city took such offense to the colorful dress because the city Blacks were still trying to fit in with the White population. They dressed the same as Whites and tried to disassociate themselves from the colorful clothing of the country Blacks. Dent talks about fashion trends in New Orleans and the way they flaunted differences, rather than suppress them. Dent says this urge to dress in bright colors traces all the way to the African style of dress. Bland says that eventually she started to find the bright way of dressing attractive and wore bright cloths herself. Bland says her father wanted her to marry a country boy because they were hard working and married for life. The city boys were more like brothers then potential husbands. They talk about the varying facilities and utilities between the country and the city. Bland says she was the first family on the block with a phone and a TV and they essentially shared them with the whole neighborhood. Bland says her grandmother was the first to attend the Civil Rights meetings at the local church and often took her and her siblings.
Diner noises in background
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 151, Item 1, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.