Interview with Charles Diggs
QUESTION 4
INTERVIEWER:

CAN YOU DESCRIBE FOR US GENERALLY THE SYSTEM OF SEGREGATION IN THE SOUTH AT THAT TIME AND IF IT AFFECTED YOU BEING A CONGRESSMAN FROM THE SOUTH.

Charles Diggs:

Well, uh segregation in the South was er alive and well when I came to er Mississippi I was not a stranger to the South because I had been stationed in the South during the war, World War II, er and er I, as an enlisted man and and as an officer and er of course my family coming from the south had er uh also raised my uh my level of of of interest in the area uhh, but it was very stark. Umm, by law er uhm it affected every, every aspect of of of society. I can remember for example when I went to Fisk University er in 1942 uh when you crossed the river when you, when you left Cincinnati, you were moved from on the train up to th to a segregated part err as you went into Kentucky. I can remember er traveling from er er the North to the South as a as an enlisted man when I first went into the army in 1943 and uh, I traveled across the country and once I uh crossed the er Mason-Dixon er Dixon line the er and and went in into the dining car, uh they pulled a curtain around me so that I was er technically uh separated from the rest of the people who were in the in the dining room. And I could go on and on about being directed to go up in the balcony in theaters in the South er uh not being able to sit on the first floor and uh matters of that type. And it affected, obviously, employment er and er of course uh it affected politics because er uh they had uh fixed the primary system in in uh in these Democratic states er so that blacks could not er could not vote or they would be limited in their in their voting uh potentialities.