Interviewer: Chavis Rahming
Interviewee: Mrs. Susan M. Howick
Interviewee: Mrs. Susan M. Howick
From: New Orleans
Growing up in the late 50’s and 60’s
Very tense in the city, the court order had come down that the public schools were to be integrated/ desegregated and backlash there was rather amazing. The interesting thing was that she grew up attending a private school, so her school was not in anyway, shape or form integrated nor did they have to be. but what was just a side story was that the son (Jimmy Wright) of the Federal Judge who ordered the desegregation of the northern school attended her school and his classmates taunted, teased, and bullied him because of his father. They had a cross burned on their front lawn and his dad got death threats. But New Orleans was an interesting place because in general until about the 40’s it was a very intergrated town, the lines were very blurred about black and white, so there wasn’t the tension. But when the school were made to integrate then the tension became higher and higher. Because New Orleans is kind of an interesting town just as far as the population you will have a street where Caucasian will live and right next to it there was another street where African-Americans lived. They never lived on the same street but always on the same neighborhood. So it was really kid of interesting that the response was as great as it was but it was as great as Southern States like Chattanooga and Birmingham. Because it was already history of the racist sword of mixing.
Ruby Bridges Case
One of the most famous cases happened was in one of the public schools in downtown New Orleans and the desegregation order came. The way that the school handled it was to literally have a classroom of white first graders and a classroom of one little white girl named Ruby. Ruby was in a classroom by herself with a teacher who was white and she went to school this way as the only child in a classroom everyday for a long time.
That is was the way that they were trying to keep the violence down and it was kind of a interesting way to not go against the court order but also not to go with the court order. “I remember driving with my father and I asked him what would you do with us if they integrated Country Day” he said “you will still be going to Country Day, we will not be doing the white flight type of thing where white parents take their kids out of the school and put them into a small Christian private school.” In New Orleans at the time the High School were even segregated by gender.
Sport Teams a little later in the 60’s and 70’s
Growing up with SEC football, Alabama desegregated their team and Bear Bryant recruited black players for Alabama for the first time. He knew he was missing a great population there who can really help him win games. These years were the first years that college football teams were desegregated. It was also a big deal when Georgia Tech had a black quarterback. At this time the colleges were all integrated but the idea to have a black quarterback was really rather amazing and it was sort of touted. The poor boy couldn’t get a break, every time he messed up it was a big deal to everyone. The swimming pools in New Orleans were alway segregated. When they tried to desegregate them the owners just closed them all down.
Growing up, never having African American friends
Growing up most white kids never had African-American friends. Terrible to say but the only African-American people that were around were maids and cooks at school. For Mrs. Howick her housekeepers name was Neda. It never seem like they were even she said and at that point of time she never saw why schools should be integrated it never bothered her. Not much of a big deal she never felt racist. The opportunities never arose. She always respected Miss Neda and the wonderful cooks a her school. No one in the school ever looked down on them and she remembered Ameel the janitor. He was a great guy who used to be a boxer and a friend (Hew Little) in her class really look up to him, saw him as a father figure. It was amazing how much love they had for each other. She never really saw much black people. Where she lived it was a white neighborhood. She never lived uptown where there was a more mixed area.