Born in Lewisburg, Larry went to Bolling High School until integration. He played football during high school and later enlisted in the military. Larry joined the NAACP in the 1980s and became the president around a decade later.
Ku Klux Klan
Larry: Actually I know the grand dragon worked at the Greenbrier for years. No. no it was supposedly a big secret but everyone knew. Or I know all the blacks knew. Yeah. And as far as the activity around here you know there was no wearing of suits and hoods and stuff like that per say. Even though there was a-they had a couple of marches here or gatherings here.
One was down in Alderson and one was down in Monroe county over at union. And I thought it was interesting when we went to the gathering over at union. I thought that- I really had concerns taking my children and I didn’t take them. And to this day I really regret that because I thought that the experience of seeing this group come into a town well it was completely different from what-I thought that they would receive a welcome over there especially in Monroe county.
It completely changed my idea of the people there and that’s what I guess the preconceived notion of what people feel and think it really changed my mind and got me to thinking because when I went there when the Klan came into union, the streets were lined with people and there were quite a few black people but the fact that the white people took it onto themselves to make them feel so unwelcome it just made us feel extremely inclusive so from that point on I guess it changed my thinking of people in Monroe county because I’ve always had a different respect so to speak because of how they made them how unwelcome they made them feel and the fact that they weren’t going to tolerate having this in their area not on an open basis anyways and there were some over that welcomed them there but a small small group as opposed to this whole streets that were aligned against them.
Larry: as far as integration went from Bolling to Lewisburg. You know that-I think the first few years there was a lot of (chuckles) getting used to the idea of coming together. I can remember that there was demonstrations and altercations.
Larry: I think I took over as president over in the 90s I think it was around 96 something like that.
Sarah: and what kind of things did the NAACP do around here?
Larry: well there were discrimination cases. A lot of those. A lot that people don’t even hear about until you are actually. There were things that went on in the NAACP back then that I had no idea about that was occurring because the local branch well I’m not going to say was a file of secrecy but you know when someone issues a complaint its not advertised in the paper like we are investigating a school system because of this or that. But I personally can say that I was amazed about the number of cases that came before us when I was president. And it made me sort of cringe when I thought that I took a lot of it for granted not knowing the severity of the race issue here in Greenbrier County.
Sarah: what was your personal motivation for join in 1980?
Larry: the need to the need-well knowing that a change needed to be made and be willing to stand up and say I’m for change and I’m willing to do what’s necessary to get this change to come about. Get people to talk anyway.
Larry: some of the hazards of being part of the NAACP is that you are really harassed. This is a picture of my vehicle. My tires were flattened and scratch marks were all on my car. My niece got this letter in her mailbox so there was a lot of intimidation going on. We continue to punch forward on these different cases.
Growing up it was it’s a wonderful community. You know I love Lewisburg but there were things that went on in the 60s you know there were still the separate-but-equal facilities here and one of the big things that I remember coming up is when I was playing football I would tell this a lot that I we loved to come down to the Court restaurant after the football games because my mother-in-law and several other blacks were cooks there and when I say we loved it our white friends we were tight on the football team it seemed like when you came off the football field you go your separate ways but we were tight as far as players go but the thing that hurt me and I bet most blacks is that when we get to the court restaurant we were allowed to go through the front door with our friends. You know we had to go around to the back door even though our parents and friends mother-in-laws were cooks there that’s that’s something that has weighed on my mind for years. You know?
I guess that’s what got me into the NAACP is that kind of injustices and going to the Lewisburg theatre we weren’t allowed to sit downstairs we always had to sit up in the balcony. And there were many many things that belittered you as a race of people here even though it’s a place that I love even after going to the military my earning was to come back here to live knowing that there were issues here.