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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Charles and Dorcas Jones protect the Freedom Riders in Chapel Hill

Jones describes how he and his wife provided transportation and shelter to the Freedom Riders in 1947. A group of cab drivers threatened violence against Jones and the Freedom Riders. UNC students and police supported him by helping to get the activists out of jail and protecting the Jones family home while the activists stayed there.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, July 21, 1990. Interview A-0335. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

JOHN EGERTON:
Getting back to that incident in '47. Would you mind talking to me a little bit about that, how that all came up and how you happened to get involved in that?
CHARLES M. JONES:
In which?
JOHN EGERTON:
Bayard Ruskin and the guys on the bus?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah. They wrote me, didn't they? The Fellowship Breakfast?
DORCAS JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh, I know who you're going to say, Roger Baldwin?
CHARLES M. JONES:
No, I knew Roger. A.J. Muste. A.J. was a peaceful fellow and a scholar too. But the real person that——I guess it was Bayard and two or three other fellows.
JOHN EGERTON:
There were two whites and one other black person and Bayard Ruskin.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Nelson was the black fellow's name.
DORCAS JONES:
Jim Farmer was one of them.
CHARLES M. JONES:
And Jim Farmer. He is now blind and, I think, president of a black college in Virginia.
JOHN EGERTON:
Oh, James Farmer is? Is that right?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Unless he changed within the last year or two. He was a great guy. We had, oh, many black friends.
DORCAS JONES:
They came to Chapel Hill. They'd had trouble in Durham, and they came over here.
JOHN EGERTON:
Riding on a Greyhound or an Interstate bus.
DORCAS JONES:
And they had breakfast or lunch or something with us, and they were going on to Greensboro, is that right?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yes. Some of them were, and some of them were going to South Carolina.
DORCAS JONES:
They had trouble at the bus station, didn't they?
JOHN EGERTON:
And that's when they got arrested?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Right.
DORCAS JONES:
They were going to take them, I don't know whether I can remember it, they were going to take them off the bus, and the cab drivers were right across the street. Somebody heard remarks about them, and so Charles' assistanttelephone. Charles went down and got them in his car to bring them back up to our house .
JOHN EGERTON:
This is before any arrest had taken place?
DORCAS JONES:
I think so, wasn't it?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
You brought them back to your house?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh yeah.
JOHN EGERTON:
Did you live here then?
DORCAS JONES:
Lived on Franklin Street in the Presbyterian manse.
JOHN EGERTON:
And you took them there, and then what happened?
DORCAS JONES:
Well, I don't remember it very well. But the cab drivers tried to follow you, and you got there first, and y'all came in the house. The cab drivers were sort of threatening. They stopped out in front of the house. Charles called the police. Had to call them a number of times before they'd come.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh, there's something else, Dorcas. There was a bunch of students who heard about it.
DORCAS JONES:
Well, yeah, but that was later. Then the police finally did come and help escort you out of the county and far enough to get them so they could, somebody was going to meet them and take them to Greensboro. Anyway, I don't remember. They got arrested in Chapel Hill. Do you remember?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, when they got arrested in Chapel Hill, the officers were .
DORCAS JONES:
Did those people riding the bus, then get arrested here?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Yeah, and they turned them loose because we .
DORCAS JONES:
Well then, maybe they arrested them first.
JOHN EGERTON:
Yeah. You got them out of jail.
CHARLES M. JONES:
Got them out of jail. We had one friend on the police force, a fellow named Blake. He later became the Chief of Police.
JOHN EGERTON:
What about the students, were they on your side?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Oh my God, yeah. Yeah, they came, and they brought some weapons.