My Black History: They called us ‘Nigger’

My Black History: They called us ‘Nigger’

Today and throughout February, I am posting brief excerpts from my upcoming memoir, “Coming Full Circle — From Jim Crow to Journalism.”

Growing up in the Jim Crow years in a restrictive, segregated society meant we were not able to go certain places or travel in certain ways like white people did in Savannah. But my village shielded me from many of those legal injustices. I didn’t feel the oppression until I was an older teenager.

We always had cars, or access to cars so I don’t remember riding on segregated buses until my teen years when I  started to venture out with friends to the library or the movies. Even then, someone in my family or a friend’s parent would take us and pick us up. My friends and I went to the Star or the Dunbar theater for Saturday movies, and I recall that we only saw black people there, but it would be a few years later before I noticed that the big theaters downtown were for white people only. As a young child, I didn’t ask questions about places we never went.

Parks were segregated. In our neighborhood on the west side of Savannah, my friends and I ventured a few blocks to Cann Park, a small area in a middle class black neighborhood with playground equipment for the little kids. Later the park became a hangout area in our teen years. If there was ever a place for the girls to take a walk and see where the boys were hanging out, it was in Cann Park. It was a place for the boys to shoot hoops, but that was just about it.

Other places, like Daffin Park were considered “white only” and they had features like tennis courts, sidewalks and a large stadium for baseball games. In the late 1960s, when parks were opened for all races, we still weren’t comfortable venturing outside our own neighborhood. But I do remember my first time in Daffin Park, the one with a water spout in the middle of a small lake. I was walking there with some girlfriends and we encountered a few white boys coming our way. One of the boys called out “Nigger” as we quietly passed them, and one of them spat at us.

I didn’t go back to Daffin Park for at least another 50 years when I attended a Saturday community event. In adulthood I am still not comfortable walking through Daffin Park.

 

 

2 thoughts on “My Black History: They called us ‘Nigger’

  1. Hi Wanda, I’ve received all four of your excerpts, and will read them all together as soon as I get a chance. As I do every February, I’m working on a series of articles for our weekly Bulletin. I just got back from church, and have to work on the one for next weekend. I have to submit them on Tuesdays. I read a portion of the one about your mother, and can’t wait to get back to it. I’ll get back to them later in the week. Hope all is well

    Take care, Ronnie

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    1. Hi, Ronnie. Thanks for your comment. The blog posts are meant to be one story strung together. I planned them as stand-alone brief posts.

      I am trying a new writing strategy to get more blog traffic, as well as tell multiple stories. I set them up timed to post for 28 days at 10 am. Will see how this works.

      Like

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