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SDOHC: Black History in South Dakota

A selection of Oral History Interviews about Black history in South Dakota, from the South Dakota Oral History Center

Oral history interview with Frances Lofton

Freda Hosen: How many families would you say make up the Sioux Falls black community now?

Frances Lofton: Oh, !-there's so many young couples that come in that I don't know of There's so many new people here - the older people I know, but a lot of the younger people I really don't know how many, --- it may not be right- but I'll say 50 or 60- that number....

FH: And do you consider that to be a growing number?

FL: It's growing now. It was- the black race a lot- was falling off a lot because people were leaving because you couldn't get jobs or housing, and people were leaving, but then when the federal government opened up these laws, they would start sending people in here, and local people started staying, and that opened up more jobs, and it is growing....

FH: Like federal jobs in the post office or army recruiting centers?

FL: Right. It is growing. Before, see, there was no blacks in that, so it's beginning to be a growing community now among the blacks.

Oral history interview with Kyle and Marcene Royster

Robert Eggers: Personally, Kyle , what was your personal feelings in relationship to the development of the Civil Rights movement in the late 50's and the early, in the 60's itself and even into the 70's. Did you feel this had tangible results, was this a healthy thing for American society to go through?

Kyle Royster: Well, at that time I was in my teens . And personally, I felt that the peace movement of the civil rights was getting nowhere. And I was really very, very radical. And you know, I acknowledged groups like the Panthers, SDS , Weathermen, that sort of thing . So....

Oral history interview with Marcene Royster

Marcene Royster: …I had grown up, you know, around white people, and I never really felt good about myself. I thought that I always hat to be skinny and to have long, straight hair, and you know, to be like, and I wasn’t that, and you know, when I got around black kids and they accepted me for what I was whether I was short and fat, you know, what I looked like, if I was a good person those people accepted me, and it made me feel good about myself. And you know, the “black is beautiful” meant everything to me, because you know, that’s just, you could be very ugly and still be beautify as a person, and I think that was good, that really helped me individualize myself and feel good about myself.

Oral history interview with Hazel Mahone

Robert Eggers: Were there any specific black fraternal groups or black religious groups that you were active in, or knew of.

Hazel Mahone: Well, we did have this Bethel A.M.E. church and in the early days it was, it was very important to the way of life of the Negroes in this community~ I think I said it was located over on First and Montana. And much of our education was gained through activities in our young people's group and our church and.what have you. In the early days, I think there was a Masonic lodge for Negroes here in Huron. It wasn't very large,
they were affiliated with the branch out of Omaha. But we have never had many religious or fraternal groups come in and try to organize in the community because there have been too few people to organize with.

Oral history interview with Ted Blakey

Robert Eggers: You've been relatively active in organizing the old fiddler contest that we've had here in Yankton here.

[Tape cuts out]

Ted Blakey: He says I think we could, I may come back from the national for this contest and he says, Ted, I think we ought to start an old fiddler's association here. Uh, we don't have a state, and he says, what do you think about it? And I says well, I said, I'm sure that it would go. And he said well, would you be willing to help me and I said I'd help you in any way I could because I always liked uh, country western music all
my life. And so we just uh, got together and started talking and uh, started talking this thing up and I contacted some people and he did and so we put an ad in the paper that we were gonna have this thing. And uh, it was gonna have it at the 4H grounds and we set up for five hundred people. And I remember a truck driver coming here that morning and he says, how many you set up for? And we said we're expecting five hundred. And he says, we'll where are you gonna put the other thousand? And we said why, we'd never, if we fill these five hundred seats we would be happy. And that fellow was right. We had fourteen hundred people there that night and there was people that stood, older people stood for four hours and stayed there and listened to that. And so this really gave us, this really gave us some you know.

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