Ana Ratner Middle School Interview of Michael Ratner on Civil Rights in the 1960s – PDF

missing2000 Ana Ratner Interviews Michael Ratner on Civil Rights

Ana Interviews Her Dad

Ana: Did you go to any Civil Rights marches?

Dad: Yes. In the 1960s I went to a Civil Rights walk in Alabama to protest a murder by the KKK. It was very scary.

Ana: Why was it scary?

Dad: We marched in the streets. On the sidewalk were people from the KKK and they screamed things at us.

Ana: What sorts of things did they scream at you?

Dad: They yelled things like curse words and go home!

Ana: Did you experience Black segregation when they let only whites on the front of the bus and blacks in the back?

Dad: No, not with the bus because I lived in the North.

Ana: Did you experience any other kind of segregation?

Dad: Yes. My Dad’s own company had cement mixers and dump trucks. Dump trucks had a lower paying job than cement mixers and the government even though it was my dad’s company, made him put Blacks on dump trucks and whites on cement mixers and he could not do anything about it.

Ana: Where you alive when Martin Luther King was?

Dad: Yes. When he was shot I was 25 years old.

Ana: What were you doing when he was shot?

Dad: I was working in Baltimore for the N.A.A.C.P., the organization that helps darker skinned people desegregate the schools. I was in my hotel room watching television at night and it was announced he had been shot.

Ana: What happened when he was shot? What did people do?

Dad: Blacks in particular had riots all over the country, and in Alabama. Buildings were burnt down. I could not leave the hotel for two nights.

Ana: What did you do in the hotel those two nights?

Dad: Well I could not get out because there were tanks around to stop the riot.

Ana: What did you eat while you were in the hotel?

Dad: Well I ate peanut butter crackers. It was horrible. They did not have a restaurant or room service, so I ate from a vending machine.

Ana: Did the tanks stop the riot?

Dad: Yes, after a couple of days.

Ana: Did you know Rosa Parks, like see her on TV?

Dad: I’m sure I did but I don’t remember that.

Ana: Did you know Malcolm X at the time?

Dad: Yes. I actually went to his speech. He also came to speak at my college.

Ana: What kinds of things did he say?

Dad: Oh my God, he talked about how Blacks had a wonderful history, like how they built Pyramids in Egypt.

Ana: What was different about him and Dr. King?

Dad: Well, he talked about being proud if you are Black. He was a Black Power person. He believed more than Dr. King that Black people should work on their own.

Ana: How come all the most famous people for Civil Rights in this case were Black?

Dad: What do you think?

Ana: Well I think that is because the Blacks were being discriminated against so they knew how it felt and say if they went to the front of the bus they would be arrested. But if a white went to the back of the bus, they wouldn’t be arrested. They knew how it felt so they could tell people how it felt.