Martrina Morrow

Interviewed by Monica Palmeira on April 9, 2012
This interview provides discussion of food, especially the process of getting food, and the amount of food you could buy. Furthermore, Morrow describes the change in money changes to affect how much food you can buy. She also demonstrates how money affects traditions. Her area had no farmers market to get healthier options. Thus, she talks about the importance of gardens. Aside from food, she discusses the importance of hospitality, the spirit of giving, and the willingness to give. She recalls her memories of the 1960’s and 1970’s especially as it relates to work ethic and low wages. She recalls having a nearby food store called Betty’s grocery. She goes on to share her personal stance on people not giving as much as they used to and her experience of giving clothes to goodwill. There is no tax right off. She holds the stance of not giving to thrift shop based on newness of clothes. She continues on to share her experience of having loving parents. This way she had lessons learned from parents on love and discipline. She believes that kids today are aggressive. She recalls her experience of disobeying mother to see the movie The Ten Commandments, and how she has an appreciation for her mother. Her mother taught her what a family should be. Since she was one of eight children, she had different experiences with siblings. She remembers eating lunch at sister’s house and attending Northside elementary. Because of this, she shares her opinion on the new elementary school. She stresses the importance of protest or protest as a part of her life. She shares an account of the HKLJ march in Raleigh and her experience with Hells Angles. She had cousins murdered by Hell’s Angels, and there was protesting around the country. She recalls her experience with Rebecca Clark. Her love of justice, and passion for marching came to topic. She talks about her experience about Historic Thousands on Jones Street march. There was a murder of the owner of Crooks Corner. She sees Chapel Hill as a beautiful place to live, but the murder rocked community. Safety is now harder to come by. She recalls her experience with segregation at an Ice House, bus segregation. The interview concludes with discussion of her favorite places to eat, a historical comparison of food, government regulations, and changes in the food industry.

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Title

Martrina Morrow

Description

This interview provides discussion of food, especially the process of getting food, and the amount of food you could buy. Furthermore, Morrow describes the change in money changes to affect how much food you can buy. She also demonstrates how money affects traditions. Her area had no farmers market to get healthier options. Thus, she talks about the importance of gardens. Aside from food, she discusses the importance of hospitality, the spirit of giving, and the willingness to give. She recalls her memories of the 1960’s and 1970’s especially as it relates to work ethic and low wages. She recalls having a nearby food store called Betty’s grocery. She goes on to share her personal stance on people not giving as much as they used to and her experience of giving clothes to goodwill. There is no tax right off. She holds the stance of not giving to thrift shop based on newness of clothes. She continues on to share her experience of having loving parents. This way she had lessons learned from parents on love and discipline. She believes that kids today are aggressive. She recalls her experience of disobeying mother to see the movie The Ten Commandments, and how she has an appreciation for her mother. Her mother taught her what a family should be. Since she was one of eight children, she had different experiences with siblings. She remembers eating lunch at sister’s house and attending Northside elementary. Because of this, she shares her opinion on the new elementary school. She stresses the importance of protest or protest as a part of her life. She shares an account of the HKLJ march in Raleigh and her experience with Hells Angles. She had cousins murdered by Hell’s Angels, and there was protesting around the country. She recalls her experience with Rebecca Clark. Her love of justice, and passion for marching came to topic. She talks about her experience about Historic Thousands on Jones Street march. There was a murder of the owner of Crooks Corner. She sees Chapel Hill as a beautiful place to live, but the murder rocked community. Safety is now harder to come by. She recalls her experience with segregation at an Ice House, bus segregation. The interview concludes with discussion of her favorite places to eat, a historical comparison of food, government regulations, and changes in the food industry.

Subject

Morrow, Martrina

Type

Oral History

Creator

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Publisher

Marian Cheek Jackson Center

Date

2012-04-09

Rights

Open for research.

Format

MP3 (192000 bitrate)

