Raymond Delk

As Interviewed by Alia A, March 15, 2017

Raymond Delk: In His Own Words

Eight or nine probably and by then I had gotten to the point where I could go shopping
downtown and I happened to be riding on a bus and because of these Jim Crow laws if you were black you could only ride in the back of the bus. It didn’t matter whether there was a lot of people in the bus or nobody in the bus you got on and you went in the back and if somebody who was white got on the bus and there was no seat for them you had to get up and let them sit down if you were black, because you weren’t really a person, because of the ways the laws were written, so I was sitting in the back of the bus and there were free seats up front, but this one guy did not want to sit next to an old white lady, so he came in the back and wanted me to get up so that he could sit down and I said there’s a seat up their in the front where you're supposed to sit. He said “No, I want that seat where you're sitting”, so that was the first time that I felt like I needed to fight for my rights, so I wouldn’t get up, but the bus driver at the next stop stopped the bus, told me to get off the bus so I had to get off.

That was the first time that I encountered a situation where I felt I had to fight for my right and it was really fighting for the right to even be discriminated against.

I guess I was a Junior in High School and I had been listening to a lot of things that reverend Dr. Martin Luther King was saying and I decided that I was going to become a part of the silent resistance to the Jim Crow laws, so I guess it was about 1959, 1960. I participated in the sit ins at the lunch counters. A matter of fact I didn’t know it at the time, but I was one of the people that's pictured in one of the pictorial segments of the sit ins in the south. We went through training before we did all of this. We had water thrown on us, we had people spit on us, drag us off of chairs, all that sort of thing to make sure we could do it without fighting back, because that's the one thing that Dr. King did not want us to do, so if you couldn't do that in training you couldn't be a part of this, so I learned how to stifle my personal feelings about what people were doing to me, so that I could participate.

People should look at not what people say but what they do, not what people look like, but what they’re capable of, and spend more time trying to figure out how we can use the best of everybody that is part of our society rather than having a preconceived notion that because of the way you look or how much money you have presupposing that that makes you what you are rather than what you do and how you do it.