Interview with Rev. Ralph Abernathy

I'm going to get you to pick up, you were talking about segregation on the job.

Rev. Ralph Abernathy:

In the field of employment, blacks were not permitted to hold certain jobs in the South, only the menial jobs, domestic workers, and common and ordinary laborers. The only professional jobs that were open to blacks were the ministry, like I am in, the field of pastoring a black church, and the school teaching profession was open because of segregated schools. White teachers didn't normally teach black students. They would teach black students in private situations, private institutions, and so you would have principals of schools. We had a few doctors. Probably in the whole state of Alabama where I grew up we had less than five black doctors. And we, we didn't do anything but dig ditches and work with some white supervisor that told us everything to do. Life was miserable. Life was most difficult for black people during those days. We could not vote, We could not sit on the grand juries. We could not sit on, on the jury, period. There were no black judges. We had taxation without representation. To put it in another way, I would say the people who live in South Africa today—we at that particular time in the mid-fifties were where they are at this particular hour in South Africa.