Margaret Van De Graaf

As Interviewed by Chloe Van De Graaf, March 18, 2019

Margaret Van De Graaf: In Her Own Words

My grandmother, Margaret Van De Graaf, was raised in the 1930s and 40s in Bushnell, Florida. My grandmother witnessed racial segregation growing up and Blacks being treated as second class citizens.

When we would go to the drive-in, the little restaurants, you parked in the parking lot and you went and ordered hamburgers. There were two windows. One was for the Whites and one was for the Blacks.

Another thing -- I hated, I thought it was so bad. When we would go to the drug store, they would be people maybe in line getting a ice cream cone or something like that. If there were Blacks in line or waiting to order their ice cream, they would step aside for the White people to order theirs. I hated that, but that was the custom. A lot of people just accepted it. You didn’t think anything about it. I didn’t like it, but that was accepted.

My grandma was about 9 or 10 years old when she saw the Ku Klux Klan driving by her house. My 88 year-old grandma remembers seeing the KKK through her young, innocent eyes.

Cars go by with people hanging on to the running board -- You don't see them on cars anymore. There was a platform and you could put your arm around where the window was and you could stand on the running board. There would be maybe four people on the outside hanging on to the doors. And they were dressed in white. And they had the hats, the pointed hats. I don’t know where they were going, but I do know that was the Klan. I didn’t know what they did at the time. I knew they went by in the cars. It was like a parade. We lived a mile out of town. They were going toward town. I don’t know what they found in town.

We did see them. I was fascinated by it! It was like a parade. Being so young, maybe ten, nine or ten, I really didn't know too much about it. It was just something exciting! We saw the Ku Klux Klan going by in a car! And all this people were hanging on to the cars...