Changing Times: Price, Haynes talk about the past, their views on Black History Month

Floyd Price remembers Donald G. Canute.

They served together in the Army during the 1960s. The difference between Price and Canute was their skin color.

“He let me know he didn’t like blacks at all,” remembered Price.

It wasn’t the best of times between the two. One night when both were alone in the barracks, Price talked to Canute.

“Donald, why don’t you like me?” He asked. “Why are we at each other all the time.”

They began to talk.

“He told me some things. I told him some things. He became the best friend I had in my life,” said Price. “We didn’t start out as friends, but what do you think would’ve happened if we didn’t sit down and talk?”

Price said race relations have changed since the 1960s, partly because people of different races decided to communicate. Communication is also the key to the race relations in the future, he said.

Price, a Lubbock City Council member who talked at North Ridge Elementary Tuesday morning, and David Haynes, a Frenship High School graduate, who is now pastor of Christ Temple in east Lubbock, shared their experiences and thoughts on race relations, its past, present and future, as part of Black History Month, which ends today.

Students at the schools studied black history in a variety of ways. Bennett, Crestview, and North Ridge elementary students, for example, highlighted a different black historical figure each morning in February on the school’s TV station.

Students at Willow Bend elementary studied a tabloid printed by The Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.  Bennett Elementary’s online library had a site dedicated to Black History Month.

High school students studied black history during reconstruction. Students, possible future teachers in the high school’s Ready, Set, Teach program used children’s literature to teach black history.

Black history or American history?

While some schools teach Black History Month, Haynes and Price did not like the idea. They favored black history being taught as part of American history.

“History should be a part of everyday life,” said Price. “ … We don’t know where we are going until we know where we came from. There are lots of people who have no idea what the slaves went through.”

Haynes said history should not have a color.

“History should be history. The way we highlight history in society is with prejudice. There’s no other way to put it,” he said. “In my opinion, if we really want to make the United States a melting pot as it has been described, we have to blend our past cultures. You don’t have to divorce yourself from your culture, but we can all embrace each others’ culture without being negative.”

Haynes said the relationship between races is better than it was 30 years ago, but still needs much improvement.

“I know there are so many issues as a country. We talk a good game, but we are in bad shape. I think that is changing for the simple fact that people realize we can do better together than separate.”

Price knows what he would like to see in tomorrow’s world: “My hope for the future is we as Americans come together and work out any problem we have, that we aren’t divisive, that we turn to each other for help. That’s what I hope I live to see.”

Keys to improvement

The foundation to any solution between the races is much like Price’s dealings with Canute — communication. Haynes said communicating is important between groups. He learned the lesson at an early age.

“I think the uniqueness of growing up in Frenship helped me appreciate that relations can be important as a child,” said Haynes. “It (today) helps me guard against prejudice being built up and put on you from the outside. But I and some of the others I grew up with had enough experience to see some of that was ridiculous.”

Also important is education, said Haynes. Education can help create opportunities, he said.

“Education is the key,” said Haynes. “But it must be education without prejudice. It doesn’t matter what color you are, a person is a person.”

Price agreed, adding, “How we get people through (life at the poverty level) is through education. It starts with the lower grades. The first time a kid hits the schoolhouse, the kid needs to be taught academics. Next, the kid needs to be taught how to socialize.”

Family involvement in a child’s social upbringing also is a priority, said Price. “We need to be involved in our children, helping them become teachable and being sociable as part of their upbringing,” he said. “When you go to school, you go to school to learn.”

Price would also like to see churches become more involved in the community.

“The civil rights movement started in the church,” said Price. “The churches need to get involved again.”

Haynes said racism still exists today, but it is not as widespread.

“What I see right now is there are still pockets of prejudice,” he said. “I think it would continue to happen for a long time, and people will continue to embrace it.”

Price sees a more devious form of prejudice taking place today.

“Today, it’s a more subtle thing,” he said. “It’s not like when I was growing up when they said, ‘you can’t come in here.” It’s not so blatant. We’ve got to deal with the subtle forms of it and deal with the people as they function in these different places.”

Price, though, said racism is less of a problem today because people have learned to work together.

“With an African-American and Anglo female running for president, I think people have decided, ‘Hey, let’s work out the problems we have instead of fighting and talking down to each other.’”

Price recalls youth

Price, who grew up in the 1940s and 1950s in Shallowater, recalled his father and uncles being called “boys.”

The slur stuck with him. “You get paranoid,” said Price.

He learned to see past those incidents.

Price said many white people helped African slaves escape through the underground railroad before the Civil War and many walked with Martin Luther King in the 1950s and 1960s.  “Not everyone who is Anglo is out to segregate you. There’s some good people out there,” he said.

Price graduated from Lubbock Dunbar High School in 1959 during a time of segregation and went into the military. He later served as a police officer in Lubbock before retiring. Price has been a member of the Lubbock City Council since 2004.

Haynes recalls Frenship ISD

Haynes graduated from Frenship in 1971, but he didn’t recall any experiences of racism.

The Frenship school district was made up of students with rural and military backgrounds, said Haynes.

“It was interesting in that I was able to interact with children of different cultures and different mind-sets,” he said. “I believe it helped me to get where I am now. I do have an open mind as far as getting along with people.”

Haynes graduated one of a class of 71. He said 10 were black. He said the schools’ size and closeness spurred communication between students, which defused race issues, he said.

“We were isolated, in a sense, from division because our relationships were a whole lot better than (many),” said Haynes. “We had our own issues. Some things we embraced, but other things we were not able to embrace because of our relationships. In my opinion it benefited all of us because we were such a small group. We had a lot of issues going through at the time which were not big enough to pull us away from the relationships we had built over the years.”

Haynes went to work in electronics in Dallas before becoming the pastor at Christ Temple in east Lubbock.

Political changes today

Seeing Barack Obama run a Democratic primary campaign against Hillary Clinton is something Price thought would never happen.

“I never thought in my lifetime there would be a time where you could make a choice between a woman and a man. I didn’t think society would see a woman running as top dog for the president of the United States. Also, the same with the African-American. I see some people are looking to change some things.”

Haynes said many of those supporting Obama were younger voters.

“People are coming out of the woodwork and they are mostly young people between the ages of 18 to 35 or so that have ignored the process, but now see hope in the process and change actually happening,” he said.

Haynes said he was surprised by seeing Obama run. “I had hoped. But you know, realistically, I didn’t expect it this quickly.”

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