Language

English

Identifier

APAT_0119

Oral History Item Type Metadata

Interviewer

Monica Palmeira

Interviewee

Matrina Morrow

Interview Date

2012-04-09

Location

Ms. Morrow's home at 109 Starlite Drive, Chapel Hill, NC

Transcription

TRANSCRIPT: MATRINA MORROW Interviewee: MP Monica Palmera Interviewer: MM Matrina Morrow Date: April 10th 2012 Location: Morrow’s Home Length: 1:43:50 Interview: Carey Kauffman, Basirul Haque, and Jayson Williams, Cherice Washington [START 11:20] MM: When people got better educated they got better jobs, they didn't get that until about the 70’s because of no white people would hire that many blacks to do jobs, you know, unless it was emptying the bedpans or cleaning the babies or whatever, but, as soon as they started to get more pay, they started to change. They started to leave the thing that should have been so important to them because they knew how their parents had to come up if, even if they didn't have to go through that, they knew how their parents had to go through it. And if they had kept those traditions up, you wouldn't see all of the crimes in the street. Because, number one, we loved our children, that was the only thing we really had to give them was love. And two, the children loved their parents, you know. You didn't hear a tale of children killing their parents, you didn't hear a tale of children disrespecting their parents. All my momma and daddy did was-- I will take that back, all my momma had to do was look at us and we knew what the deal was, but my daddy, my daddy had a planned spirit. I mean he'd come home and we never figured him to be tired, but he would play with us, you know he would boss us, and there were not but two girls in the house. He taught my sister how to cook bread, but he never taught me anything. Oh he could cook, he could really cook. But he never taught me how to cook. Anyway, he would come home, he would play with us like he was one of us. He used to tell us, you know, we about to get this house cleaned up. Your momma gonna come home, her lips hanging out between her legs, and, we were standing there watching him clean up. While we just be standing there looking, he never said you better do this or you better do that. We just stood there. Children today, they are so much more aggressive, you know. They don't care about anybody, and it is so sad, it is so sad. I said if the parents had been brought up in the day that I was brought up, they would know how they could play with their children. When it comes down to discipline, its no time for play now. They would understand that, but now they don't. They’re going to do what they going to do. Even if it hurts the parents, but we couldn't do that. We couldn't do it. [END 14:38] [START 21:15] MP: Where were you living, where was your family housed, on what street? MM: On South Graham, right there where the funeral home is now. MP: Gotcha. MM: Yeah, and we had to walk all the way to Northside. MP: That’s a pretty far of a long way as a kid. MM: And it was and we had to go to school in the snow, it wasn’t no such thing as you didn’t go to school when it snowed. MP: [Hm] MM: We had to go to school when it snowed, yeah shoot my brother, my next to oldest brothers last years was the years I started school and he used to make us walk and keep up with him. MP: Was he fast? [Laughter] MM: Yeah, and he was, he was, about 6, he was about 6”6, I guess. MP: Oh my goodness. MM: Yeah, he had the longest strides. Good gracious. MP: You had to go two steps for every stride. MM: Long ones and he would tell us, “no, no, no come on here, you gone keep up with me”. MP: Yeah. MM: ‘We not gonna be late, we can’t be late, come on, come on, come on, come on.” Yeah, we had to run to keep up with him, and he ran all the way from Brown street to Northside up those hills. It was real hilly then. MP: Yeah, yeah. MM: And we had to do it anyway, shoot. Snow on the ground at the drop of the creek down there where Caldwell Street, right here on the first end of Caldwell. MM: Ohh yeah MM: If you look over to your left when you going there still that creek there but they covered up and made that road up through there. We used to have to jump it and they was about as about as wide as this table and— MP: You’re small, that’s pretty… MM: Yeah, there were rocks there that we could walk on, but when it was snowing you couldn’t walk on rocks because they were too slippery. [Monica- yeah] MM: My brother sometimes would find planks and put them across there for us to walk on, but I tell you, shoot! MP: I think they’re hoping with the new elementary school that students can walk there but, there aren’t any little ones in the neighborhood to. MM: You know the thing about that school, I’m sort of worried about that school. Because number one, to me they’re trying to get the black kids back segregated. I truly believe that. Have you seen any white kids in this area? MP: Definitely not. MM: So who do you think is going on there? MP: Black children, yeah. MM: It’s going to be just, it’s going to be predominantly black, just like it was before. MP: Yeah. MM: And if that’s the case now you talking about someone who loves to protest. Man, that was my hobby, yes. MP: Really what kind of things were you involved in? MM: Everything. If anybody said let’s protest. The only thing I haven’t been in is that movement they got going on now. MP: Occupy? MM: Yeah, that was the only reason I didn’t get involved in that was because number one I got the baby MP: Uh huh. MM: But, that was -- that they had over in Raleigh about two months ago. MP: HJ OnK?, I was there. [END 24:29] [START 26:25] MM: You know this lady, this black lady, said that she was involved in the civil rights. I said to her, I said, I've never seen you there. “Oh I was working behind the scenes.” I asked her- I said “well, how can you work behind the scene, when everything was exposed?” MP: Yeah MM: I mean tell me what you were doing because that’s bothering to me. Doctor Gillmore, she got so angry with me because I said that she was not in the civil rights. I don't care who gets angry with me. If they were not there; its just like that