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Title: Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Foreman, Clark, interviewee
Interview conducted by Hall, Jacquelyn Finger, William
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Mike Millner
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2006
Size of electronic edition: 332 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2006.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2006-00-00, Celine Noel and Wanda Gunther revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2006-07-20, Mike Millner finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of sound recording: Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0003)
Author: Jacquelyn Hall and William Finger
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974. Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series B. Individual Biographies. Southern Oral History Program Collection (B-0003)
Author: Clark Foreman
Description: 541 Mb
Description: 94 p.
Note: Interview conducted on November 16, 1974, by Jacquelyn Hall and William Finger; recorded in Atlanta, Georgia.
Note: Transcribed by Linda Killen.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series B. Individual Biographies, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with Clark Foreman, November 16, 1974.
Interview B-0003. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Foreman, Clark, interviewee


Interview Participants

    CLARK FOREMAN, interviewee
    MAIRI FOREMAN, interviewee
    JACQUELYN HALL, interviewer
    WILLIAM FINGER, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
WILLIAM FINGER
This is an interview with Mr. Clark Foreman in Atlanta, Georgia, on November 16, 1974, conducted by Jacquelyn Hall and Bill Finger for the Southern Oral History Program at the University of North Carolina. We want to maybe do a couple of interviews. One today and maybe on Tuesday so we won't go on too long and get you too tired. Maybe today we can talk about your early years in Georgia, your work with the CIC and on up to the Southern Conference. Cover your later years on Tuesday. That sound okay?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That's seventy-two of them to cover.
WILLIAM FINGER
Well, let's start in 1902. You were born in Georgia?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Born right here in Atlanta, just a few blocks from the Biltmore.
WILLIAM FINGER
Was your Atlanta background important to you in your early years? The influence of your grandfather?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I don't remember it except what I've heard. My grandfather was the founder and publisher of the Atlanta Constitution. My

Page 2
grandfather on my mother's side. My grandfather on my father's side was a farmer in Washington, Georgia.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's Clark Howell, right?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, Evan [unknown] Howell was my grandfather. His son was Clark Howell. My mother's brother. For whom I was named.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you grew up in Atlanta and went to the University of Georgia.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I grew up in Atlanta and I went to the public schools of Atlanta and then to the University of Georgia.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there an expectation that you would go into the Atlanta Constitution?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. My oldest brother was the one who was interested in writing and he had ideas of going into that field, but I never did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When did you go to college?
CLARK FOREMAN:
In 1916. Wait a minute. I guess it was 1917.
WILLIAM FINGER
You were pretty young, then.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. I graduated when I was 19 in 1921. See, I was born in 1902.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was your experience at the University of Georgia like?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I guess it was a pretty ordinary experience at college. I took a regular liberal arts course, so to speak. Latin, Greek and so forth. Very little science. No economics. But the most important thing that happened to me at the University of Georgia was that in my second year there one morning at the Chi Phi chapter house where I was living—Chi Phi fraternity—I came down for breakfast. There was a lot of talk about a rape that occurred outside of the town of Athens. Where they said that some Negro man had raped a pregnant white girl and then killed her. Well, all day long on the campus there was talk about this going on. And that afternoon I went up to the court house, which was supposed to be a mobproof

Page 3
court house. Athens was very proud of having a mob-proof court house. Which in itself is an indication of the spirit of the times. But when I got there a mob was all around the court house and very soon after I got there the cry went up "Well, we've got him, we've got him." Cars started out in kind of a motorcade. I jumped on the running board of one of the cars to see what was going on. They drove out to the country. I suppose it was about five or ten miles outside of Athens. And there all the people lined up single file and went through this country house where inside, in a coffin, was this dead woman. They all passed by this bier and then crossed this road to what was a kind of a natural amphitheater. People were sitting all around on the side of the bank [back?] and below, in the middle, tied to a small pine tree was this Negro man. They built a fire around his feet and slowly burned him to death. Everytime the fire would spring up, catch his clothes on fire, they'd beat them down so he was slowly burned to death. Well, naturally, this had a very traumatic effect on me. My correspondence with my family for the next year or so was filled back and forth about this event. The papers, of course, in Athens were very much against it, of course, and my Greek professor I remember denounced it in class as barbarism. But it had, nevertheless, a very profound effect on me.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of things did you say about it in your letters to your family? How did they respond to your concern?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I just said what a terrible, barbaric thing it was. And they wrote back, very sympathetically. My family was broadminded. Both my mother and my father were very broadminded, liberal minded people. Strictly bourgeois people. But they believed very strongly in free speech and the right of the individual.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did the Atlanta Constitution treat lynchings?

Page 4
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember what the Atlanta Constitution did, but I suppose they were pretty good about it. The Athens Banner, which was the local paper in Athens, was very good on the subject and denounced the lynching. I didn't do anything about it then. I went on to Harvard. The next year, after graduating at the University of Georgia I went on to Harvard. I went to Harvard for a year.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's where you met Corliss Lamont, isn't it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
To show you the state of my mind at that time, just across from me in the dormitory where I lived was Donald CulrossPeattie, who later became quite a writer on botanical matters. And he invited me to go and hear W.E.B. DuBois at the Liberal Club. So I said okay, I accepted. When he came to call for me it was about 6:30 and I said "Well, isn't it awfully early to be going." He said "Well, we're going for dinner." "Going for dinner? I didn't understand that. I can't go." "Why not?" "Well, I can't go and have dinner with a Negro." He thought that was pretty silly and so did my roommates. And we argued about it until I had no rational defense. So I said okay and went. That was my first break, so to speak, from the southern tradition.
WILLIAM FINGER
What other events in Cambridge do you remember from that year that pushed you into further breaks from your southern tradition?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember anything else on the Negro question. W.E.B. Dubois was very fine and made a great speech and I was very impressed by him at the time. I don't remember anything else on the Negro question.
WILLIAM FINGER
You went on to London from Harvard?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes, after a year at Harvard my family gave me $1,000 to go to Europe for a trip. So I said "Can I just take the $1,000 and make it last as long as I want to, not go on one of these special tours." They said yes.

Page 5
So I did. And as I left my mother gave me a copy of H. G. Wells' Outline of History, which I read going over on the boat and was greatly impressed by it. Particularly the last chapter when he talked about what could be. He talked about the kind of society that should be. So when I got to London I thought I ought to talk to him. I wrote him a note and said I'd like to come talk to him. He didn't answer. I looked him up in the telephone book and found that I had sent it to his country place instead of the place he had in town. So I called up. His secretary said "Who's calling." I said "Mr Foreman." She put him right on. I said "Mr Wells, I wrote you a letter but I sent it to your country place and I haven't received a reply so I thought maybe you didn't get it." He said "Oh, then you're not the Mr Foreman I talked to this morning." Apparently the only reason I got through right away to him was that he thought I was somebody else. Anyway I did and he told me how busy he was and how he couldn't take time away from his writing and so forth, but wanted to know what I wanted to talk to him about. I said "I can't go into it on the telephone, but I would like very much to have a little while with you." He said "Well, you write me another letter and send it here and I'll see." I did write another letter and sent it over by special messenger to his apartment and he replied very promptly and said I could come a few days later. He gave me an appointment for 15 minutes. When I went over to see him for the 15 minutes, he was very cordial, very nice and I told him why I'd come to him. I'd read his book and I was very much impressed by it and I wanted him to advise me what he thought would be the best thing for me to do. I really was coming to him just the way I would come to a doctor, for advice as to what I should do with my life to carry out the ideas he had in that last chapter in the book. He said "Well, no doctor would diagnose on the basis of such a small amount

Page 6
of information. I can't really tell you what you should do. But do you speak French?" I said no. "Do you speak German?" I said no. I said I studied a little French but German was not taught in the schools during the First World War. So he said "Well, my advise, in a general way, is to go to Germany for the winter and learn German and then go to France, next summer, and polish up your French, and then go to the London School of Economics." So I thanked him and left. Oh, I forgot to say that in the course of the conversation he said "Well, what were you planning to do before you read my book?" And I said "Well, my family had a job for me in the bank in Atlanta, but I don't want to be a banker." He said "Well, you could do a lot of good as a banker. Look at Thomas W. Lamont, how much good he's done." I said "Well, in the first place, I don't see any chance of my becoming a Thomas W. Lamont. And in the second place, I don't want to." So I went on to Germany, spent the winter in Germany. My mother had a stroke so I had to come home in the spring. I didn't spend a summer in France. After spending a summer at home I decided I would go back to the London School of Economics. My family was very much against it because they were afraid I was staying away too long and I'd just be another one of these lost Americans in Europe and I should go to work. It was a little bit difficult because the only reason I could give for going was because H. G. Wells had recommended it. Anyway, my father then played a last card and said that the expenses of my mother's illness had been so great that he couldn't really afford to send me for another year. I said that I could understand that very well but I was going anyway.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did your father do for a living?
CLARK FOREMAN:
He was the state director of the Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. The time came, I got ready to leave, father said well, he couldn't

Page 7
give me the money but he would lend it to me. Which turned out to be very good because when I got to London one of the first things I found out was that I couldn't work there. I had expected to work my way through, you know, the way they do over here. But that wasn't possible in London.
So I went to the London School of Economics and there I had a very different kind of experience. Of course there were all kinds of people there from all over the world. A great many Negro students, some of whom I got to know quite well. One of the crucial things that happened was that I was given a book to review for the school paper. The book was J. H. Oldham's Christianity and the Race Problem. Now my parents had been writing me all the time urging me to come on home and get to work, you know, don't just stay over in Europe indefinitely. But when I read Oldham's book, he told about the starting of the Interracial Commission, the Commission on Interracial Cooperation, it was called, and what a good job they were doing in Atlanta. Well, here I was from Atlanta, reading a book in London, learning about what was happening here in my own home town that I had never heard of before. So I decided to come home and go to work for the Interracial Commission. When I came home I told father that's what I wanted to do and he said "Well, I know the head of it very well, Dr Ashby Jones. He's a very close friend of mine. And I will arrange for him to see you." So he did. I went to see Dr Jones and he was very kind, but he said I should see Will Alexander, the director. I went to see Will Alexander and told him that I wanted to work with the Commission.
He said they would like to have me but that they didn't have any money. There was nothing in the budget to provide for a job. So he couldn't pay me until January. I could start in January. Well, this was in August. I said "Well, look, I don't want to just sit around here from now until January waiting to work. Why don't I

Page 8
just come and work for nothing. I'll come to the office and work for no salary." He said okay, but then he found the money and to my great surprise I was getting $250 a week. I don't believe it was a month. I think it was $250 a week, maybe a month, let's see. It came to about $3,000 a year, so I guess that was $250 a month.
JACQUELYN HALL:
On the basis of reading one book you were interested enough in race problems to come back and go to work for the Interracial Commission?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was interested enough to do it before I read the book, I guess. But the book only showed me where I could work. Anyway, I went to work and I was very pleased with that salary because it was quite a good salary at that time. The first one I'd ever earned.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you do?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I became the secretary for the Committee for Georgia. Arthur Raper talked about it yesterday a little bit. And set up these committees around the state. For instance, I went to Augusta, Georgia, and went to see some people there. I went to see the leading white people that I knew about and talked to them. And they said "Look, we don't have any trouble in Augusta. Everything is fine here. We have the best niggers in the South. No trouble at all." Then I went to see the Negro leaders and talked to them and they said more or less the same thing. "We don't have any trouble in Augusta. Everything's fine here. The white folks just treat us fine. Everything's good." I said "Well, I noticed when I came out here, that the paving stopped when it got to the Negro part of town." "Oh yes, that's true, and there's no water, no sewer . . . " There were no public facilities for the Negroes who lived in Augusta. So I said, "Isn't that something that we should do something about?" They were all very interested in doing something about that. Then I went back to talk to the white people and told them, the white leaders. And they didn't know about it

Page 9
at all. They claimed they didn't. Sort of like the Germans didn't know about the Nazis, you know.
WILLIAM FINGER
What kind of leaders? Were these church leaders or business leaders, bankers?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Both. Church, largely. I don't think there were many bankers in the Negro community in Augusta at that time.
WILLIAM FINGER
I meant white and Negro.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well . . . in the white community . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
The mayor of the town or the ministers . . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember who it was I went to see.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In general, though, in setting up interracial committees, what kind of people were you trying to . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
I'd try to find out who were the most influential people in town and the most likely to talk to me about it, you know.
WILLIAM FINGER
But you talked openly about your interest in interracial activities and people would see you and . . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure, sure.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of accomplishments did you . . . ?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, they set up the committee and they did get the streets paved and they did get the public facilities extended into the Negro community.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you set up local interracial committees in other towns?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Not in every town, but a few towns. Arthur Raper said Augusta, Brunswick and I don't remember how many others.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were some of the other issues that you tried to work on?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Issues? No ideological issues. It was just a question of getting the roads paved and getting the facilities evenly distributed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Those were the limits of what you were trying to do at the time?

