Interview with Mayor Joseph Smitherman
QUESTION 32
INTERVIEWER:

WHAT WAS THE BIG DEAL? I MEAN WHAT WAS IT THAT DROVE THE WHITE PEOPLE GENERALLY TO FEEL THAT THAT…

Mayor Joseph Smitherman:

Well, okay, well the biggest thing that was used, and it's uh, somewhat political uh, you hardly hear it now, but the biggest okay. The biggest that was said and you grew up with that, if you give into those black people they'll end up marrying your sister. Uh, it was a racial uh, bitterness from that standpoint, you want ‘em marrying your sister, and uh, your son marrying a black and this sort of thing, that was one of the overriding things, they would always use that on you. And even though, you had people that grew up and blacks had a good relation with whites, poor whites and they worked together, they would always split and I think with jobs scarce in the agricultural area then, the whites were threatened with their jobs, you know, in a sense, if you can't do better and you won't work for this price, we'll get a black to do it, and they didn't say black you know, uh, so it was two things - race mixing and uh, economics. And you know, politicians in those days worked, worked that issue. They worked it, uh you got elected that way in the South and I imagine they do it up in Boston with the Catholics and the Protestants, I know they uh, do it in Ireland, I guess. You have, uh it's the same similar type thing, it may be more sophisticated, and not as out in the open, but uh, uh, they built up those things, fears, of losing the Catholic faith, or the Baptist faith, uh, fears of losing your white skin or losing your job.