A satirical essay by Harry Golden
The Vertical Negro Plan
…One of the factors involved in [North Carolina’s] tremendous industrial growth and economic prosperity is the fact that the South, voluntarily, has all but eliminated VERTICAL SEGREGATION. The tremendous buying power of the twelve million Negroes in the South has been based wholly on the absence of racial segregation. The white and Negro stand at the same grocery and supermarket counters; deposit money at the same bank teller’s window; pay phone and light bills to the same clerk; walk through the same dime and department stores, and stand at the same drugstore counters.
It is only when the Negro “sets” that the fur begins to fly.
Now, since we are not even thinking about restoring VERTICAL SEGREGATION, I think my plan would not only comply with the Supreme Court decision, but would maintain “sitting-down” segregation. Now here is the GOLDEN VERTICAL NEGRO PLAN. Instead of all those complicated proposals, all the next [state Legislature] session needs to do is pass one small amendment which would provide only desks in all the public schools of our state — no seats.
The desks should be those standing-up jobs, like the old fashioned bookkeeping desk. Since no one in the South pays the slightest attention to a VERTICAL NEGRO, this will completely solve our problem. And it is not such a terrible inconvenience for young people to stand up during their classroom studies. In fact, this may be a blessing in disguise. They are not learning to read sitting down, anyway; maybe standing up will help. This will save more millions of dollars in the cost of our remedial English course when the kids enter college. In whatever direction you look with the GOLDEN VERTICAL NEGRO PLAN, you save millions of dollars, to say nothing of eliminating forever any danger to our public education system upon which rests the destiny, hopes, and happiness of this society.
- Review: Who wrote this essay? When? For what purpose and what audience?
- Summarize: What is the problem that Harry Golden wants to help "solve"? What is Golden's "solution"?
- On what does Golden base his "solution"? What disparity is he pointing out? Do you think Southerners were aware of this disparity?
- Based on Golden's essay, how do you think he feels about segregation? What point do you think he is trying to make?
- Why do you think Harry Golden chose to present his views on segregation satirically and not in a more direct essay or article? How, if at all, was your reaction different to his essay than to the other texts we read?
- How do you think Golden's essay might have changed him and/or his world?