Page 10
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, as Arthur Raper said yesterday, what we were trying to do was to get the people to working together. And for them, when they sat down together, to decide among themselves, what they wanted to do. How far they were willing to go.
WILLIAM FINGER
Had you started to become aware of the poll tax?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Not at that time.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you learn about it through this kind of exposure to towns across Georgia? More political kinds of issues.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't think I did. That development came later and what happened, after I'd been down in Georgia here for two years . . . . I began to feel pretty depleted, you know? I felt that all the time I was trying to pull people along and I was not getting the inspiration that I needed. So I decided that I should go North for a while. About that time Thomas Jesse Jones, the director of the Phelps-Stokes Fund, came down to visit the Martha Berry schools. He stopped by Atlanta to see Will Alexander and asked me to go up there with him, to the various schools. I did. And I told him that I was planning to go to New York and he said that he thought that would be a big mistake, that I should stay down in the South and get my Ph.D. I said I wasn't willing to go back and ask my father to support me anymore and that I was going North. So he said "Well, next year I'm going to be in Africa, so if you come up and work in the office as my assistant on a part time basis and go to the University of Columbia and study for your Ph.D. we can give you a good salary." So that was very good and I accepted that offer. But while I was up there, I realized that politics was a crucial issue. I don't know when I realized it or whether I realized it here and then there or just how. But what I do remember is that Thomas Jesse Jones was horrified at this and wrote my father a long

Page 11
letter saying what a dangerous radical I was and how wrong it was for me to be thinking in terms of political activity for the Negroes instead of, you know, just gradually bringing them along.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Let me ask you something about the Interracial Commission before you go on. You said that you felt depleted, you weren't learning anything or weren't getting any inspiration in your work with the Interracial Commission. What about Will Alexander? You didn't learn anything from him or you didn't feel any . . . ? What was your impression of him?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, he was always very friendly. My impression was of a very nice Methodist minister.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He didn't have any vision of change in the South that he communicated to you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I guess he did have visions in terms of Christian ideology, you know, but it was nothing that got into me. And as Arthur Raper said yesterday, always when people said what are the objectives of the Interracial Commission, he would say "Well, we don't have any objectives as such. What we're trying to do is work together as far as we can." And that made a lot of sense to me then and it still does. Because if I had gone down to Augusta and told those people "Lets do this and let's do that" there would have been much more resistance than if I said "Well, let's get you together and see what you want to do."
JACQUELYN HALL:
It made sense to you but it didn't take you very far, it didn't inspire you.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, it didn't inspire me because I didn't feel I was getting the education that I needed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about Arthur Raper? How would you describe the differences between Arthur Raper and Will Alexander? Or were there any? Were they very close in their . . . .?

Page 12
CLARK FOREMAN:
Arthur Raper took my place when I left. I didn't know him tool well.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was Jessie Daniel Ames there at the time? What was she like?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes, she was there. She was a very good woman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember what kind of work she was doing?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, largely on getting women together against lynching. I found Mary McLoud Bethune a more inspiring person than most any of the others, although John Hope was a very inspiring person to work with, too.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you went to work for the Phelps-Stokes Fund?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I went to the Phelps-Stokes Fund and worked there for two years. After I'd worked there for two years I'd got my M.A. at Columbia. The Julius Rosenwald Fund, Edward Embree, president of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, [unknown] wrote and offered me a job to come and work with them. He asked Jesse Jones for a recommendation or his opinion. And Jesse Jones wrote a long letter, three page letter, you know, telling really what a son-of-a-bitch I was but on the whole saying at the end take him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What had you done to . . . ?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I believe I had thought W.E.B. Dubois was right and that political activity was the real answer. I hadn't done anything otherwise. It was just that he thought I was a dangerous radical.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you try to push Phelps-Stokes in that direction?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I tried to push him but he wasn't pushable. He was a Welshman. Jesse Jones. I remember I was working in his office at the time that Lindbergh flew to Paris. He came in and said "Oh, isn't this wonderful, wonderful. Only a Nordic could have done this." I was horrified. Here was a blackish Cephalic Welshman with a long head, as un-Nordic as you could be and still be white. I said "Nonsense." Well, I

Page 13
guess that was another thing that probably made him think I was a little radical.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did Will Alexander think you were a little too aggressive as the secretary of the Georgia Interracial Committee?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't think so because Will Alexander, when Edwin Embree sent him the letter that he got from Jesse Jones, Will Alexander wrote a long letter to Embree recommending me, on the basis of which Embree gave me the job.
JACQUELYN HALL:
There weren't any conflicts between you and the other staff members of the Interracial Commission?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. Alexander and I didn't have any conflicts, no.
WILLIAM FINGER
What exactly did you do at the Phelps-Stokes and at the Rosenwald Funds?
CLARK FOREMAN:
In the Phelps-Stokes Fund, while Jesse Jones was in Africa, my job was just sort of to take care of things in the office and see that letters were answered. I didn't really have to do a great deal of anything except to go to Columbia and get my M.A. degree.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Then you moved over to the Rosenwald Fund, to do what?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Then I went to the Rosenwald Fund. And the story with the Rosenwald Fund was this: When Julius Rosenwald set up the Rosenwald Fund, he gave $25 million with the provision that it all had to be spent within 25 years. But he gave it in Sears Roebuck stock. So in those first five years they gave away money every year, but at the end of the year stock had gone up so much that they had more money than they began with. It was 1928 when I went . . . . So Embree was very much worried then that he wasn't going to be able to get rid of all this $25 million within the 25 years he had to do it. So my job was to think up new ways of giving away this money. Which pleased me a lot. His idea really was for me to go out

Page 14
to Nashville and take over the Nashville office, which was then being run by a man named S. L. Smith, who had been in charge of their school construction program and was really very nice but sort of old fashioned guy, largely interested in school construction. When I got down to Nashville I saw that Smith was a good guy and doing a good job and it would be wrong for me to sort of try to push him out. So I told Embree that and said that I didn't think that I should supplant Smith but I would stay on and do a job along side him. He agreed. And I got Horace Mann Bond as an assistant for myself. He and I made a study of the school situation in the South, to try to prove or disprove the theory that Negroes were inferior intellectually, you know, by showing that if they had equal environmental opportunities that they would do equally well. Well, we made this study in I think 11 different counties in the South. We went to a school and gave them tests, the children tests. Then I also initiated the county library system.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you publish the results of that study?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I did later on as my Ph.D. thesis. I'll tell you about it. At that time there was no county in the South which provided a free library service for all the people. I thought that was a pretty bad thing and that the Rosenwald Fund could do a good job by giving assistance to a number of counties provided they would give free library service to all the people, rural and urban, Negro and white. So we found 13 counties that agreed to match our money on a four or five year period and set up these county libraries systems. Which I imagine now is a pretty general pattern in the South. After a couple of years with these libraries and schools and so on and so on, along with the declining stock market, Embree was no longer afraid of not being able to give away the money. He was

Page 15
afraid that the money wouldn't last. So he said "Look, Clark, don't think up any more ways of giving away the money. Go on to Columbia for a year and get that Ph.D. degree that you started that we interrupted." So he gave me my salary for a year to go to Columbia and get my Ph.D. degree. And then I published as my dissertation the study on the schools—"The Environmental Factors in Negro Elementary Education." And at the end of that year he said "Well, the situation is even worse now." This was '32. "So this is the last year we can agree to pay you. But we'll give you another year's salary to go to Europe and write a book on whatever you'd like to. Go to Europe for a year." So I did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he want you to go to Europe for a year?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Get rid of me. I was on his hands and he had his money and he didn't know what to do.
WILLIAM FINGER
Wasn't that a little odd just to say I'll pay your way to Europe. He could have said "Go out and find a job" couldn't he. He didn't have to keep you around and send you to Europe. He must have been impressed with your work or something.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, maybe he was. Who am I to say he wasn't?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was the only reason he wanted to get rid of you because he was worried about his money or did he think you were moving along in directions that he—
CLARK FOREMAN:
There was no indication of anything except financial. And he gave me this year's salary and said go to Europe. On the way over to Europe, on the boat, I met my wife, who was a Canadian. And she was going to Paris to do stories for her paper. She was the women's editor of the Toronto Daily Star.
WILLIAM FINGER
You were going to Paris also?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, I was going to Paris also. Then from Paris I went on

Page 16
to London and then I went up to Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Estonia and then into Russia. I stayed in Russia for five months. Then I went on down to Turkey, Greece and came back through Italy and Switzerland and then to Paris again and met my wife when she came over the next summer. We met in Paris and got married.
WILLIAM FINGER
That's very romantic. Traveling all through eastern Europe and then swinging back through Paris to get married.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you just knew her one summer and then married her the next summer?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you have any idea at that point that you would return South and she would leave Toronto . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
Nope.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you think you would stay in the North? After you got married did you think you would go to Canada?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, what happened on that was I got a letter from her saying that she was arriving on such and such a date in July. And the next day I got a letter from Edwin Embree saying that he wanted me to come back to the United States. There was an important job over here to be done. So I wrote him a letter. I couldn't tell him at that time when I would be able to come back because I didn't know.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]

[TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
CLARK FOREMAN:
I wrote him and told him that I would be coming back the first part of August but I couldn't tell him just exactly when.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did he give you an indication of what the job was?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. The day before Mairi arrived I got a cable from him saying "Cable when you will arrive." So we got married after a few days and I sent him a cable saying "Just married. Would like to stay a couple

Page 17
weeks longer." So he cabled, said okay.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Had you decided to get married before she came?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. How could I decide to get married before she came?
WILLIAM FINGER
You mean you decided in three days after she arrived on the boat?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER
You were a bold young man.
CLARK FOREMAN:
As my mother said, how could you tell? How could you be sure? But we both were sure and it's worked out very well.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you write a book when you were traveling around Europe?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you expand your dissertation about Negro education?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. That had all been published before I left. At Columbia you have to publish your dissertation before they'll give you the Ph.D. That was fortunate, too, because the Rosenwald Fund took care of that. They paid for the publication of the dissertation. Anyway, when Mairi arrived, her assignment was to write a story about how the French spend their summers in French summer resorts. So we decided that we'd see. I went to the American Express and asked what was the best place to go to see, at that time, resorts, summer resorts. So he told me the name of some beach —Deauville— [unknown] and it was completely deserted. Everywhere we went people said "C'est la crise." You know, the crisis. Nobody . . . the French were not having any vacations at that time. Big gambling halls absolutely deserted. Well, I had been invited to make a speech in Geneva at the Geneva School of International Studies by Alfred Zimmern, who had been a professor at Oxford and who later became Sir Alfred Zimmern. I suggested that Mairi go down there with me to Geneva. So we flew to Geneva and when I got there I said to . . . I called Mrs.

Page 18
Zimmern and said that I couldn't stay with them as they had invited me so kindly to do. I'd be staying at the hotel because I was going to get married. She said "Oh, that's fine. Why don't you get married here." So I said "Well great, we'll come out and get married there, tonight." In about an hour she had somebody call me up and say that it wouldn't be possible to get married in Geneva that quickly, that you had to issue banns, allow two weeks to pass, you had to have your birth certificate and all kind of things that we didn't have. We decided to go out for dinner with her anyway. And all through the dinner I kept needling Alfred Zimmern about getting married, you know. And he had written a book called Greek Civilization. He had been a professor of Greek Civilization at Oxford. So I said "Well, Alfred, why don't we have a Greek ceremony. Be married in a Greek ceremony." He said well, that wouldn't be possible because that took two weeks. They started one week and then finished the next week. I skipped, in this process, the fact that in the morning we thought maybe we could get some extraterritorial help so to speak and had gone to see the Canadian consul in Geneva. He turned out to be a friend of Mairi's father and he said "Are you Colonel Frazer's daughter?" She said yes. He said "Well, I think you should get married in Toronto. Toronto is a very beautiful place to get married in. I was married there." We said thank you very much and left him and went to see the American consul. When we got to the American consulate they said, "Oh, he's not here." "Where can we find him?" "He's probably swimming out in the lake." So we went out there and swam out to this raft and there, sure enough, was this fellow. I started talking to him about it and said we wanted to get married. He said he couldn't do it, that he didn't have authority, which wasn't right. He did have authority. Could have done

Page 19
it, as I found out later. But he said "There are only two ways for you to get married, legally, right away. One is to go to Russia and the other is to go to sea." I said "Well, I just spent five months in Russia and I don't want to go back there. That's the last thing I want to do right now. So I guess I'll wait til I go to sea. But I want to get married tonight." "Well, you can't do it here." I said "Well, I guess we'll just have to sit around, have drinks, have a Quaker wedding. Just say we're married." Well, that shocked him terribly. Anyway, I told all this to Alfred Zimmern at dinner and I said "Now Alfred, tonight we're going to get married. And if there's any moral [unknown] connected with it, it's going to be on your head, not mine. I've tried every way I can to make this thing legal and it doesn't seem to be possible." So he said "Well all right, come on. I'll marry you." So we joined the ladies in the living room and he called everybody to join around and said to Mairi "Do you take this man for your legal husband?" She said yes. [unknown] So he kissed us both and said we were married. So we said so too and I went off to the conservatoire where I was supposed to give my lecture and spoke about the new internationalism which was the subject of my talk.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's the book that you wrote.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. Then later on . . . the substance of my lecture I wrote in an article for the New Republic and they published it with a big whole front page given to it. So when I got back WW Norton, the publisher, asked me to put it into a book. I did. After the lecture, we gave a reception at the hotel had a sky room up at the top. I remember this young man who had worked for them, worked for the Zimmerns. Later on became a professor of psychology at Harvard. He was the one told me we couldn't get married because of the bans. When he heard me introducing

Page 20
people to my wife he came up and said "Clark, you can't really say that. You know, you're not really married." I said "Get the hell out. I am married." Anyway, it didn't shush him up. When we got on the ship . . . . Did I say that I cabled Embree that I was just married and wanted to stay two weeks later and he said yes? Well, we got on the Ile de France to come back on the ship and registered as Mr and Mrs Foreman. So I remembered what this American consul had said, the two ways of getting married. One was at sea and one was in Russia. So I went to the captain and said that we wanted to get married and he said "Well, is one of you dying?" "No, we're in perfectly good health." "Well, then if you are I can't marry you." He said the French line, unlike all other lines, is under French law and so you don't have that same kind of privilege. So there we were, registered as Mr and Mrs Foreman and having declared ourselves to the captain the first day as not being married. But he was very nice about it and he gave Mairi a big send off on her birthday which happened on the way back at the captain's table. When we got back to New York . . . . I'd cabled to friends to meet us in New York and they took us down to City Hall and we got married in City Hall in New York. But neither one of us made allowances for the dirth of news at that time. And since my uncle was the editor of the Atlanta Constitution and she was the women's editor of the Toronto Daily Star, some enterprising reporter picked up the fact that we were married, see, and wired our respective papers. Wired the Toronto Daily Star and the Atlanta Constitution. So there were stories, very confusing, about the marriage saying that . . . I had wired my family saying that we were married in Geneva. So when the paper got the wire from New York they ran a story that we'd had this double wedding, civil and religious ceremony, you know. How they could have done that I don't know.

