Search transcripts:    Advanced Search
Notable New     Yorkers
Select     Notable New Yorker

Kenneth ClarkKenneth Clark
Photo Gallery

Session:         Page of 763

Well, anyway, with all this-- these were the personal things. The other thing was that my mother, to this day, and she's 81 now, felt strongly that opportunity for educational and economic advancement was better in the United States than it ever could be in Panama or any of the West Indian islands.

We sometimes have arguments about this-- although basically, I know she's right, and her own life supports her contention that America provides even blacks with a greater opportunity for upward mobility than any other nation in the world. And she's not conservative. I think that basically she's realistic, although I've argued with her about this -- but half-heartedly, because there is no question that her life validated her belief, and that my father's rigidity was all right for him, but did not fit what she had in mind, in terms of the future of her children.

I think she was primarily concerned with her children, in making that move. And I'm personally very glad she did.

Let me tell you why I said that, among other things. In my correspondence with my father, I have a strong feeling that if I were in day to day contact with him, my life would have been quite different, because I have every reason to believe that he was a very arrogant, egocentric, person. It would have been a struggle to maintain my own identity and, you know, development and pursuit of my goals as an individual human being, I think, if I were required to be in a day to day interaction with him, as I knew him through correspondence and as I remember him, when I saw him; when I was about eight or nine, I saw him in Jamaica. My sister and I spent a year in Jamaica, and he came to visit with us. And even as a nine year old, -- and I was very glad to

© 2006 Columbia University Libraries | Oral History Research Office | Rights and Permissions | Help