Oral History: Carlton Pryor(Jaden McClain)


Overall, in American history, the social disadvantage of blacks has been present and is obvious even though people deny it. While speaking with my grandfather he believes the white privilege or the advantage over minorities still exist, and I agree with him. There are many big situations like the Trayvon Martin case, the Ferguson situation, and some situations that have been lost in history like the MOVE Bombing are all forms of racism or actions towards black people that simply happen the way they do for being black. In the times my grandfather spoke of(civil rights movement), blacks being treated unfairly, was not frowned upon and was a normal day to day thing. Now we are in 2015, and you would think that people would be past being racist, but because it is something that is taught and passed down to later generations it still  unfortunately exist. This leads to people who would have the advantage making white supremacy something realistic, and it leads to unnecessary situations or deaths of blacks with the encounters most times.

For example, one of the situations my grandfather told me people don’t pay enough attention to was the MOVE Bombing. This was a bombing where police destroyed 65 homes which was the whole neighborhood, leaving many homeless, and an unfortunate amount killed. The MOVE group was a black group of people who took one their surnames(last names) as Africa. This group was a black liberation group, and advocated for a larger group of people which is blacks in general. They owned a house all together which they called Osage, and they would use a speakerphone to scream obscenities. Once neighbors called the police saying that they were disturbing the peace, and somehow it lead to unnecessary death and destruction. When the count of homeless and dead people, were counted everyone was black or African American, which was not a surprise.


Interview between my grandfather Carlton Pryor and I, Jaden McClain,

J. M.- Ard, so the first question is how important do you think race is in America?

Grandfather- How important do I think race is in America?

J.M.- Yes

Grandfather- I think, um, race is very important in America, because America is a very multicultural country, where you have people from all different ethnic *sysities* (backgrounds) and it's important that people recognize each other as individuals rather that the way they look, the way they comb hair, the size they are, or how they speak, because life is about treating people equally.   

J.M.-Ard thank you, so um, so you know, when you were my age did you think being black, or your specific race was a dangerous thing, or people didn't like you for that?

Grandfather-When I was your age, um, race was an issue, however I was taught that your treat people the way you wanted to be treated, and to always be respectful to your elders and law enforcement. And as long as you live by credible ethics and you know that was is important is how you see yourself and how other people see you, you should not be threatened. Though I recognized that racism was there, I never let that get into the way of what I wanted to be. Ya know, and I never used the race card as a crutch. I just found ways to try to break down the barriers for example, when I tried to get a position they said, “well you don’t have this”, so I asked what do I need to do to get the position, and I went and got that certificate or degree, and I went back and they told me “I had to get something else”, and I went back until I go to the point where I backed them in a corner where they had nothing else to do except give me the position.

J.M.- So basically, they were being indirect and they didn’t want to give you a position based off of your race.

Grandfather- Well I couldn’t say, it was race related, or academia, but im pretty sure it dealt with race, but it didn't stop me from pursuing my goal.

J.M.- Right, so when you were younger when race was a big problem and you had segregation and things of that sort, were you apart of any kind of protesting or did you have anything to do with the ending of segregation?

Grandfather- Well I never was apart, well I was apart of a political group in my school when I was majoring in political science and I advocated, for treating people based on their credibility, and based on their credentials rather than the way they look, or their color. However I recognized there were rules and regulations, there was still areas all over the country through the south that was segregated, and that you still couldn’t do the things you thought you were aloud to do. For instance when I was in basic training in um, Kentucky, when I went into a restaurant to get food they ran out of food, although their were hundreds of people eating. So other than me creating an issue I went back to the base. When I was in the farm with my grandfather, and we went to the market my grandfather was very fair, and I couldn’t go in through the front door, I had to go to the back, and he couldn’t let them know that I was his grandson, because he compared to being white. So growing up you recognize boundaries that you have to deal with at that time, you had to deal with it.

J.M.- So how did that make you feel, do you think it made you a better person, or was it simply unnecessary?

Grandfather- I think um, i made me a better person, il say this you are who you are, and no one else can change you because of what they think of you, and think that you're something you're not. We were always taught that we could achieve and excel, even though I knew, and sometimes I was unhappy, and sometimes I got discouraged because I knew it was race related I didn’t let that stop me, because if you let that barrier stop you, you are laying into their hands because you become, factated.

J.M.- Right, um, hmm so for instance, if their was anything else you could have done to help, like you did with you political science, did you go around and speak to people about segregation, and how it should be fair, or was it more of a thing were you and some people just spoke about it.

Grandfather- I always told people that violence did not solve the segregation issue, what violence did was reinforce that we were arrogant, rebellious, and that we were hostile, because I recognized that I can be very expressive in my thoughts, and be considered radical, and however the white sector, who was racist or biased, felt like they were entitled to say anything, and they were just expressing their opinion. So tone, was very important, if you didn't deliver the right tone, you were not heard, if your tone was hostile back then, the actions that came upon you were different(violent). There, is an old saying that “I can catch more bees with honey than vinegar”, so  I tried very hard to portray myself as being hostile, although I knew I had to be very careful about what I said, how I presented myself because they wanted me to act in a certain manner to you their forceful will by locking me up, imprisoning me, and things of that natural, like stomping you or your front door and questioning you. So those were things you had to overcome, and even though I try hard to do that there were people who felt like just because you were black you were a hoodlum.

J.M.- So do you feel like even though certain places of the country blacks didn’t make the situation better, do you think as a culmination or whole, what people did protest wise, do you think that made a big impact?

Grandfather- I believe that today kids and generation do not understand the struggles their parents and grandparents and civil rights activist have done to get them the right to vote, sit a counters, or to walk in any restaurant. They just do not recognize that, they have not taken the time to learn their history, and quit frankly they just don’t, and the generation today has lost their morals and values.

J.M.- So what do you mean by that do you think it’s taken for granted, or it’s not appreciated as much as it should be?

Grandfather- I don’t think that the young generation doesn't respect the generation of the past, and don't respect one another. They feel that they should look for the easy way out and do not want to work for anything. Or they feel that everything should be given to them, like welfare, and they need to break the cycle. And now violence is a way of life for them, when I was coming up they had games with shooting and stabbing but there was a difference. The media is very privileged aspect, because the media promote negative things, never what kid did good or what kid acceled.

J.M.- It;s like the negatives

Grandfather- Yes the negatives, and to be honest, racism is underground, racism is not something your born with it’s something your taught. If it’s not taught, you have just become biased based off of little experience. If someone tells me they are not prejudice, I raise an eyebrow, because everyone is prejudice. I am you are, if you see someone you don’t particularly care about, then you show a dislike because of the way they act not the way they look. Their are people you don't want to be with because they are not good people but, you might say they small things like I don’t like the way they act or the way they chew(small things).