Page 21
WILLIAM FINGER
How did your parents handle all this, these cables and . . . ?
CLARK FOREMAN:
They didn't mind. My mother said "Well, how could you be so sure?"
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of impression did your trip to Russia make on you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That I didn't want to live there. My impression of Russia was that they were really struggling and trying to do something. But they were so far behind us that they had nothing really to teach us except in the spirit of working.
WILLIAM FINGER
Political ideology of the times didn't effect you? Leninism.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. In fact, some of the people that I knew there were called Trotskyists and one of them later on disappeared. The husband of Freda Utley. And she wrote a book called The Dreams we Lost in which she said I was one of the few people who came to Russia who was not taken in by the prevailing euphoria.
WILLIAM FINGER
Had you read Marx's and Lenin's works in London at the School of Economics?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't think I read them in London, but I read them in Russia. I studied a lot in the Marxist Leninist Institute in Moscow. I said I studied . . . I read there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were your criticisms of what was happening in Russia?
CLARK FOREMAN:
A complete lack of freedom. Complete lack of bread, or almost a complete lack of it. 1932 or '33. Very hard times.
WILLIAM FINGER
Were you aware of how hard the times were in the States?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. I missed out on the depression completely. I mean by that I was fortunate in keeping afloat during the depression, thanks to the Rosenwald Fund.
WILLIAM FINGER
When you came home you still were able to keep out of the

Page 22
depression? You were back in New York in 1933.
CLARK FOREMAN:
When I came back to New York in 1933 Embree and Will Alexander met me and told me that when the New Deal had been set up they made a presentation to Roosevelt saying that there should be some special provision made to be sure that the Negroes got their fair share of the New Deal. Roosevelt agreed but said that it should be handled by Harold Ickes. So they went to see Harold Ickes and he said suggest me a name, give me a list of names of people that you think can handle the job. So they gave him a list of names, out of which he chose me. Ickes chose me.
WILLIAM FINGER
On the recommendation of Will Alexander?
CLARK FOREMAN:
From the list that Will Alexander and Embree gave him. I don't know who the other names were, if that's what you mean.
WILLIAM FINGER
So you went to work within the Department of Interior.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Let me ask you first to go back a little bit. What was the thesis of your article and your speech on the new internationalism?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That the withdrawal of such a large part of the world economy as the Russians represented made the old theories of capitalist economy out of date and no longer workable. At the same time, the socialist theory that could have a new system wasn't going to work because of the fact that the United States and the rest of the world didn't go into it. And that . . . what I said was that there would be more and more exchange between governments and less and less between individuals. So there would be more intergovernmental activity in economics. And that's what I wrote up in a book called the New Internationalism.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Wasn't there some protest on the part of the blacks about the appointment of a white man?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Not at first. When I took the job . . . . When I went in to

Page 23
see Ickes and he offered me the job, I said to him "Now Mr Secretary, as I understand this job, the main thing that I would be supposed to do is get jobs for Negroes." He said yes. I said "Well, one job that a Negro could certainly handle would be the one that I am taking, so it would seem to me that it would be much better for you to appoint a Negro than to appoint me." He said "Well, that may be true, but I don't know any Negro that I would give the job to, and if you don't take it I'll give it to another white man." So I said "Well, on that basis, I will accept provided that when the time comes that you will appoint a Negro to the job and I will resign." He said okay. And I said "Well, now I would like to have a Negro assistant and a Negro secretary." He said okay. So I found Robert Weaver, who was teaching down in some little college in North Carolina. I don't remember what it was. I brought him to Washington. And Lucia Pitts, Ickes recommended her because she had worked in Illinois and been a secretary for his wife who was in the legislature in Illinois. She found her very good. I wrote Lucia Pitts and asked her to come down to be my secretary and she did. And I brought Robert Weaver in to be my assistant. Now there was some feeling that—later on—that a black man should be doing this job, my job. But that was a lot of different—John Davis, who was, at that time, radical but now very conservative man. I would say that by and large I had the support of the black community. People like Mary McLoud Bethune. [unknown] Editors of the newspapers and so forth. People like that were very supportive.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were there any other black secretaries in the Washington bureaucracy at that time?
CLARK FOREMAN:
At the time I gave the job to Lucia Pitts she was the first black secretary in government. Gene Talmadge, who was then the governor of Georgia, went on the radio twice a day and denounced me for doing such

Page 24
an outrageous thing as appointing a Negro secretary. Now, of course, it's the most common thing in the world. And when Weaver came up . . . he came up to talk to me about taking the job. We were talking in the morning and we hadn't finished our conversation when it came time to have lunch, so I said "Why don't we go up to the government cafeteria and have lunch." So we went up there and when we sat down the hostess came over and said to him "Do you work in the department?" He looked completely dismayed, you know. I said yes and she said "Where?" and I said . . . told her the room number. So she wrote it all down. I said "Well look, if we can't meet here in our own cafeteria to talk we can't do the job at all, so let's go ahead with it." The reason they did this . . . they had a sign outside "For Employees Only" and there was a separate dining room for the Negro employees. So Negroes were not, at that time, eating in any of the government cafeterias in Washington. I wondered what happened to this protest, this woman writing all this down, what was going to happen. I found out much later . . . . One time Secretary Ickes had an office, a big long hall. He sat down there and people came in and sat around waiting for their appointment in line and move up. So when I got nearly there—it was something else that came up, I don't remember what it was—and he said "Well, it's just a matter of fundamental justice. It's just like that question about Negroes eating in the dining room. When that was brought up to me I said of course they should eat in the dining room. I don't want to hear anything more about it. And that was the end of that." So that was the protest.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That's amazing, because the other government dining rooms stayed segregated, didn't they. The department of Interior cafeterias were the only, still were the only integrated cafeterias in Washington.

Page 25
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, later on even, during the Second World War, when they built the new big Interior building, some women employees came to Ickes and protested the fact that Negroes were eating in the dining room. So he went down next day, himself, and ate in the general dining room. When he got through he stood up on his chair, knocked on the table and said "I've got an announcement to make. Yesterday several employees came to me and complained about the fact that Negroes were eating in the dining room and I want everybody to understand that it is absolutely okay and it should be done and if anybody comes to me with any complaints on the subject any more that person will be fired." So that was the end of that.
WILLIAM FINGER
So in 1933 and 1934 you ate with Luca Pitts . . . you ate with your secretary in the dining hall.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were your duties as adviser of the economic status of the Negro? That was your title?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. Adviser on the Economic Status of the Negroes. Another example of the kind of thing that went on. You see, when I went in there Ickes said "It's understood with the President that even though you're working in my office you're to be operating throughout the government, anywhere."
I found that the CCC was set up, you know, to give employment relief to people. They had Negro camps and white camps, but in the Negro camps they would not employ any Negro skilled, intellectual labor or any . . . . And the army people there were all white, even in the Negro camps. So I went to the head of the CCC to complain about this and he said "Well, there's nothing we can do about that. The reason we can't do anything about it is that the army is in charge of assigning people to the camps and they are assigning white officers. They don't want the white officers to be eating with Negroes." I said "Well, I

Page 26
better go and see the army about it." So I went to see the army and the man in charge was a Major Major. His name was Major Major. As soon as I made him aware of who I was and what I'd come to talk about, he said "Well now, Mr Foreman, I leave here usually at 4:30 and it is now 4:20." I said "Well, Major what I have to say won't take more than ten minutes. Really, the problem is, why can't we have Negro officers in the Negro CCC camps?" He said "Well, it would never work. You don't understand. Obviously you don't understand the South." I said "Well, in the First World War there were Negro companies in the South and Negro officers and no trouble as far as I know and I don't see why you couldn't have them now. It doesn't make sense to me to give employment only to the most ignorant, illiterate Negroes and not give employment to the officers who are trained and to the educated Negroes." He said "Well obviously you don't understand the South. Where are you from?" So I said "Well Major, I'm from Georgia. Where are you from?" "Well, I'm from New York, but I've lived in the South a lot." "I don't think I need to take any more of your time, Major. You still can get out on time. It's not 4:30 yet." So I got up and left and I went back and reported this conversation to Ickes and said "I have found out that you have a right, as ecretary of the nterior, to appoint the people in the camps in the parks of the country." Because the National Park Service was a part of the Interior Department. And any CCC camps that were set up in the parks, he could appoint the people. He said "Well, all right, you write me a peremptory order to the Park Service saying that the next job that becomes available in"—intellectual work, I've forgotten what they called it—"should go to a Negro." So I wrote up the peremptory order, all right, and sent it down to the Park Service. A few days later they came in, a delegation to see me and said "We have this order from you but it's not going to be as easy

Page 27
as you think. The job that's become available is that of an archeologist who will do some work for us in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania." Finding an unemployed Negro archeologist in 1933 was not an easy job. But we scoured the countryside and found a very fine fellow named Dr King from West Virginia and sent his name down to the Park Service for the job. A few days later a delegation came back to my office and said "Well, the man's name that you sent down is obviously the best qualified that we have for the job. But we don't believe that you can understand what the situation is in Gettysburg, Pa. There the CCC office is in the same building with the post office, just above the post office, and there are only white people there and they're not used to working with Negroes and not used to having Negroes around. If you insist on this, there will be riots and bloodshed and it will be on your head." He was trying to scare me into backing away from it. I said "Well now look, my grandfather fought at Gettysburg to keep the Negroes slaves. And your grandfathers fought there to liberate them. If there's any more blood to be shed on this issue, there's no better place for it than Gettysburg. So I think you should go ahead, get the job done and give it to Dr King." They got up and were furious and marched out. For days after that I looked at the paper every day to see if there were any riots or bloodshed in Gettysburg, you know. But weeks passed by. I got a call later, from Gettysburg. It was some colonel there who called, said he was coming to Washington the next day and could he see me. I said yes. He came in. I didn't know what to expect. He said "Well, Dr Foreman, I understand you are responsible for recommending Dr King to take the job with us in Gettysburg." I said "Well yes, that's true. I was responsible." "Well, I just wanted you to know that if you have any more like him, we'd like them. Like to get them. We've never had a better person. We haven't had a bit of trouble. The whole

Page 28
time he's been there, everything's been fine." So that's always stood out to me as an example of how, if you allow yourself to be intimidated, you see, you can lose an opportunity. But once we went through with it and King got the job, then the whole question of Negroes eating . . . Dr King was a Negro and he sat there and he ate with the officers. Then they put Negro officers in, later on. Other jobs they gave to Negroes. It was a question of really trying to intimidate me on the part of the Park Service.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did that have a ripple effect throughout the CCC? Were there more and more black officers . . . .?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I can't generalize as to how prevalent it was, but that's something you could find out. I mean somebody that did research on it could find out. But it did have some ripple effect, but how much I don't know.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you involved at all in the public housing aspects of the Department of Interior?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Very much involved in it. At that time, in 1933 and '34, my involvement was to see that Negroes got their share of the jobs. And when they started a public housing venture or any other public works, say in Atlanta, that ten percent of the Negroes—or whatever the percentage of the population was—got jobs.Finally we got an order to that effect through the Public Works Administration. That employment should be on the basis of the population. And if the skilled workers of the town were available, they had to be . . . jobs had to be given to Negroes in proportion. But later on I became the director of defense housing. That was an entirely different story.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you try at all to challenge segregation in the public housing projects that you built?

Page 29
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, as a matter of fact I didn't because that had to be done through the local housing authorities. For instance, any housing that was built in Atlanta was done through the Atlanta housing authority. They made the policies. Policies were not made in Washington.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did Ickes try at all to pressure them, the local housing authorities . . . ?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, I didn't.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did that issue even come up?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was just assumed that housing projects would be segregated.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I think now thatwe were just so eager to get houses built that we weren't thinking about the problem of segregation. But I don't remember the issue ever being made. Anyway, after two years I said to Ickes that I thought that Robert Weaver was capable of handling the job. And if he would make him the advisor, I would resign. Ickes said that he would make him advisor, but he didn't want me to resign. He would like me to stay on as his special counsel in his office to give him advice on general things. Which consisted largely of writing his speeches and working on a book for him and so forth. So that takes us to 1934.
WILLIAM FINGER
You stayed on as his special adviser?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. That's '34. So I think that's enough for today.
[End of November 16 interview.] [November 19, 1974 interview begins]
JACQUELYN HALL:
During the panel discussion you mentioned an incident which almost got you fired from the Interracial Commission. I wondered if you would tell me that incident again and any other similar incidents which might give us some idea about what the members of the Interracial Commission, the white members in particular, were trying to do. What their

Page 30
attitude toward blacks was. What their vision of society consisted of. Whether, how you fit in to the stance of the Interracial Commission at that time.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes, well, this man, Marion Jackson [unknown] wasn't typical at all of the rest of the board. At the time I didn't know him or know anything about him. I just knew his son, who had been a childhood friend. We were walking home from town late one afternoon and just talking about things in general when the subject got somehow about the North and the South. The relative merits of the North and the South. He was very partial, of course, to the South and said so very emphatically and gave as an example the fact that in the South men took off their hats in the elevator when a woman got on and they didn't show this courtesy in the North. So I said to him "Well, Rick, why do you think they do that?" He said "It's out of respect for womanhood, in deference to women." I said "I don't think it could be that because if a Negro woman gets on the elevator we don't take off our hats." I do, but they didn't. Well, the conversation drifted on to other things and I didn't think anything more about it until I learned sometime later from Will Alexander that Rick gone home and told this story to his father and his father had called up Will Alexander and urged him to fire me as being too radical. Anybody talked like that shouldn't be on the Interracial Commission. Will Alexander talked him out of it in some way. Probably told him I was sophomoric. Never heard any more about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But he wasn't typical of the board?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, he wasn't typical.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there any difference between the staff of the Interracial Commission and the board as far as how far they were willing to go in

