Interview with David J. Vann
QUESTION 20
INTERVIEWER:

OKAY, THAT WAS A CAMERA ROLL OUT FOR CAMERA ROLL 519. WE ARE NOW GETTING READY TO START CAMERA ROLL 520. SAME INTERVIEW WITH MR. VANN. THE QUESTION WE'D LIKE TO EXPLORE A LITTLE BIT IS JUST GOING BACK TO THE DAYS OF SEGREGATION AGAIN, AND WHY WAS SEGREGATION SO HARD FOR PEOPLE TO BE WILLING TO ACCEPT—WHAT WAS GOING TO BE LOST BY IT?

David J. Vann:

Well, I guess it's human nature to have distrust or dislike people that are different from you. Tribes, in the anthropological situations, show similar things. We see similar things between religious groups, in various parts of the world. Um, But you had a society where people had grown up in it, and ever since the Supreme Court in the Plessy case, back in the beginning of the century, had put the blessings Of the Supreme Court of the United States on separate but equal. Um, you had a whole section of the country that had adopted laws, and they were adopted at the time, when I guess many people thought of black people as being as still being slaves, or their former slaves. You had people who had fought in the Civil War, and bled and died to preserve customs. Uh, You had, uh, broad accepted practices, and I think a lot of people forget, the city of Washington, D.C., the capital of this country was as segregated a city as Birmingham, Alabama, just up 'til a few years before this. And in that society, white people felt comfortable where they were, and most black people were adjusted to it, or appeared to be, to the white people, say, oh look how happy they are, and how well, we didn't know, but, uh, I don't think it's, uh, too different from things that have happened in other cultures, and other societies. But it is very hard, I know, my children would have a hard time believing today that you could put somebody in jail for drinking at the wrong drinking fountain. But people had, at that point, been led to believe that if they drank from the same fountain, they'd get diseases. You know, and people had been instilled with uh, personal fears, you've seen some of that with the AIDS thing. People just — just – that kind of fear.