Okay, Wide-Awake. I need testimony.
I’m starting a side project (working name: Segregation Chronicles) that will document the physical legacy of racial injustice in Wilson County. I was born in the waning days of legal segregation, and I haven’t lived here in almost 40 years, but I can reel off two dozen-plus sites that stand as mute testimony to trauma that continues to haunt us. I know y’all know more than I do, though, so I’m asking for your help. (Or your mama’s. Or your granddaddy’s.)
At which restaurants did we have to go around back for food? (Like Parker’s.) What theatres had separate entrances and black balconies? (Like the Drake.) What businesses had partitions in their sitting rooms — or whole separate sitting areas? (Like the train station.) Who wouldn’t let you eat at the lunch counter? Who had a colored water fountain (other than the county courthouse)? Where did the Klan rally? Where were German POWs allowed to rest, but your father was told to get his black ass up? Where was the black liquor house that had to pay off a white cop to sell white people liquor after midnight?
Please post here. Or email me at email@example.com. Or let me know if you’d rather call. All responses from any source, black or white, appreciated. Thank you, and stay tuned. (Especially if you want to know what this photograph shows.)
UPDATE: Check out Segregation Chronicles here, blackwideawake.tumblr.com.
Oh, please tell me that wasn’t a hanging tree. 😭
No, not at all. The shot is at Nash and Cone Sts.
I can hardly wait for this project to be completed. If I discover anything, I’ll be sure to pass it along. During my freshman year of high school (1977-78) Mrs. Workman took our class on a field trip to a nearby tobacco warehouse. There were bathrooms and water fountains with ‘White’ and ‘Colored’ signs. In 1977! I, and my classmates(99% of whom were white) were incredulous. We’d heard of such things, but since my year group was the first or one of the first to go through all years of our public school education integrated it just didn’t quite seem real.
Ah, Elinor Workman! I had her in both third and eighth grades. She was hardcore, but one of the most impactful teachers I had! I think I know which warehouse you’re talking about; it’s fountains were notorious. There’s a blogpost. I’ll find it. (I also need to update the Chronicles!)
Come to think of it Lisa, it was 8th grade, not 9th. I had Mrs. Leonard in 9th grade. I agree! Mrs. Workman definitely had a lasting impact on me. I loved her. I wish I’d had more teachers like her.
I’d love to read the blogpost.
I posted a link in response earlier!