Page 31
challenging the status quo? Any conflicts between board and the staff?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I was never conscious of any conflict.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I have been doing research on Jesse Daniel Ames and the campaign against lynching and I came across some remarks of hers somewhere about you, saying that you were awfully hot-headed and aggressive young man. Does that surprise you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Doesn't surprise me at all. She came in some time after I was there. She came from Texas and joined the staff. I thought of her as being a very aggressive woman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In what way?
CLARK FOREMAN:
In wanting things her way. She came in with the idea of sort of changing things around, seemed to me, as I remember it, to her way of doing things. And they weren't always mine. I think we had some mild disagreements but I don't think they were anything deep or ideological.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of things did you disagree about?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember. But they weren't anything important, I don't believe.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you know what the source of tension was between her and Will Alexander?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I was not conscious of any tension except she was the kind of person that wanted to take over everything. She probably wanted to tell him how to run the organization and he resisted a little bit. That would be my guess.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yesterday when we stopped we were at 1934.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Came 1934, I said to Secretary Ickes that I thought Robert Weaver could handle the job and would he accept him as adviser if I resigned. He said he would but he wanted me to stay on as his special counsel to help

Page 32
him with his books and speeches. I had to write and check with the Rosenwald Fund about this because they were paying my salary. Ickes was a very smart, thrifty guy. So when Embree came and told him he thought he ought to take me on the staff, he said he didn't have any provision in the budget for it. But if Embree would pay for the job from the Rosenwald Fund, he would do it. Embree did pay for it. I think he also paid the salary of Miss Luca Pitts, my secretary. I'm not sure about that, but I think so.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was it while you were special counsel that you organized the interdepartmental committee on Negro affairs?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I'm not sure whether I did that before or after I became his special assistant. What I did was to go around to speak to every one of the secretaries and ask them if they wouldn't have somebody on their staff do the same kind of work I was supposed to be doing. Some of them did have. For instance, in Commerce . . . Eugene Kinkle Jones was there in Commerce. I think his secretary was named Roper. I'm not sure of this now. Henry Wallace wouldn't have anybody. He didn't think he needed it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well he was under a lot of pressure at that very time about the Agricultural Adjustment Act.
CLARK FOREMAN:
He did need it, but he didn't think he did. I talked to Harry Hopkins. Harry Hopkins thought he knew better, you know. He later on got married [unknown]. At that time he didn't have any. When we organized the interdepartmental committee—so-called black cabinet of which I was a shady member—it was Eugene Kinkle Jones, Forrester Washington, who came later. I don't know [unknown] was. He was with Harry Hopkins, wasn't he, but later.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He stayed for just about six months, I think.

Page 33
CLARK FOREMAN:
He came in and left
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was the purpose of the committee?
CLARK FOREMAN:
To relieve me of the responsibility of trying to work through other secretaries. I had a very good relationship with Ickes [unknown] work with him, but when it came time to working with some of these other secretaries, they more or less resented the fact that Ickes . . . .They put it on to Ickes rather than Roosevelt, you know. Ickes was telling them what to do. And that included Harry Hopkins.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You held hearings in the South, didn't you, about the effects the NRA and the Agricultural Adjustment Act were having on blacks?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No I didn't.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Oh. It was pretty much an internal operation. You weren't going out and trying to find out . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. You're talking about this committee? No, the inter-departmental committee was just a way of comparing notes, making suggestions to each other what we could do. So we may have suggested that somebody else hold these hearings, but I didn't have anything to do with them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of information did you have about what kind of effect the New Deal agencies were having on blacks?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, the letters that I would get complaining about discrimination. I got one letter from Mississippi from some tenant farmer down there. He wrote to "Your Race Majesty" and he wanted to know if I couldn't do something about helping the situation down there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you feel like you got any results for your efforts?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I think we got some results from that regulation about employment. They had to employ on public works jobs a proportionate amount of Negro skilled and unskilled. I think there were some results in

Page 34
the CCC as a result of that Gettysburg job. Because once the army had to start eating with Negroes in one place they couldn't very well object to it in another.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was your perception of the internal conflicts that were going on within the administration? Did you feel frustrated? Were there a lot of pressures on Ickes, for example, that were keeping him from being able to go as far as he might have gone? Or at that time did you feel pretty self confident about what you were doing, pretty hopeful?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember feeling frustrated or self confident. A lot of articles in the Negro press and so forth about the need of having a Negro in my job and I was very sympathetic to that. And as soon as I felt that Ickes would do it, I moved in that direction. There was a meeting in Washington where I announced it. John W. Davis was this firebrand. He was having some meeting and I think the meeting was designed to protest my being in the job. I was on the program. When it came time for my speech, I announced that I was resigning and that Robert Weaver was taking over. That had a somewhat deflating effect on Mr John Davis. Emotionally deflating. He weighed about 300 pounds.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you think of Henry Wallace at that time?
CLARK FOREMAN:
At that time I thought Henry Wallace was difficult and evasive. I thought that he could have been more forthright about the problems facing him than he was.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It's always amazed me that he emerged as the Progressive Party candidate in '48 and by then was seen as being so radical.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Which he really wasn't.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Of course C. B. Baldwin was close to him and kept working on him. Milo Perkins was gone; he didn't have anything to do with the

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Progressive Party. I was at a dinner party one time, sitting next to Henry Wallace. I noticed that he had his hand on my ankle and he kept sort of feeling my ankle around. I thought this was a very strange procedure. After about five minutes he said "Clark, you've got an ankle of a thoroughbred."
MAIRI FOREMAN:
He was rather strange. Fanatic.
CLARK FOREMAN:
A veterinary can probably tell, but I can't.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He was fanatic in what way.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Maybe religiously, I'm not sure. He always struck me as being rather fanatical.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I didn't get into that at all. Had all this guru stuff going on. But I didn't know anything about that. I had nothing to do with his religious or his emotional feelings. He would go to a party and just go to sleep, you know. After dinner, sit around like this and just go to sleep.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who were the most cooperative people in the administration? Besides Ickes.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Let's see. I didn't get very much cooperation from anybody outside of Ickes. Ickes was very cooperative. But that wasn't cooperation, he backed me up. And he always did do that. He was very good about backing me up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
He always did?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was your role on getting the report on economic conditions in the South published?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That came some time later. It was around 1938. We're still in '34. At the end of '34, Edwin Embree, the president of the Julius Rosenwald Fund, took the position that they were perfectly willing

Page 36
to pay my salary so long as I was working on the Negro problem, but they couldn't quite see paying me to write Ickes' books and speeches. So I told Ickes this and said that Embree was no longer willing to pay my salary. He said "Well, I'm not prepared to let you go. What other job in the administration would you like to take?" By this time I had done a good deal of work for him on a book on public works administration, so I knew about the public Works Administration and I knew how badly they were handling applications for public power. Which were very controversial. And the engineers were usually pretty conservative people. So when something came along that was controversial they put it at the bottom of the heap and played off the top. So I said to him that I thought that of all the things under his administration the one that was being handled worst was the applications for public power. He said well what did I think he should do about it. And I said I thought he should set up a power division in the Public Works Administration and make me the head of it. So he said "Well, write me up an order to that effect." I said all right and I went out and wrote up the order and he signed it. So in August 1935 I became the director of the Power Division of the Public Works Administration. And I took Miss Pitts with me as my secretary there. I don't remember whether it was then or earlier that Gene Talmadge went on the radio in Georgia every day and denounced me for having a nigger secretary. But the work of the power division was largely one of getting . . . acting on the applications from the various cities over the country that wanted public power.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were these cities that wanted municipally owned power systems?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, municipal power systems. In many cases it necessitated buying up the private power company. Buying them out and turning the whole system into municipal. That involved doing a great deal of work in the

Page 37
courts because the private power companies, led by Wendell Wilkie, were challenging practically every one of these loans that we made and saying that we were acting unconstitutionally doing it. So I got as my lawyer Jerome Frank, who was then more or less in retirement. He was over in the RFC, having been fired by Wallace, along with Alger Hiss, as being too radical. So Jerome organized the legal fight. Took the cases to the Supreme Court and won. In the course of it all the power companies got behind Wendell Wilkie. This I think, to a large extent, was the reason for his getting the nomination, the Republican nomination for president in 1940.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you deal directly with Wendell Wilkie at all?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Dealt directly with all of them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
With Wendell Wilkie?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Oh, no. I didn't have anything to do with him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about TVA? Did that come within your jurisdiction at all?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Hugo Black, who was a justice of the Supreme Court, said that what we were doing was the real thing. Because if it hadn't been for these cities being able to buy TVA power, TVA would not have been able to succeed. But we furnished TVA with the customers and made it possible for them to go ahead and do it.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Was it after that or before that that Ralph Bunche was your general counsel.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember that. No, you're wrong. He was in the State Department.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were mostly involved in litigation, then. In processing the loan applications . . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. It was a question of litigation and getting the organization to pass on these applications. I'll give you an example.

Page 38
Augusta, Georgia, wanted to buy out the Georgia Power Company and have a municipal system. So they would have to apply for the loan from the PWA. That would be referred to me in the power division and we had to examine it from an engineering point of view to see if they could handle it and from the financial point of view to see if it would be a sound loan. If so, we would approve it. Well, immediately the power company would challenge it. So then we had to fight in the courts. Now, Preston Arkwright was the president of the Georgia Power Company. President of the Georgia Power Company. He was an old friend of my father and mother from college days. He came into the office one day and he was absolutely incensed that he had to pass a Negro secretary. But he came in and he said "Is it Mr Foreman or Dr Foreman? How should I address you?" I said "Clark, Mr Arkwright, the way you always have." Because I had known him since I was a child. His son was a very good friend of mine. Well, his whole idea was to persuade me that this loan to Augusta was a dangerous thing to do. I took the position that all I could do was to follow the law as laid down by Congress. Congress had said that they were entitled to it and my job was just to pass on whether they could meet the loans. He was very unhappy about this whole thing and came back down here to Atlanta and went to see my father to complain about it. Well, my father wasn't in the office when he got there, so he talked to my brother, who ran the office when my father wasn't there. He told him that this was a terrible thing that I was doing up there. My brother took the position, well, Mr Arkwright, he's just doing what he thinks should be done and I can't tell him to do what I think should be done. He's the one that has to make the decision. So Mr Arkwright left, accomplished nothing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did he try to pursuade you not to give Augusta the loan?

Page 39
What were his arguments against it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
The argument was that the people of Augusta had a perfectly good electrical service now and they didn't need a municipal one. So I took the position that that was up for them to decide, not for me to decide or for him. If they said they wanted a municipal plant, then they were the ones to make the decision. And they had decided that they did want one.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have other run ins with the Georgia Power Company later on in your career? Were there any permanent repercussions from your tenure in the power division? It seems like you were making some kind of powerful enemy.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't think we had any other applications from Georgia. But he was a part of the big holding company, Commonwealth and Southern, and they had a good many of them under . . . . Wilkie was the overall president. Chattanooga, Knoxville, Nashville, Memphis in Tennessee and in Alabama there was Besemer and another one. But in Georgia I don't believe there was anything but Augusta.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How long were you in that division?
CLARK FOREMAN:
About three or four years, until Roosevelt made the decision that Dr New Deal was dead and Dr Win the War was the one that we had to obey.
This was about 1937 and the funds for the Public Works Administration sort of gave out. It was about that time that I made a speech before . . . . There was a group of liberal southerners that met together in Washington for dinner at Hall's Restaurant. And we'd meet down there about once a month. And one time I was talking down there and I told it to Jerome Frank. And he said what we really need is a pamphlet that sets out, for people to understand, exactly what this is all about. I agreed. Then I got a call one day from the president, Roosevelt, to come over to

Page 40
the White House. I went over there and he told me that he was very unhappy with Senator George, of Georgia, who was opposing most of the legislation that he sent up to the Congress. And he was going to be up for re-election in '38. And he wanted to get a good man to defeat him. Did I have any ideas about that? I had to tell him that I did not, that I had been out of the state so long that I wasn't familiar with it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you ordinarily have personal audiences with Franklin Roosevelt or was that unusual for him to call you over?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, that was unusual, I'd sayunique, that he should call me over.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
He wanted help on the Georgia situation. So he said he had about made up his mind that Lawrence Camp was the best man to defeat George and he didn't have any organization and he needed an organization. And the governor at that time—who I can't remember—was a good man. Rivers. He said Gov Rivers was a good governor and he had agreed that he would support Lawrence Camp. So I told him what I thought. I said that I thought Rivers was a pretty good governor but that I didn't think that Roosevelt could count on him. When the going got rough, he would switch. Roosevelt said well, anyway, as far as he knew he was the best governor that Georgia had had in a long time and he was going to work with him. So I said "Well, I think, Mr President, that the most important thing that I can do is to get out a pamphlet that will tell the people of the South what you are trying to do in the New Deal. They're not getting the message through the newspapers or through the politicians, who by and large are hostile. So if we could get out a pamphlet that would tell them the story, I think that might be very helpful." He said "Well, it may be. But one thing I want to precaution you about. Don't talk about remedies. Just

Page 41
talk about the disease. Just say how bad it is, but don't say what to do about it. You go on and talk about this to my son Jimmy and then go see Lowell Mellette." So I left and I went to see his son Jimmy, who couldn't have cared less. He just was indifferent about the whole thing. Then I went over to see Lowell Mellette, who was the head of the National Emergency Council. A very fine man who had been an editor for a long time of the Scripps-Howard paper in Washington and other things. Lowell was delighted with the idea. Asked me to take charge of it. So I got together a group of southerners in Washington to help me write it up. We got up the pamphlet.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who actually wrote it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Various ones of us wrote it. For instance, Cliff Durr, who was a very fine lawyer at that time with the Reconstruction Finance Corporation, later on with the Communications Commission, was largely responsible for the section on credit. Tex Goldsmith did a good deal of work. Arthur Goldsmith, who had been with the WPA and then was my assistant in the power division. Alger Hiss came in for a few meetings but I don't think he did any writing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you write part of it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes, sure. I had to sort of bind it all together. It was my idea to keep each section four pages so that they could be treated separately. And later on that the pamphlet could have been broken down into a number of four page pamphlets itself, each one on a different subject.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you responsible for the interpretation of the report of the South as an economic colony of the North? Was that a kind of view of what the problems of the South were that you all shared?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, it wasn't a new thing. It was the prevailing attitude

Page 42
and had been for some time. What we were doing was bolstering that by putting the figures together. Putting the story together in that pamphlet.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What do you think of that analysis of what the situation . . . ?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I think it was. I think it's only now that it's breaking away from that. I just came back from Alabama and I was told over there that that pamphlet is still circulating over there. It went into a circulation of over a million, you know. We got together a group of very distinguished southerners to be a sort of sponsoring committee. And we had a meeting in Washington on July 3—on the basis that there would be very little news on July 4—and I had mimeographed copies of the report that we wrote up to submit to this group for their changes and so forth. Frank Graham was the head of it. We asked Howard Odum first, but he was still for Hoover at that point. Howard Odum was very slow in coming around. When we went out to lunch all these men left their copies on their desks. Apparently somebody came in, some reporter, and swiped one of them. So the next day it appeared in full in the New York Times. You know, if we'd asked the New York Times to print it in full, we couldn't have got it. But as a leak, it got in there. Later on other papers in the South printed it in full. So that greatly increased the circulation and the fame of the pamphlet and Roosevelt mentioned it when he made his speech in Georgia for Lawrence Camp. Incidentally, the power company opposed Camp strongly and also told Gov Rivers, who was running for re-election, that if he supported Camp they would defeat him. So despite all of his promises to Roosevelt, he didn't deliver the support and the organization that he had promised to help with did nothing. He switched. He scrammed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you know that the power company put pressure on him?

