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A White Southerner Remembers Segregation

Memories of Jim Crow and segregation in the South vary greatly depending on who's doing the remembering. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the recollections of Southern whites who lived during the segregation era often stand in stark contrast to the memories of African Americans. In this excerpt, Mary Laveux, a white resident of New Iberia, Louisiana, remembers that African Americans seemed happy during segregation: "the black people, nothing bothered them."

Mary Laveux: They had a little church back there and they would sing the most beautiful gospel music, sing you know. They had beautiful voices, some of them they'd sing and sometimes we'd go there at night and park about a block away just to listen, they just had that rhythm.

Ellis: So it was kind of joyous, the music.

Laveux: Oh yes. Oh they would play the music and dance. And their way of life, I think they were happier than the white people. Because nothing worried them, you know? Some white people, they were worried of sometimes about losing their land or trying to make things go, you know, they were the leaders. But the black people, nothing bothered them.

Source | Mary Laveux to Kate Ellis, "Our Negroes Were Happy," Oral History interview, from American Radioworks, "Remembering Jim Crow,"
Interviewer | Kate Ellis
Interviewee | Mary Laveux
Rights | Transcripts from "Remembering Jim Crow," an American Radioworks ® documentary produced by Stephen Smith, Kate Ellis and Sasha Aslanian, © (p) 2001 American Public Media. Used with permission. All rights reserved.
Item Type | Oral History
Cite This document | “A White Southerner Remembers Segregation,” SHEC: Resources for Teachers, accessed October 20, 2021,

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