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1 Otis R. Anthony Af rican Americans in Florida OHP Oral History Program Florida Studies Center University of South Florida, Tampa Library DOI: A31 00024 Interviewee: Mrs. Sylvia Gri an ( S G) Interview by: Otis Anthony (OA) Interview date: May 7, 1979 Interview location: Unknown Transcribed by: Unknown Transcription date: Unknown Interview changes by: Kimberly Nordon Changes date: December 16, 2008 Final Edit by: Arlen Bensen Final Edit date: July 29, 2009 Mrs. Sylvia Grian : ...our p rejudices must cease for they are the stumbling blocks in the path of our dem ocracy. As Robert C. Jones has s aid, "While the members of any group are not accorded equal opportunities as others about them, to make a living, to be assured an education, an d t o be able to enjoy the better prerogatives that our society offers because of the difference in color of skin or other physical characteristics we cannot say that we are genuinely and completely democratic." Otis Anthony : That's right. SG : And Robert C. Jones said that. Pray this is a bad habit. It's a ha bit. You know? You're gonna y ou're not born with it. OA : Hmmm. S G : It is extremely difficult to overcome but with effort it can be accomplished. In my estimation, slavery was abolished because the Union was in peril. It was thought best to abolish this institution to save the Union, not withstanding the serious consequences to the southern states. How can th e negro fail to un derstand that the feelings the w hite southerner harbors against you is not because his color, the abolition of slavery meant to the whites in the south impoverishment and degradation and they associated their adverse circumstances with th e negro. OA : That's right. S G: It wasn't because they hated us. This took too much away from them. The grandeur. The colonial
2 OA: Umm hmm he palatial SG: was gone OA: plantations. SG: and they blamed the blacks. Perhaps in the future the necessi ty to save a democracy will require that the practices of discrimination be abolished. How can a democracy survive if it permits undemocratic principals? Let us hope that contrary to the ill effects that the abolishment of slavery engendered the abolishm ent of discriminatory and segregation practice may not bring rancor, hatred, and persistent ill feeling. Let us hope that with every change in our economic, political, and social thinking there may also be a change of heart that will permit us to cease tra nsmitting our prejudices to our children. Let us try to educate them in the practice of tolerance and understanding. Perhaps to learn to accept individuals of a different race and to recognize that because a nation, racial group, or individual is different it does not follow that he is inferior. OA : There you go. SG : To my fellow Cubans an d Americans in Tampa I say, if I 'm talking to the Cubans now, black Cubans if we repudiate racial prejudice in members of the white group how dare we practice it among ourselves? OA : Umm hmm. S G: It is not hard for the two negro groups to understand each other and perhaps a solution to the problem can be affected with certain action as follows: more Spanish and Latin American history should be taught in our schools. Every Cuban knows your constitution. This land of ours doesn't teach anything but American history and European history. Nobody knows anything about Cuba. But Cuba knows everything about America. OA : There you go. SG: All right. N ow, all that's off the r ecord, now some of this, you know m ore Spanish and Latin American history should be taught in our schools. American Negro history should be included in the school's curriculum. Now this i s what, how man y years ago? OA: Hm hm hm S G: And we got it now. OA : 1950 They got it now. They even have this pamphlet in all the schools. SG : Really? That's good.
3 OA : All the schools. S G: The negro newspaper should have a section in Spanish and English devoted to Latin American news and local Cuban news. OA : Umm h mm. SG: The negroes of the or upper social strata should let down the social barriers to where the Cuban negroes. Now, some of these things you can't grasp unless you have a college degree. Now that's stupid. You can be intelligent as the day is long OA : There you go. S G: speak the king's English, a nd they have a lot of money y ou don't know what these people do. OA : Yeah. S G: Negroes of the upper social strata should let down t he social barriers to where the Cuban negroes and the Cuban negro club should open its membership to many worth American negroes. It works both ways. OA : Umm hmm. S G: At one time they didn't accept American negroes. Now I think they do. OA : Okay. S G: Cuban negro children should attend the public elementary school so they might associate with a greater number of colored Americans. At that time we didn't say "black" we said "colored remember? OA : Umm hmm. S G: Cuban me n and women should try to obtain membership in American social and civic clubs about the City. Cuban child ren should be encouraged to belong to youth organizations such as Girl and Boy Scouts and YWCA. They didn't at that time. Many suggestions could be obtained for the problem of better integration of th e Cuban and the American negro I'm talking about negro n ow the solution of which is unity unity, so in this merging of spiritual and eternal bonds a new negro may come forth. OA : (inaudible) are six? S G: No that's it.
4 OA : Okay. End of interview