Page 43
CLARK FOREMAN:
How did I know it at that time? Well, I don't know. I've forgotten how I knew it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So one of the results of the report was the creation . . . or at least it fed in to the other events that were coming together to bring into being the Southern Conference on Human Welfare.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, in a way yes. It aroused a lot of attention and so forth while I was working in Atlanta. [unknown] Josephine Watkins . . . I had known for a long time, was an old friend . . . brought to my office Joseph Gelders, whom I had not known and told me that Joe Gelders was organizing, in Birmingham, a Conference on Human Welfare. And asked me if I would be a member of an advisory committee to set it up. I agreed to go along. As I have with most everything that Josephine has asked me to do. But that's how I got into it.
[END OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]

[TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were you doing in Atlanta?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Lowell Mellett was the head of the National Emergency Council. That was an organization set up by the president to get direct word from the field as to what was going on so that he would not be dependent on the usual political avenues. In each state the National Emergency Council had executives. I was the Georgia director of the Georgia council. And I was responsible to Lowell Mellett. About the time we were working on the report, and just as we were finishing, actually, Lowell Mellett asked me if I wouldn't come down and take the job in Atlanta that had been held, up to that time, by a staunch supporter of Senator George, who was apparently not giving them the kind of information in Washington that they felt they needed. I agreed to take it. One of the things I did was to go around the state with an assistant I had named Francis Shirling and hold meetings in which we discussed various sections of this report with groups of citizens all over the state. I suppose

Page 44
that's the best answer to that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you went to the Birmingham conference that formed the Southern Conference on Human Welfare?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
But you were there to help purge George.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were active in the campaign, then.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, I was absolutely not active politically.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, you had a radio program against . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, as a bureaucrat, civil servant, I couldn't take any political part in the campaign and didn't. But what I did was to go on the radio every morning and report what the New Deal was doing in Georgia and ended up every one of these with "Georgia Marches on with Roosevelt." But I never did take any position on Camp.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I wanted to ask you a little bit about the controversies that went on within the Southern Conference about whether communist party members should be involved in that whole thing.
CLARK FOREMAN:
That's a big subject, but I suppose there's no question to the fact that there were some communists in the Southern Conference. But it was always my position, and it was the position more or less that prevailed, that it would be more harmful to start up some kind of exclusion than would be to leave the communists in there and fight it out with them. We had to fight all the time, but we knew who they were and what the communist issues were. For instance, one case that was very public, was in the third conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was on winning the war. The South's part in winning the war. And the communists, at that time, were very eager to get the United States as a sort of second front. Because the Russians needed the help, in their campaign, of diverting the Germans away from them. So the Russian position was that the United States

Page 45
should start a second front. And the communists . . . I mean various people whom we knew were communist got up at this meeting in Nashville and suggested that we pass a resolution calling on Roosevelt right away to start a second front. Well, I took the position . . . I went up to the front and took the microphone . . . that this was not our job. That we didn't know when it was time to start a second front. We were not a military organization. And we could hardly advise Roosevelt when is the best time or isn't and what kind of military strategy would be best. We had to rely on him to do that. And our job was to line up the South, as much as possible, to help in winning the war by doing our job in the South effectively. And that prevailed. But that's an example of the fact that the communists were there. But it was much better to fight them in the open than it was to try to do what so many organizations did, say no communist or anybody that is a communist must be thrown out. Then you get immediately involved in heresy hunts and all the difficulties of trying to prove A, B and C were really communists, even though they denied they weren't. So we avoided that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In 1939 . . . I came across some correspondence between yourself and Frank Graham about whether communists should be barred from membership. At that time you were considering that as a possibility, I think, at least.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, it was a constant issue in the conference. Great pressure on us from the outside to bar them from membership and bar officers like the American Civil Liberties Union, I think, did and I think the American Jewish Congress and other organizations. Passed resolutions that no communists should hold office. But this meant holding hersey hunts, hearings, and deciding who was a communist and who wasn't. So although I would personally have been against any communist getting a

Page 46
job, I was not in favor of having a rule that would necessitate splitting up the conference.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How would you characterize Frank Graham's role in that controversy?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Christian, Frank was a benevolent influence and I think he was taken in. For instance, Alton lawrence was one of his proteges from the University of North Carolina and became very active in the Southern Conference and for a long while was—I think—one of the leaders of the youth group of it. Had Frank's blessing because he had assured Frank over in North Carolina that he wasn't a communist. And Frank had believed him and went ahead and supported him. So I think Frank was probably pretty bitter about the fact that Alton lawrence turned out to be a communist. I'm not sure that he ever knew it, but I suppose he did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You think he was too benevolent, too tolerant? Or do you think that style of his was helpful and important in the Conference.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Very helpful. I think Frank was a very fine man. Much more courageous than Howard Odum. Howard Odum would retreat into research whereas Frank Graham would meet the problem and try to do something about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How would you compare Graham with other southern liberals that were involved in the conference? How would you compare him with yourself, for example?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I would say he was a much better man that I was.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Better in what way?
CLARK FOREMAN:
More tolerant. Wiser. But now take [unknown] Will Alexander. Will Alexander was more active in first line fights than Frank was. But when Will Alexander would get in difficulty he would need to call people like Frank Graham to help him. And Frank would do it.

Page 47
JACQUELYN HALL:
You said that you would have been opposed to having . . . . Do you see the role that the communist party or communist party members played in the conference as being altogether a negative one?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Negative? No. For instance, the communist party has had a positive role in the South with respect to the Negro problem. They, from the beginning, have fought for Negro rights and fought, generally speaking, more consistently than any other group. One of my quarrels with the communist party is that they have a tendency to try to wreck any organization that they can't control. As far as the Southern Conference on Human Welfare was concerned, they couldn't control it but we were going along and doing the kind of things that they wanted done.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But they didn't try to wreck the organization, do you think?
CLARK FOREMAN:
In 1946 we had a conference in New Orleans and we had had the principle, since the first one in Birmingham in 1938, that we would never have a segregated meeting. The absence of segregation was almost a sacred principle in the Southern Conference. We had the municipal auditorium reserved in New Orleans for the conference. A few days before the conference the city notified us that we would have to segregate the meeting, that we couldn't have an unsegregated meeting there. Well, I said then we wouldn't have the meeting there, have it somewhere else. We took Carpenters' Hall. Had the meeting there. Well, the southern secretary of the communist party was very unhappy about this and came to me and tried to persuade me that we should give in on this and let the meeting be segregated, rather than give it up. Rather than give up the auditorium.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Opportunism. Not thinking clearly. Because I think it would have defeated our purposes a great deal and I absolutely refused

Page 48
to do it. But that was an example, you see . . . . I don't think he was trying to wreck us. I just think he was being an opportunist.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It seemed to me from looking at the papers that you had as much difficulty dealing with the socialist party people as you did with the communist party people.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, the socialists were difficult. Now, for instance, Roger Baldwin was working very close with the socialists. He and Frank McCallister and I've forgotten who the other socialists were. But you're right. You see at that time there was a big fight on in New York between the communists and the socialists. And we were reflecting that, or we were in the back waters of that fight. Roger Baldwin came to see me in Washington. I was the treasurer of the Southern Conference. He came to see me one day and said he was on the Marshall Foundation and he thought he could get $1,000 for us. He wanted to be sure that James Dombrowski would be kept as the secretary, administrator. So I told him well there wasn't any doubt about that because there was no opposition to Jim Dombrowski and it would be all right. So we got the $1,000. Then he came down to the Nashville conference and there the fight between the communists and the socialists was very prominent in various issues. I've forgotten which ones. But Roger was sitting there and he felt that Jim Dombrowski was at that time siding with the communists. Apparently he'd counted on him siding with the socialists. So he then insisted that we fire Jim Dombrowski [unknown] and he got Mrs Roosevelt steamed up. I wrote Mrs Roosevelt and told her that nobody had brought any charges against Jim Dombrowski to me except he had a Polish name. As far as I was concerned, that wasn't a basis for firing and I had no idea of doing it. And I wrote Roger and told him that he was going back on all his principles and trying to use the

Page 49
power of money to influence the organization and that I would never have agreed with him in the first place about keeping Jim Dombrowski if I had thought it was an issue. But since it was just like saying he'd give me $1,000 if I didn't cut off my right hand.
[End of November 19 interview.] [Beginning of November 20 interview.]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Yesterday when we stopped talking we were discussing the relationship between the socialists and the communists and the liberals and the labor people in the Southern Conference on Human Welfare. I wanted to go back to that just a little bit more. In the fall of 1939 you suggested, according to some letters of yours in the Southern Conference papers, that it might be a good idea to have people who came to the meetings of the Southern Conference register and indicate when they registered whether they were members of the communist party or not. Do you remember anything about that in 1939?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember, but if I did I would now regard it as a mistake.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why is that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Because anybody who was a communist wouldn't register as a communist. It seems to me now much more sensible to judge people on the way they acted, not on the badge that they wore or how they would sign in.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that a view that you came to have maybe more strongly in the '40s and '50s, after the McCarthy era started than you had had in the earlier time?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Maybe.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But you don't really remember your thoughts on the subject when the conference first began.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. I never was myself terrible anti-communist, but I never

Page 50
was worried about them. I spent five months in the Soviet Union . . . it wasn't five months either . . . '32-'33. Seven months in Moscow and around. And I didn't feel that they were the great menace that a lot of people did feel. And the ones over here that were carrying on about it a great deal, like those people, second fronters and so forth, they exposed themselves by what they were saying and doing. They weren't going to wear a badge or carry a flag or register as communists.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you remember John Thompson? Why did you oppose his selection as chairman of the Southern Conference?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't remember.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you think about him?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I thought he was a nice but rather weak fellow and I think he made a bad mistake after he became president to send out that letter with Howard Lee about the American peace mobilization.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you have real disagreements with John Thompson and Howard Lee?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, not that I remember. I liked him personally but I just thought he was kind of a weak fellow to succeed Frank Graham.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Weak in what sense?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Weak in the sense of having a strong program, standing up and fighting for it. Frank Graham always was very articulate about what he was working for. But John Thompson, though an eloquent speaker, never did seem to me to have anything very forceful to say.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In 1942 you were elected chairman of the Southern Conference. What made you decide to take on that job?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, they first tried to get Homer Rainey [unknown] to do it. Homer Rainey [unknown] accepted and then his board of trustees at Texas made him withdraw.

