Felt the Racism There

“When you feel like you have no recourse, you take it.”

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Transcript for Felt the Racism There

We knew that we couldn’t live in Miller, we knew we couldn’t live in Glen Park, we knew we couldn’t live in Brunswick.  You just knew where you could live.  And I was proud of Gary, and I didn’t know how racist it was.  I guess I became more aware of it once I graduated from high school and went to Bloomington, and there I had culture shock.  Because I was being taken out of a black community—even though Gary was a white community with a black population—I was put into a school that…there were three hundred blacks among thirty-five thousand students.  And I felt the racism there.  For example, I had a freshman instructor, and I’ll say his name, because I think his name needs to be shared—it was Johnson Carr—and what he said to us is, ‘If you are a Negro,’—because that’s what we were called then; we weren’t African Americans, or black—‘If you’re a Negro, the best you can get out of my class is a ‘D.’  And I’m saying, ‘Oh, I was an honor student.  I came out ninth in my class, so you’re not talking to me.’  Guess what I got out the class?  A ‘D.’  And that’s the only ‘D’ that was on my transcript.

And then my junior year, Dr. Scorzoni gave forty-five minute lectures on how Negroes were inferior to whites, and this was in sociology class.  This was a lecture, believe it or not.  And you’re sitting there, and you’re feeling uncomfortable.  At that point, students couldn’t speak out.  Professors were all-in-all.   I mean, you had no way of speaking against the professor.  But those were kinds of things…  You know, the white students on campus—if you know anything about campus life, students cut up in dorms.  They would put things like a tube of toothpaste underneath your door, and stomp it, and it spread all over your room.  They would put pennies around your door, which would create a suction, and you couldn’t open your door.  They did all kinds of things.  And basically, it was being done by white students, not African American or black students.  And if three or four of us gathered together in the hallway, the counselor would come out and tell you, ‘Disperse,’ you know?

It was those kinds of things, and at that time, in Bloomington, there was—most of the restaurants closed up about eleven or twelve o’clock at night.  And there was only one place that stayed open all night, and it’s called the Twenty-Four Hour Grill.  If we went there, they wouldn’t feed us.  They wouldn’t tell us to leave, but you just sat there, and sat there, and they ignored you.  That’s when I really felt racism.  And then, when that opens your eye, then you look back and think about other things, you know?  You take it.  When you feel like you have no recourse, you take it.  Yeah.  It’s what you do.  You take it.