lady that they're getting ready to do this documentary on, they said that she was at the World Trade Center and come to find out she wasn't even there, in New York. This was what Rebecca Parks had done, you know? I know she’s dead and gone on now, but I had the chance to ask her just where were you during those days. I knew I got spat on, I know I got kicked, I know a lot of things were happening, but I don't remember ever seeing her there. I'm not going to say that she wasn't there because number one there were so many people there at that particular time. But even so, what were you doing that particular time? You cannot work 'behind the scenes'. What are you doing, cooking for the people or bringing out the water for the people or what are you doing? You know, I would like to know that. And to this day, I still don't, she's dead and gone on so I know she's not going to tell me. MP: Yeah, well that's a mystery. MM: It is, you can't work behind no scenes on something like this. Unless you were hiding from it; that'd be the only way that you could do it. She wasn't doing that, she wasn't doing- she just jumped in on the bandwagon. Yeah I remember seeing a lot of people, but I don't remember seeing her. MP: Wow, that's- that's really interesting. [END 28:58] [START MM:SS] Beginning of Segment: 40:01 MM: I like justice. Justice for all, not a few, you know. MP: Absolutely. MM: Because, you have to have come through the time that I did to understand what I’m talking about. [END 40:15] [START 44:40] MP: Going back to you talking about enjoying demonstrations and protests, where do you think that - this is not about food, but I don’t care because I’m really interested what you have to say - where do you think your passion for justice came from? Do you feel that there was, a particular event in your life that led you to, to be really driven towards acting towards justice? Or, do you feel like it was just something innate in you? MM: I think It was just instilled in me because, number one, like I said, we were limited as to where we could go to eat. We were limited as to what water fountains, what bathrooms, everything, you know. It was -- we were so segregated and I could never figure this one out and I wish somebody would tell me before I die: How in the name of God can you let me take care of your child, watch that child, you know, tend to that child, fix lunch for that child, and couldn’t eat in your house? I wish somebody would tell me that. I mean, I thought about that for so long. [END: 45:50] [START 51:48] MM: I told him, I said, you know, we were at quilting class one day and this lady started singing Swing Low Sweet Chariot. And I asked her, I said ma’am, I said why in the world would you sing this song? She said, oh we sing it in our church. But I said, do you know what you’re singing? She said, We want the chariot to take us home. I said, do you know what you’re singing? She said what is it that we are supposed to know? I said, when they made that song, the black Africans wanted to go home. I said, they sung it because that’s where their heart was. And when they got the underground railroad, I said, they were letting you know that you got an opportunity to go if you want to. I said, they, it didn’t have nothing to do with going home to heaven, they were talking about going home to Africa. MP: Wow. MM: They wanted that chariot to come and take them to Africa. And so, when we started making the movie, I said now, you have to have somebody coming up out of the field. And you got to make sure that they’re stomping. You’re stomping. You’re stomping. And used to be, I don’t know, they don’t do it as much now at the altar, when they go up for prayer, they don’t do it as much as they used to. But even when we were coming along as children. [Morrow stomps]. MP: Stomping. MM: That’s what you would hear. With their feet and their swaying. You know why? Because they had slipped off to pray. They had left the master and went down in the valley to pray. I know you’ve heard “Way down yonder in Sorrow Valley couldn’t hear nobody pray.” What they did, they were doing this to make them think that they working. And-and-and, they won’t hear this preacher praying. MP: Mhm. MM: And so, that next morning, the watchmen would sing: Way down yonder in Sorrow Valley I couldn’t hear nobody pray. That mean that he didn’t hear them, that means the master didn’t hear them. So, you know, everything was done in code back in the day and I loved it because, I said people say black people can’t think, they’re lazy, they’re this, they’re that, and they’re the other. I always tell them, they have to be some of the smartest people on the face of this earth because: number one, they took all of these back people out of different tribes with different languages, and they communicated. MP: Mhm. MM: They didn’t have to have an interpreter. They couldn’t have an interpreter because that master would not let them even get close enough to bond with each other for a long time. So, therefore, I just love it when I think that we have outsmarted them in some kind of way. It does not matter if we could not really use it for that, but at least we know it. We were in a museum down there on Franklin Street one day, and there was a statue. The statue was made like this, [gestures to interviewer], but it was about this big around and they had little bitty miniature men and everyone of them with a face outward, tied together. They had castrated every one of those men and I said to the lady there, she thought I had lost my mind, I said, you know, I can understand why they castrated these men. And she said why do you think they castrated them? Because they’re baby makers and anytime you get more babies than you’ve got of your own. You know there’s going to be a war somewhere, don’t you? There’s going to be some conflict somewhere. And she said, you think so? And I said, yeah, I do, why else would they castrate them? [END 56:48]

Duration

1:43:50

Citation

Marian Cheek Jackson Center, “Martrina Morrow,” Marian Cheek Jackson Center Oral History Trust, accessed July 11, 2020, https://archives.jacksoncenter.info/APAT/APAT_0119.