Page 51
So it was a kind of desperate situation that we were in. I guess I accepted because there didn't seem to be anybody else.
WILLIAM FINGER
The conference appeared strong right after that Nashville convention, didn't it? There was a lot of different groups represented at the Nashville conference in 1942. Is that how you remember that conference?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I thought it was very strong. It was also very factional. That was when the fights between the communists and socialists were at their peak.
JACQUELYN HALL:
We talked yesterday a little bit about Roger Baldwin. In fact I don't think we quite finished that story. Roger Baldwin came to the Nashville conference and thought that Jim Dombrowski was taking the side of the communists instead of the socialists and wanted him fired.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't know why Roger came at all. But he came down to Washington and looked me up. We had lunch together. And he said he could get $1,000 for us from this [unknown] Foundation. Marshall Foundation. If we kept Jim Dombrowski as administrator. Well, as I told you, we had no question about keeping Jim. So that was all right and we got the $1,000. Then he came to the conference and because of Frank McCallister and other socialists with whom Roger was very close at that time. They had the feeling that Jim was siding with the communists. I don't know that it was true or not. Anyway, they swung against Jim and Roger then wanted me to fire him and got Mrs Roosevelt to write me. What more did you want to ask me?
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you explain the fact that people like Roger Baldwin and Frank McCallister were launching this strong attack on the Southern Conference for being supposedly controlled by communists . . . at that time, when the communists, even the alleged communists, were no longer in positions

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of . . . of offices. Joseph Gelders was out. You were the chairman. It seems like it was a completely false . . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
It was because we didn't take the stand of excluding them, which is what they were trying to force us to do. They wanted us to exclude communists. It was a national sort of a trend among organizations. And they were trying to push us into that position. And we weren't about to do it. There never was any real support for it in the organization.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who were the people in the organization that kept that from happening?
CLARK FOREMAN:
As I say, I don't know that it was ever really proposed. But I would never have gone for it. Frank Graham, I suppose . . . he was out at that point, so he didn't . . . . But Virginia Durr certainly would not have gone for it. The active members of the executive committee were not for any kind of exclusion. Because as we thought then, and I feel strongly now, it would have been a very divisive thing to do and we were weak enough as it was. To start dividing our forces would have destroyed our organization, as many other organizations were destroyed, the same way.
JACQUELYN HALL:
The anti-communist socialists believed that the organization would be destroyed unless you excluded communists.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, that's what their contention was but it didn't happen that way.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Have you read Thomas Krueger's book on the Southern Conference, Promises To Keep? What do you think about it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. I wrote him and told him that I thought he was a little bit hipped on the communist issue, too much so. And he wrote back and said he thought so too. He agreed that he had been too much worried about the communists when he wrote the book. I sent that letter to Atlanta

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University. I don't know whether you saw it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you think the book was accurate except for that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well I don't remember any points in it that I thought were false. It was just that general attitude of fearing that the communists had more power than they did have.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In that book he describes you as being self-confident, aggressive and a little ruthless. What do you think about that? Do you remember that? Some people thought that, he said.
CLARK FOREMAN:
What do I think about it? Do I think I am self-confident? Aggressive? A little ruthless? Yes. Or was.
WILLIAM FINGER
Was that necessary to keep the organization alive and well in 1942?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. I think so. I think you can't be too namby-pamby and keep a big organization together.
WILLIAM FINGER
When you took on the leadership in 1942 did you have ambitions of building it into a stronger organization that—
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure.
WILLIAM FINGER
Where did you think it would go?
CLARK FOREMAN:
We were hoping that it would become a popular, mass membership sort of. We thought in terms of state committees. And then we organized various state committees. One committee for Georgia here, under Margaret Fisher. A committee for North Carolina under Mary Price. And various state committees which we hoped would be politically effective. And that came to bear in 1948, when they were politically ineffective. But if they had been properly organized, if we had really got going, we might have had a different situation in 1948 when we came out for Wallace.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I'm trying to understand what your political views were at this time. Krueger describes you as a deeply traditional American

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progressive. What does that mean to you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That's right. It means that I believe in the Bill of Rights and am devoted to it for everybody. As far as I'm concerned that's what it means. I don't know what he meant by it. But my attitude is that the Bill of Rights is there as the basis of American democracy and it's for everybody. Communists and socialists, black and white, everybody. And as soon as you start drawing lines and saying everybody but . . . you know. Everybody except. Then the whole thing is destroyed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When you wrote the report on economic conditions in the South you said that Roosevelt wanted you to write about the problems but not about the solutions. Not to suggest solutions. But when you became chairman of the Southern Conference, you were trying to pose solutions. What were those solutions? What did you think would be the answer to the South's problems?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Various ones. I can't go down the whole list now. But for the people to get together. Do away with discriminatory freight rates, for instance. Do away with segregation. And so forth. And that's what we had in mind when we had the meeting in Birmingham. Was to . . . a general approach. But what happened was that we had reserved the municipal auditorium for the meeting and people were coming in from all over the South, black and white. And we had no idea of discriminating or segregating and they were all going to be sitting there together. But at the last minute the mayor or the council told us we had to segregate. We objected and we were faced with the alternative of either calling off the meeting or bowing to the will of the city. Mrs Roosevelt, when she came in, she put her chair right in the aisle, so that she was neither on one side nor the other. That's what . . . my idea of what it should be. So we

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decided then and there that we would yield but that we would never again have a segregated meeting. And we never did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You didn't come out publicly strongly for integration, though—
CLARK FOREMAN:
That wasn't the idea. We didn't want to make that the chief issue. They made it the chief issue. That's the thing. The opposition made segregation the chief issue. What we were interested in was the whole economic picture, and we would have liked to have dealt with that. And the same thing happened later on in the Southern Regional Council. You see, when Odum started the Southern Regional Council, he came in with a big plan for the whole region, economically speaking. But right away it got caught up in the race question. Just doesn't seem to be possible to do anything in the South until you face the race question.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were blacks within the Southern Conference pushing the conference also to deal . . . focus more on the race question and not on economic problems?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't know that there was any distinction. The whole business of black power and all hadn't come up at that time. And there was no division as far as I knew.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for the strength that the Southern Conference gained during the war years?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Why do you say that it was stronger?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Well, I get that sense from Krueger's book, I suppose. It grew in numbers, in membership.
WILLIAM FINGER
Got more CIO support. The budget increased a lot.
CLARK FOREMAN:
That was one of the big things. That we got the support of labor for a while there. And then the whole communist issue

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sort of died down when we were fighting with Russia against Germany. We had a big meeting in Raleigh, for instance. First time they'd ever had an unsegregated meeting there in the city auditorium. But as far as I know there was no real controversy and no communist business in connection with it. It's true that when we got the help from the CIO it made a big difference in terms of organizing these committees, paying salaries and so forth. After the war, they got . . . well, somebody got to Phil Murray and got him away. Van Bittner was sent into the South and he did a real red-baiting job on us.
WILLIAM FINGER
Who do you think got to Phil Murray?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Catholic church. His father confessor told him if he wanted to get to heaven he better straighten out the CIO first. That's what I think. You asked me what I think. But I don't have any evidence to prove it. I didn't have any tape recording of the confession booth.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I want to talk about that whole thing with Van Bittner, but to go back a little bit to the earlier days. When you took the chairmanship of the Southern Conference and began to put so much time into it, did you think about moving back to the South and living in the South?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yes.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did you not do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Because I continued to work in Washington. My job was there. But I did buy land in Georgia. When I was down here in '38 working with the National Emergency Council I took a crash course in law and did even take the bar examinations. I failed them.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were you planning to do? Why did you take a crash course in law?
CLARK FOREMAN:
If I had come back, as a lawyer, I probably would have gone into politics in some way. If I could afford it. Could have afforded it.

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Had some kind of job that would make it possible.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You stayed in Washington. Were you then working in defense housing? What was your job . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
I went back in 1939. The defense housing was set up and I was asked to move from the power division to take over the job of organizing the division of defense housing. That became a really emergency kind of a job that absorbed a great deal of my attention and didn't leave me any left over time to think about politics.
JACQUELYN HALL:
And that's what you were doing while you were chairman of the Southern Conference. How did you have time to do both of those things at the same time?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, because I didn't have to devote a great deal of time to it, I suppose. I don't remember any conflicts on the subject. The only activity that I remember in those days is going down to Raleigh for that conference down there. Then when I went to Europe . . . . See, I went to Europe in '42 or '43, I'm not sure which. I guess it was '41. I went to Europe with the Navy department. Skipping here. I lost out with the defense housing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me what you did as director of defense housing and how you lost your position.
CLARK FOREMAN:
In defense housing we had the job of getting housing built for defense workers. We could operate directly in those places where there was no local housing authority. Where there was a local housing authority, that was done through Strauss, the administrator of the USHA. In Detroit, for instance . . . it was almost an exception . . . . There was a great demand for houses for Negroes in the defense plants there. I don't know why they didn't want to go through the housing authority, then through the USHA, but they came to us. As I remember it, we got the housing authority

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and the mayor to recommend a number of sites from which we chose one. On that site was to be built what later on became called the Sojourner Truth houses.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who suggested that name?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't know. I didn't have anything to do with that. That was all done locally. There was great opposition on the part of the Polish Catholics who lived nearest this site to having Negroes move in there. Although it was an industrial area and nobody lived close to it. But they objected, raised good deal of complaint through their Congressman and so forth. I took the position, well, this is the site that was recommended by the mayor and the local housing authority. And its not up to us in Washington to tell them they don't know what they're doing.
[unknown] The Congressman joined up with my enemies from the South—a good many of which I had accumulated by that time because of the Negro situation and because of the power situation—so that the Lanham Committee—so-called because the chairman was Cong. Lanham. He called over the representative of the head of the Federal Works Agency and told him that there wouldn't be any money for defense housing as long as Clark Foreman was the chairman of the division. John Carmody, if he had still been there, would have told him to go fly a kite, you know, and Secretary Ickes would have run them right out of the office, too. But by this time the war was on and it was a general there in charge. John Carmody had been moved to the Maritime Comm. who had been the head of the Federal Works Agency. The general gave in and he called me in and said "Look, when I took this job you offered to resign and I urged you to stay on. But now on the basis of this committee's action, I would like to accept your resignation." So I said okay. He said "I want you to stay on. I'd be glad to give you any other job that you think of in the agency." I said "Well, what did

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you have in mind?" He said "Post-war public works planning." I said "Well, the war is just started. We don't know whether there's going to be any postwar public works or not. I'd rather get in there and work to win the war than talk about post-war." So I went to work for the Navy. I was sent to England to work over there in the Admiralty. When that happened, I asked Tarleton [unknown] Collier, who had been the secretary in Kentucky, to take over as acting president. He did. So while I was in England for a year, Tarleton Collier was the president.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Who were your enemies in the South who brought pressure?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well the worst one was Cong. Boykin of Mobile, Alabama. He had urged me to appoint his brother as the custodian of one of the housing projects. I had him investigated and the report came back that he was a thoroughly unreliable scapegoat. So I wouldn't appoint him. This made Boykin furious, you see, and he set out to get me, so to speak. So he was very irate. But also Sen.George didn't bear any love for me because of the campaign in 1938 there. He had connections in the Civil Service Commission. Cong. Ramspeck had gone there and he was a close friend of George's. So there were a good many people who felt that I was a dangerous radical. There seems always to have been.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were also involved in trying to get creative, good architects to build these houses. Was that controversial?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, that was part of it. We had the idea that since we were doing this job ourselves, directly, we could get in the very best architects in the country to see whether they couldn't get up some good ideas. Usually the local housing authority had to work with politically powerful architects. One of the best, of course, was Frank Lloyd Wright and I wrote him and asked him if he wouldn't take on a job. He was reluctant at first but finally he agreed to do it. Sent him up to Massachusetts

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where there was to be a defense housing project. The mayor was delighted with Frank Lloyd Wright and he developed a plan. The Boston architects were very jealous. They wanted it. So they started putting pressure on me through their Congressman and even got the Attorney General, Biddle, called me up and urged me to accept a Boston architect and not put Frank Lloyd Wright in there. I thought that was absurd. These Boston architects were just hacks, just the kind we were trying to get away from. And Frank Lloyd Wright was one of the greatest architects of this world. If he was willing to do it, we should go ahead and do it. Well, as soon as I was fired C. F. Palmer, who was the housing coordinator of some sort, changed the project in Massachusetts from permanent housing to demountible housing, so it didn't require an architect at all. Just required pulling in these vans with houses already constructed.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So none of the defense housing was built by Frank Lloyd Wright.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. So Frank Lloyd Wright never built any defense housing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you feel about being fired?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I felt it was just one of the contingencies of trying to do what you believe in, you know. You always have to figure that you're not going to win every battle. My record with the Civil Service Commission was good. I had civil service status. My grades had always been perfect from the very first. Excellent, I guess, is what they call it. And this was right in the middle of the war and the government was constantly putting out notices that they needed executives to carry on the war and calling for people to come in. So I felt sure I could get another job. But very slow in coming about. The personnel director of the Federal Works Agency where I had been working before called me in one time and said "Clark, I've just been over to the Civil Service Commission to look into your situation to find out why they haven't offered you a job. And I find

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that in your files there are two things in there against you. One is they say you never got your Ph.D. in there at Columbia. The other is that you are Jewish and claim to be Christian." I said "Well, as far as the first one is concerned, it's easy enough to get a confirmation from Columbia. I had my Ph.D. at Columbia in 1932. As far as the second one is concerned, to my best knowledge all my ancestors have been Christian, but I'm not willing to fight on that anyway, right in the middle of a war against Hitler. I'm not even willing to make an issue of it. I don't care whether I'm Jewish or not." Just about that time a friend of mine who had been asked by the Navy department to get together a group of civilian scientists to advise the Navy asked me if I wouldn't join that group. So I went with them, without civil service standing at all.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You weren't a scientist.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was a social scientist.
JACQUELYN HALL:
During this time when you were working on defense housing, you were chairman of the Southern Conference, how much time did you devote to the conference? How much time did you spend in the South at meetings and conferences?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I really can't answer that question. Not a whole lot. I answered letters, went to meetings and so forth. But my regular working hours were with the government.
JACQUELYN HALL:
If you had come back to Georgia and gone into politics, what would you have done? Run for Congress?
CLARK FOREMAN:
If I had come back to Georgia in 1939?
JACQUELYN HALL:
If you had passed the bar exam would you have come back to Georgia?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't know. It depends on whether I could have made a living. I would have had to find some possibility of really getting some

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cash.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of political career were you thinking of?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I didn't get down to those fine points. [Laughter] I'm an opportunist by nature. I think I would have gone where ever I saw chance of a break through.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I had wondered before why you didn't go into politics.
CLARK FOREMAN:
One reason is money. Have to have a good backlog of money. Or you have to have supporters. And my father had told me, as a boy, that I had to chose whether I wanted to be an honest man or a politician. He'd just seen so many politicians who campaigned on an issue and got support and got elected on one issue and then the issue would change and he couldn't count on their support any more so he changed, too. In other words, this business of being honest was what he meant.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you agree with your father later on?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I do now.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In other words your family wouldn't have encouraged you to go into politics or supported you financially.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, they would discourage me. I don't know what you mean by my family. If you mean my father and my brothers, they would have been against it. My uncle Clark, who was the most successful political member of the family, he would have been violently against it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
That brings up another subject, of how your family viewed your activities, your conflicts with the southern power companies and your being accused of being a communist and your being attacked on the radio as a dangerous radical. How did that effect your Georgia family?
CLARK FOREMAN:
My immediate family—my father and mother and brothers—were always very loyal and unquestioning about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did they agree with you at all?

