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Interview with Rev. Philip Price

Date of Interview: 1 February 1996; Rev. Price's home, Blacksburg, VA
Interviewer: Tamara Kennelly
Transcriber: Cindy Hurd

{ Tape 1, Side 1 - Tape 1, Side 2 - Tape 2, Side 1 - Tape 2, Side 2 }

Begin Side 2

Kennelly: When I've read a little bit about this whole period in books, one thing that's come up there was a textbook that was used in History. I just wondered if by any chance if it was anything that you had noticed. It was The Cavalier. I just wondered if you had any recollection of the way history was taught when you were in school, when you were in high school. If you had any thoughts about how they would approached the teaching of history or of a book they used to teach it for the curriculum? Cavalier Commonwealth was the eleventh grade book they said was a state-prescribed book. I just wondered either if you didn't have any feelings about that, just their general approach to teaching history?

Price: I think that the accomplishments of a lot of the blacks were not in there. It was as if we didn't contribute to America. Or if it was it was a paragraph, a couple of lines or something like that. So many things you were already accustomed to. Looking back now that I can see there wasn't that much in those textbooks concerning blacks and their accomplishments. So it was the white history books.

Kennelly: Anything else you want to add?

Price: No, I'm just glad to see that they're becoming more inclusive.

Kennelly: In the books?

Price: In the books, yeah.

Kennelly: Do you have any feelings about this Million Man March?

Price: It was good that a million men could get together--a million black men. Hopefully it will serve as a basis for them coming back home and getting involved in their communities. Mostly in their homes becoming more and more aware of what they're turning over to the streets and all. I mean their children and all they need to take more interest in.

Kennelly: That's going back to what you were saying a little bit ago about what's happening with young people. And it's involved with what your work is now, not taking advantage or not--what could be there.

Price: That's true. I think that the main thing that we need to remember--that separation of the races is not going to work. It never has, and it never will. Not in America anyway. So to teach hate and bitterness and all those things that the different hate groups stand for, it's something that the decent people, I'll say, will have to stand up against. In other words, everybody's going to have to get involved in making a better world, better community. Because a lot of times we know it's wrong, and we don't say anything. So that makes us part of the wrongs. I thank the Lord for the two years I had at Blacksburg High School. And I think I've learned a lot. Looking back at it, hindsight is always better.

Kennelly: Than when you're going through it.

Prince: I wish I had availed myself more to the teachers that were there and that were available. They were excellent, but being an introvert I just did what I had to do to get out.

Kennelly: To be thrown into without--. You might have been a good candidate for some counseling at that point just to learn how to deal with it like you had to find your own way through it. Not an easy thing to do.

Price: It wasn't. But yeah, thinking about what you said, that would have been a big help. But then I don't know if I would have availed myself of it at the time. But I wouldn't trade it.

Kennelly: Do you have any pictures from that time, of yourself?

Price: I don't know where it is. I have one of my junior year. I don't even know where my yearbook is anymore.

Kennelly: If you could find it, I'd love to able to make a copy of that to have with the interview. There's no photographs for part of Blacksburg's history really. We'd like to have that over at the archives. If could lend us the yearbook, are you in the school yearbook? Did you get your picture taken in the school yearbook?

Price: I think so.

Kennelly: Well we could find a copy of the school yearbook if it's in there. We could make copies and return the original to you is what I'm trying to say.

Price: Okay. Well, I don't know where my yearbook is.

Kennelly: I thought maybe you might have a family picture. (Followed by business discussion of the transcript, pause in tape)

Kennelly: mean the community here.

Price: Blacksburg as a whole, yes.

Kennelly: Because of the type of town it was it was different from what was happening even east of Virginia.

Price: Right. I think with the interaction of the town and the campus and all like that. That flavor probably still holds. That did create a lot of stress for me, the Alabama incident, the Arkansas, and all that. I was expecting something like that, but it didn't happen.

Kennelly: The family that I saw, they had actually three generations--they had their children, the people who'd done it themselves, you know, the kids who'd gone as kids, integrated. Then their mother. They were threatened; their family was threatened. They were sharecroppers, and they were threatened to be kicked off the farm. Their livelihood was threatened. People were driving out at night and shooting guns. It was very terrifying. But I suppose you were hearing those stories at the time.

Price: Or seeing them on television.

Kennelly: That would add to the general stress. I'm not from Virginia, so I'm not actually aware of all of what was happening here as far as how much problems kids were having in the east and the eastern part of the state when they were integrating the schools.

Price: A lot more than what we had here for sure. I think considering the other places, ours was easy. It came off without a hitch. They would have to say it was a success I would have to imagine. They had put a lot of planning into it I think. I'm glad those are the good old days though. That's what I'm worried about. Reverting back to that. Hopefully we don't have to.

Kennelly: Is there something else you wanted to add?

Price: No, I've said enough I think. I wandered.

Kennelly: I don't think so. It's all part of your life.

Price: Oh, what I was going to say. My sister probably has an entirely different view.

Kennelly: Yeah, I'd like to talk to her if she's willing.

Price: I don't know. I don't think so.

Kennelly: You don't think she would be?

Price: No, I don't think she would, but I'll ask her. I'll have her to call you if she is.

Kennelly: OK. Because she just has a different personality you think her experience was different.

Price: Yes. It's just like growing up in a family. No child's perception of the family is going to be the same at any time. Her perception of all the students around her were different so I don't know how she perceived it.

Kennelly: Then did the next child down in you family after your sister, the next youngest child did go ahead and go then?

Price: Yes. My brother under me was the last one to go to Christiansburg Institute. My two sisters and brother went there. And my youngest brother, he did great there. He was even Rex, for homecoming and all.

Kennelly: He was what for homecoming?

Price: You know, when they have a carnival, the king and all--he was the king.

Kennelly: He was the king for homecoming?

Price: I think he was.

Kennelly: How much younger is he than you?

Price: He's about ten years.

Kennelly: So by that time, wow.

Price: He was a basketball player and all. He was great. He was good at that. He made All-State, I think.

Kennelly: He was really a participant in a way that wasn't possible for you.

Price: Well, now he teaches there.

Kennelly: Oh, he does.

Price: He's one of the coaches.

Kennelly: Oh, Mr. Price.

Price: Tommy. Yes. He's up at the Middle School.

Kennelly: I've heard of his name, sure.

Price: So it was entirely different for him and I.

Kennelly: You were the groundbreaker.

Price: It was totally more inclusive then.

Kennelly: More inclusive by the time he got in?

Price: Yeah.

Kennelly: That's a significant span of time too. I really appreciate your talking with me about this. Thank you very much.

Price: Well, you're welcome.

End of Interview

{ Tape 1, Side 1 - Tape 1, Side 2 - Tape 2, Side 1 - Tape 2, Side 2 }

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