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CLARK FOREMAN:
No. Well, my father and mother were tolerant. I wouldn't say they agreed with me, but they agreed with me to the extent that it was my business and they weren't going to interfere. My uncle Clark always said that he and I were going in two different directions. And then when he died his son took over the Constitution [unknown]. Clark Howell, Jr. He became very hostile. As I told you, Ralph McGill ran that nasty column and I had to sue him. Did you know that I sued the Constitution? For libel and made Ralph McGill retract the column that he had printed. That was about 1943 or 4, I guess. Was it 1947?
JACQUELYN HALL:
Uhhuh, 1947. So you were suing your own uncle's newspaper.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was suing Ralph McGill, too.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why was Clark Howard Jr so violently opposed to you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
One thing, I think that it was a confusion, my name and his name and he felt somehow or other involved. That's why, after having us out for dinner that night, when we first came down here he and Margaret had Mairi and me for dinner with Ralph McGill and Ralph McGill's wife. And the next day he stopped using my name as Clark. From then on it was always Dr C. H. Foreman.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did he confront you personally with his differences or did he just treat the things that you were involved in in his editorials and in his newspapers in a very unfriendly, critical way?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't want to generalize about it. The main thing was that column that Ralph McGill wrote in which he said the Southern Conference was communist. And I took the position that when he said leadership that included me and that I had a right to sue. And I got a lawyer in Macon, Georgia, to sue. And they were sufficiently scared to settle it.
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE A]

[TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[START OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

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JACQUELYN HALL:
— attitude toward the Southern Conference and his political stance during that time in the light of his reputation now as a great liberal.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, Ralph McGill was over at the first meeting of the Southern Conference, but later on he became convinced that we were influenced by the communists. That's the only way I can account for it. In many ways, Ralph McGill was a very fine man and did good work. But he was all wrong on that score.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you surprised at all during the annual dinner the other night when you were being made a life fellow and Ralph McGill's name was also brought up as a great—
CLARK FOREMAN:
I wasn't surprised.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you think it was a little contradictory?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, Ralph McGill is a local hero in the fight and he was one of the founders of the Southern Regional Council. He came in when the Interracial Commission was being changed to the Southern Regional Council. He came in to give it respectability. He wasone of the people that broadened the scope, so to speak, of the Interracial Commission.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about the creation of the Southern Regional Council? It's always been hard for me to understand first of all why Will Alexander and Howard Odum didn't seem to have consulted with you at all before they started to set up an organization which seems to have been a competing organization, or one which had purposes that overlapped the purposes of the Southern Conference.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was on the board of the Interracial Commission at the time that it happened and we hashed it out. I remember a big black board out there and Howard Odum was drawing various designs about what was

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going to happen in the South. I think the thing was that Will Alexander was just getting very tired of what he was doing. Howard Odum came in with the idea of bringing in a lot more money and doing this on a bigger scale. Which developed, gradually.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What would have happened if Alexander had come into the Southern Conference and Howard Odum . . . they'd lent their contacts and respectability with foundations to the Southern Conference? Did you want them to do that, or try to encourage them to do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure, we wanted them. We gave some kind of citation. Thomas Jefferson Award to Will Alexander in 1940, I think it was, in Chattanooga for his outstanding work in the South. But there was no chance of getting Howard Odum in there. He was scared of his shadow. As I said, up until 1938 he was still a staunch Hooverite. Republican.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was it upsetting to you when this competing organization was formed?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. I never felt that. I felt the more organizations that are working on the situation the better. Each one has to do it in his own way. That's all right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were the differences between the Southern Regional Council and the Southern Conference in their tactics?
CLARK FOREMAN:
One big difference was that we came out from the very beginning against segregation in the Southern Conference. We had to because of that Birmingham situation. The Southern Regional Council, or Interracial Commission, hedged around for a long long time on that question and gradually came to it, I think someone said the other night, about 1951. But I remember one meeting of the executive committee of the Southern Regional Council when . . . in the '40s . . . when the YWCA came out against segregation and said there would be no more segregation in any of their

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cafeterias and so forth. And I proposed a resolution, in the executive committee, of congratulations to the YWCA. I thought well if we couldn't do it at least we could congratulate somebody else who would. And it passed without any opposition. But then I was asked to come out and speak to a class—one of the classes at Morehouse College. So I left the meeting and went out to speak to this class. When I came back I found out that somebody else, in my absence, had introduced a resolution nullifying mine and cancelling it out so that that was not passed. But that's how ticklish the segregation question was even into the '40s.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about economic issues?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, if you mean that . . . support . . . I suppose it was economic. But it was fear. The man who introduced the resolution nullifying mine was a Catholic priest from Savamah. Monsignor . . . something like that. Economics was not in his mind so much as respectability. But as far as the organization was concerned, if they had come out at that time against segregation it would have been much harder for them to raise money.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for the fact that the Southern Conference wasn't able to survive while the Southern Regional Council survived and prospered?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, the Southern Conference went down in '48 on the shoals of Wallace. It went all out in the Wallace campaign and when that was such a fiasco there was nothing for us to do but to fold up.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you think it was a mistake for the Southern Conference to get so involved in electoral politics in that particular campaign?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, in the sense that it was the end of the Southern Conference, maybe. But on the other hand it was the only thing that we could do at that time logically. Because that's what we had been building up to. Wallace came out with our program. Wallace was the first candidate

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for president to come to the South and speak to unsegregated meetings everywhere he went. He spoke to unsegregated meetings in every state in the South. It was a very valuable precedent because since then no other candidate for president has had segregated meetings. So if you say it is a mistake, it's just like saying to a woman it's a mistake to get pregnant if the baby dies. As I see it, there was nothing for us to do but to come out for Wallace. It was a logical part of our program. We were very lucky to have Wallace come out and sort of champion our cause.
JACQUELYN HALL:
I want to talk some more about the Progressive party campaign but maybe we should go back a little bit and keep going up chronologically. In 1943 you went to Black Mountain College to teach. How did that come about? How did you decide to do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
After the Nashville meeting in 1942 some students from Black Mountain College were at that conference in Nashville. They urged me to stop by Black Mountain College on my way back to Washington and see the college and speak there. Which I did. I was offered a job to come and teach at Black Mountain College, which I wasn't prepared to take because I was still planning to go into the Navy. After a year in London, working on the anti-submarine warfare, which was what I was doing, the Navy offered me the job of working, going over, analyzing the various ports of Japan to decide which ports were the ones that should be bombed by the United States. I didn't know at that time there would be the atomic bomb. But in any event, that didn't appeal to me. That wasn't something I wanted to do. So I said I didn't need to work there any longer. I wrote to Black Mountain College and told them that I would be interested now in teaching there. So I was invited to come back down to teach in 1942.
WILLIAM FINGER
You were one of several young faculty that had come to Black Mountain in recent years. Eric Bentley and Frederick Cohen, I think.

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CLARK FOREMAN:
They were both there when I got there.
WILLIAM FINGER
They were already there and then you came. You all formed kind of a group? A different section of the faculty compared to some of the older faculty members?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, there were some members of the faculty who were refuges from Germany. Al Biers was the chief one and a fellow named Erwin Straus. They looked upon us as radicals. As we were saying last night, militants and radicals. Hard to say what's what. We probably did have different ideas about what was going on. But the main thing at Black Mountain was that Ted Dreier, who started it, had established it so that he and Al Biers had permanent tenure. They could never be fired. Everybody else came on contract. But they also insisted on unanimity. This was supposedly a Friends [Quaker] concept of consensus. Ted Dreier lay very heavy emphasis on that. Well, it turned out to be a fraud because he and Albers could then block anything they didn't want. Because they had veto, so to speak, if you had to have unanimity. They could block it. And they could never be fired. Then came this girl, Frances de Graaff, who had had her contract just renewed. And because she approved of two of the girls going over to Fisk University for some conference and they were arrested on their way back for hitchhiking—which they weren't supposed to do—the older members of the faculty felt that somehow or other Frances had embarrassed the college and so they voted to fire her. Even though she had a valid contract for two more years. Eric Bentley and [unknown] Fritz Cohen and I and several others felt this was a pretty outrageous thing to do. And if they could do it to Frances of course they could do it to us and would have done it to us the next year. So we resigned.
WILLIAM FINGER
Have you read Martin Duberman's account of that? What did you think of it?

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CLARK FOREMAN:
I thought it was pretty good.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was it about Black Mountain that attracted you in the first place? Were you interested in educational innovation or in the communitarian aspects of the place?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, I was interested in education and in the freedom in which they worked and the fact that the students were allowed to have such initiative. The students were the ones who took the initiative in getting me there in the first place and getting me going. And I thought that was fine.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was it like to live there?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, it was like a summer camp but very informal and a little bit detached from life . . . from the rest of life. A little bit too idyllic in a sense for living.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you like the communal aspect of it? The intense personal relationships.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I didn't like eating together in the dining hall. I thought that the privacy of our own home was much more desirable. I don't know of any other communal aspects . . . . We had our own house and we had our own meals there, later. But the communal aspects, I don't know what you mean.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did the men help take care of the children and cook and things like that? As well as the women.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Did I help . . . [Laughter] Sure, always. Before and after Black Mountain but my wife says I'm not geared to housework.
WILLIAM FINGER
But the Black Mountain environment didn't encourage sharing of the child rearing responsibilities.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. I don't think so.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When you went there in the first place did you think you could

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push the school toward becoming an integrated school?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, I didn't have any such idea. Once I was there . . . it came up sort of gradually as to why we didn't have Negro students. I was in favor of it and I think that Frances deGraff and Eric Bentley were in favor of it too, the same. But the older ones were frightened. They were frightened that we were going to be persecuted, you see. And they had been through very hard times in Germany and they had reason to be frightened, I suppose. We were going to antagonize the community by doing something . . . .
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you all resigned over Frances de Graaff's firing?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you plan to do next?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I was already doing something else. I was in New York working on the third term for Franklin Roosevelt. CIO Political Action Committee. I'd already started working with them. I got leave of absence for the summer to work with the CIO Political Action Committee. So I'd gone up to New York and came back down from New York to attend the meeting that had to do with Frances de Graaff's firing.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that the only reason you resigned or were you ready to leave and do something else?
CLARK FOREMAN:
That was the main reason to resign, because I wouldn't have resigned if they hadn't acted unfairly. But the main thing that got under my skin was to find that they had been deceiving us all the time. See, we were supposed to be a democratic organization, all of us in there together on the same basis. And here Ted Dreier and Albers had reserved kind of a major status.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What about the plan that you had to start another college in Washington? What was that all about?

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CLARK FOREMAN:
For a while there I thought about the possibility of starting another college, Roosevelt College. We were thinking about, talking about Harper's Ferry as a place, a good place to start a kind of a college that would be the right thing. But I'm awful glad we didn't do it because the money situation, again, would have got us down. Plus McCarthy. He came along soon afterwards.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did some people have expectations, like Cohen, that the school was going to begin?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, I don't think so.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What would this college have been like? What would have been a good college?
CLARK FOREMAN:
What would Roosevelt College have been like if we had founded it? I can't answer that kind of question. It depends on who gets there and what they decide.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But what did you want? What was your ideal?
CLARK FOREMAN:
What I would like to have had would have been a good college that would have had the same kind of general approach to students that Black Mountain College had but at the same time be truly democratic and be close enough to Washington so that it would be a part of the life of the country. Not be out in the woods, where Black Mountain College was.
JACQUELYN HALL:
When you were at Black Mountain did you have any contact with the Southern Summer School for Women Workers in Asheville?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You never heard of it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, not that I know of.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was a workers education school outside of Asheville. There doesn't seem to have been any contact between it and Black Mountain. Seems very odd. Did you know Louise McLaren?

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CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure, I knew her.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Through the Southern Conference?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
She was head of this summer school for women workers.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Organizationally we had no connection.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you left Black Mountain, went to Washington, thought about starting the school, but what? couldn't raise enough money to do it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well it really never got off the ground. It was just an idea. I corresponded with Will Alexander about it, but no offer came through with a million dollars, which was what it would take.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you became director then of National Citizens PAC, right?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I was in New York working for the CIO Political Action Committee and Sidney Hillman asked me if I wouldn't organize the National Citizens Political Action Committee, which was to be a kind of parallel organization with the CIO Political Action Committee except it would be not labor but people generally, national citizens.
WILLIAM FINGER
And you did that for several years.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. Through the election of '44 and then in '45 I became full time president of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare, on salary.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me something about your work with National Citizens PAC. What did you do? How much autonomy did you have?
CLARK FOREMAN:
The main job there was to organize the committee. So I had to find people all over the country who would be members of the national committee and then get them together for meetings and so forth. Try to work with the CIO PAC. Trying to get Roosevelt elected.
WILLIAM FINGER
You built strong ties with the CIO during that year, with Sidney Hillman.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. Phill Murray.

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WILLIAM FINGER
And that was helpful in raising money for the Southern Conference.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was that one of the reasons that you went to work for them? In order to build institutional ties between the labor movement and the Southern Conference? Is that one of your things you were trying to do?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure. We were always trying to broaden the base and get more and more support for the Southern Conference. And to get organized labor would have been one of the biggest things we could have done. And for a while there we thought we had it. But Phil Murray, who got Jim Carey, who was the secretary, to introduce a resolution into the convention of the CIO saying that the Southern Conference for Human Welfare was the natural spearhead for liberal action in the South. It passed the CIO. On the basis of that resolution a lot of the unions gave us money, for a year or two. Til Van Bittner cancelled it all out.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you know Van Bittner, did you deal with him before his attack on the Southern Conference?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I knew vaguely but I didnt deal with him, no.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for his opposition?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, I think the socialists got to him. And Phil Murray had weakened by that time.
WILLIAM FINGER
He did write a letter apologizing—
CLARK FOREMAN:
[unknown] he didn't really mean it. The damage had been done. It's always been my feeling, although I've never been able to prove it, that Van Bittner came down here to Atlanta and talked to my cousin, Clark Howell, who was, at that time, very much involved with labor problems himself at the Constitution. And Van Bittner was persuaded by Clark that I was a communist, or at least a dangerous person.

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WILLIAM FINGER
The CIO was being red-baited from the beginning by the AFL. They both announced southern organizing drives in 1946. Was Van Bittner compromising himself in different ways to try to build a southern organizing drive? What was he trying to do? Why would he come to Atlanta at all?
CLARK FOREMAN:
He was . . . Operation Dixie. That's what they called it. He was going to come down here and organize the unorganized. But why Van Bittner would go to the Constitution and talk to Clark Howell—that's a different problem.
WILLIAM FINGER
Well you thought operation Dixie was a good idea.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure. See, we had [gone?] into the CIO situation from the beginning . . . . One of the reasons for starting the Southern Conference on Human Welfare was to help the CIO organize. And we did a big job in Alabama and other places helping the CIO. But by the end of the war they had forgotten about this and they were intent on becoming respectable.
WILLIAM FINGER
Do you think the CIO in the war years, when they cooperated with the war labor board in no-strike pledges and things like that . . . . On the one hand, they had gained a lot of members during the war years. But by those compromises they did begin to build more credibility.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Maybe.
WILLIAM FINGER
Were you involved with labor to that degree?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No, I didn't know that . . . to that extent.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It was really a shock to you when labor support started falling away after the war.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I was very shocked by Van Bittner's statement, yeah.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you know other labor figures? George Baldanzi, who took over for Van Bittner.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you continue to try to support Operation Dixie after Van

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Bittner's . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
We didn't become anti-labor, if that's what you mean. No.
WILLIAM FINGER
I just mean did you continue to try to support the drives, their campaigns.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. In the states. The state committees did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How would you describe the differences between yourself and Jim Dombrowski?
CLARK FOREMAN:
There are a great many differences between Jim Dombrowski and myself. One thing is that Jim is a more deeply religious figure than I am and very devoted christian socialist. And always has been. And I'm neither christian nor socialist.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What are you?
CLARK FOREMAN:
An agnostic. An agnostic who believes firmly in the Bill of Rights.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Were you ever a christian socialist? In your youth?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. Never was a christian socialist or a communist. [Interruption on tape.]
JACQUELYN HALL:
I wanted to ask you about the controversy over Dombrowski's role in the Southern Conference. The incident in which the board removed him from being administrator for both the Southern Conference and SCEF and then re-instated him and that whole thing. What was that about?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I think the answer on that is . . . . A number of us felt that Jim did not have the broad political organizing ability that was required in a mass organization for political purposes. And at the end of the '46 conference in New Orleans it was proposed that we have separate administrators for the conference and the educational fund. The educational fund was a tax deductable educational organization. Jim seemed to be ideally suited for that, but not for the political activity that needed

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to be done. So that was passed by the board. It started a big controversy because Lucy Mason, who was there and voted for this, later on, I think, felt that Branson Price was not the person to head up the political activity but that Margaret Fisher should have been. Anyway, Margaret Fisher and Jim Dombrowski got together and they were very irate about the situation.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was he there at the meeting in New Orleans?
CLARK FOREMAN:
He was there, but not at the meeting of the committee.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So what happened?
CLARK FOREMAN:
[unknown] went to see Aubrey Williams. Got him to agree. Aubrey felt that he had somehow or another been cheated by not knowing that there was going to be a meeting of the executive committee at the end of the conference. Although there always had been at the end of the conference. It was announced . . . he just couldn't stay.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What was Lucy Randolph Macon's objection to Branson Price?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I think the main thing was that she felt that Margaret Fisher was a superhuman person. She felt that Margaret Fisher was the person to do the job and she really felt that Margaret Fisher should have my job.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't you want Margaret Fisher to have the job?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, Margaret and I never got along too well together. She and Lucy Mason had before, had earlier, tried to get Jim Dombrowski removed from his job. [With the idea that Margaret would have taken it over.]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why didn't you get along with Margaret Fisher?
CLARK FOREMAN:
We just had different kinds of natures. Margaret was very dominating and I guess I'm very dominating.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Branson Price was chairman of the New York committee. If she

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had taken over . . . . If she had taken over the administrative work, that would have made the Southern Conference . . . . The Southern Conference would have been run out of New York and Washington pretty much.
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. She was a North Carolina girl and if she had become the administrator of the Southern Conference, she would have functioned out of New Orleans. The New York office would have been run by somebody else to raise the money up there.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Dombrowski had devoted a whole lot of his . . . he had been the major person, I assume, through the years since 1942 who had been on the scene working full time to try to build the Southern Conference. Is that right?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah.
JACQUELYN HALL:
It seems understandable why he would be very irate at being removed from that, his position.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Oh, it's understandable. That doesn't mean it wasn't right.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did you see his contribution to building the conference in previous years?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Jim worked much better working with people, individually, and sort of building up a slow organization like the Southern Conference Educational Fund than he would have been to get out and organize a big, mass organization.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Was he opposed to the conference moving into political action?
CLARK FOREMAN:
No. Wasn't opposed to it, but he just didn't do much about it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So how was that whole thing resolved?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, it got very complicated. This is one of the reasons that the organization finally died in '48. [There was] a big fight on in

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the committee about this and it was decided that Edmonia Grant should be the head of the Southern Conference Education Fund. But she was very incompetent, didn't do a very good job and didn't last very long.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Dombrowski then moved over to be head of SCEF.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah, he went ahead with that.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why did he give in and do that?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Why did he? You have to ask him. I don't know. He just accepted it as a logical thing, I suppose. Logical thing to do. It was no disgrace. Two different organizations. And it was a clear division of activities. And he could give his whole time to SCEF and somebody else should have given their whole time to organize politically. And if they had then we would have been in better shape to do something more in '48 when Wallace ran.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You said that the state organizations, if they had been well organized, you might have been able to do better in the '48 campaign. Why weren't the states better organized? What went wrong?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Didn't have organizational ability. Margaret Fisher did a pretty good job here in Georgia. Mary Price did a fair job in North Carolina. I've forgotten the name of the woman in Virginia.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me about your involvement in the campaign. That must have been quite an experience, campaigning for Wallace in the South.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, we passed a resolution endorsing Wallace. The executive committee did. And this antagonized a number of our contributors in New York, who had previously given money. Also antagonized Aubrey Williams. So, there was some kind of controversy there—
[END OF TAPE 2, SIDE B]

[TAPE 3, SIDE A]

[START OF TAPE 3, SIDE A]
JACQUELYN HALL:
You resigned.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I resigned both jobs.
JACQUELYN HALL:
In order to work full time in the Wallace campaign?

Page 79
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, in order to placate the situation. If Aubrey thought he could take it on and do a better job, let him do it.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How were you supporting yourself then?
CLARK FOREMAN:
About that time . . . I had been working on an idea of having a theatre in Washington which would admit Negroes. At that time there was no theatre in Washington where Negroes could go. The National Theatre, which had before been a pretty good theatre, had had to close down because Actors Equity would not appear there as long as it was a segregated audience, as long as Negroes were not admitted into the audience. So they closed down. So Washington not only had no theatre for Negroes, but it had no theatre period. The city of Washington had no theatre whatsoever. The theatre gave as its reason the fact that the chief of police had said it would be dangerous to admit Negroes into the audience. So we hit upon the idea of challenging this whole situation by starting a theatre, movie theatre, which would not be segregated. And the Dupont Theatre was in a building which a friend of mine named Danny Weitzman owned. He asked me if I would manage it. So I managed the theatre, the Dupont theatre and we opened it up . . . had no segregation. And that way we broke down the whole segregation pattern in Washington. From then on, movies and theatres have been unsegregated.
JACQUELYN HALL:
So you were managing the theatre while you were working in the Wallace campaign?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yep.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What did you do in the Wallace campaign?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Largely make speeches and appeal for money.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you travel in the South?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Yeah. I made a tour with Paul Robeson, raising money. He was singing and I was raising money. We went to Winston-Salem, Memphis.

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WILLIAM FINGER
Were there integrated facilities where you traveled? On trains and . . .
CLARK FOREMAN:
Sure. Everywhere we went.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What kind of audiences did you have and how did they react?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, it varied. We had different experiences. Maybe I should say . . . the year before Wallace went on a tour in the South for the Southern Conference on Human Welfare. That was in '47. He started the tour in Norfolk, Virginia. We had rented the hall there, or the committee for Virginia had rented an auditorium in Norfolk, city auditorium, for this meeting. When I got there the audience was all in and Negroes and whites were all mixed up together. But the police had then just said that they had to divide. The Negroes had all to sit on one side and the white people on the other. I came in the back of the theatre and overheard this hassle going on between the police and the people who were handling the concert, handling the meeting. The police just said they had to do it. They had police established on the wings of the stage, so that nobody could go there until the audience was segregated. I walked down the center aisle and noticed that there was a flight of stairs across the orchestra pit and I walked up those stairs and on to the platform and called the meeting to order and announced that the police had said that we couldn't have a meeting unless it was [unknown] segregated. [unknown] We thought this would be in violation of the constitution and had no idea of segregating the meeting and if the police broke it up we'd just go outside and have an unsegregated meeting outside. Whereupon I called on Virginia Durr to come up and preside. She was the chairman of the committee for Virginia. So I said would Mrs. Durr plese come up now and take over the meeting. She came up the same way, down the middle aisle. When she got up she said "What shall we do." I said "Well, first thing, get them to sing the Star

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Spangled Banner. So she got them to sing all the verses of the Star Spangled Banner—it got pretty weak at the end. And then she said "Now what should we do?" "Get somebody to pray." She recognized a preacher down in the audience so she called on him to say a prayer and he got up and said a long prayer. And still Wallace hadn't come. So we didn't know what we were going to do. After a while Wallace came and he came down the middle aisle, too, and walked right on up on the stage and made his speech. Nothing happened except the next day the papers came out with a big story that the Southern Conference for Human Welfare had nullified the segregation act of the state of Virginia. The act that all public meetings had to be segregated. And that that no longer existed. This was the kind of thing that went on. Wallace spoke in every one of the southern states and then later on Paul Robeson and I went around. Paul Robeson had some interesting experiences, too. He spoke in Tampa and there were some northern admirers of his that lived in St Petersburg—which is close to Tampa—and they asked him to stay over there in their house. Which he did. And the man's business was absolutely ruined. He had to move away. But we were going from Tampa to Charleston then back to Savannah. So I was traveling with Paul and his accompanist, Lawrence Brown. I had made arrangements for a stateroom for Paul everywhere. Paul and Lawrence Brown were to have a stateroom. [unknown] When I got down to the station in Tampa I found out that the Pullman train didn't come right into Tampa but it was a couple of hours out. You had to go on a day coach for a couple of hours to get to the Pullman train. So that was a question of daycoach for whites and daycoach for blacks. I decided I'd stay back with them and did. The conductor finally came by and he said to me "You've got to move up to the white [unknown] car." I said "Why?" "Because you're white. This is segregated. It's for colored people back here." I said "Well have you ever seen

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Walter [unknown] White?" "No, why?" "Well, he's whiter than I am and he's head of the NAACP. Got blue eyes, light hair." And he said "Well, are you colored?" And I said "Yes." On the theory that nobody's white, you know. So he said "Well, I'll be goddamned." And walked off.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Tell me something about Henry Wallace. What was Henry Wallace like? What did you think of him as a politician? As a person and a politician.
CLARK FOREMAN:
He was a very nice, genial dreamy kind of a guy. I don't want to try to get into a characterization of Henry Wallace. I told you the other day about my ankle [unknown]. He's primarily interested, I think, in agriculture. Except that in the campaign we could not get him to talk about agriculture. He wanted to talk all the time about peace. But my feeling in general in terms of the campaign is that he made a big contribution in two main issues. One on peace and the other on segregation. By going through the whole South and not speaking to segregated meetings, I think he made a big, big contribution here. But the day before he announced that he was going to be a candidate I was in Chicago at dinner with him. Mrs. Emmons Blaine gave a dinner for Henry Wallace and I was there. And Marshall Field, who was the head of, editor of the Sun papers, had just come back from Washington. He was sitting next to me and he said that in Washington he had been told by the top leadership of the Army and the Navy to prepare his readers for war. It doesn't seem to be any real doubt now that that was the intention of the military at that time. The optimum time for us to go to war with Russia. We had the atomic bomb and they didn't. So they were going to push for a third world war right then. Wallace in coming out and coming out strong on the peace issue, forced Truman to turn right around on that and I believe headed off the third world war. So that's more important than what Wallace's idiocyncracies

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were.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How do you account for the violent reaction against Wallace in that campaign? Extreme opposition. Violence against his campaigners and so on. Were you surprised at how reactionary the response to his campaign was?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I was surprised at it but it doesn't seem to me that it's hard to account for in terms of the feeling that had been engendered against him as being a disrupter. Take McGovern, the last campaign. You can see that very much the same kind of thing was going on there. Wallace was speaking at a tougher time and taking a harder line. [Interruption.]
CLARK FOREMAN:
Asked me whether I thought it was true that I was self-confident, arrogant and slightly ruthless. And I think yes it was true.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
I think you depicted yourself, though, without making allowance for the fact that you were very kind. You weren't entirely ruthless, unnecessarily. I think that you felt that ruthlessness was often necessary. Then there was a thing you didn't tell about the Sojourner Truth project. When the money, the [unknown] was refused if they didn't fire you, I remember that you said that you felt that one man couldn't stand in the way of the defense effort and you resigned. But it was . . . the Negroes rose up . . . and the Negro Pittsburgh Courier had a streamer across the top of their paper saying, "Foreman Loses Head For Us. What Are We Going To Do About It?" Well, that was because they tried to sign over the Sojourner Truth project to be a white project and Clark wouldn't allow that over his signature. I think that was a pretty important story. Because the Negro leaders then went to the White House to protest Clark's firing and his resignation. And it was then that Mrs Roosevelt and Frances Perkins held the

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meeting asking you to do something which you thought was a useless job at the moment when there was something to be done for the war effort. But I think that it's important to know that the Negroes knew that you had refused to give up their project.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Mairi's right about that. What they wanted to do . . . The project had been designed for Negroes, but under pressure the change had been made that they would give it to whites, white people instead of Negroes. Then the Negroes objected. But by that time the white people had been already moved in. So they had to move the white people out and that's when they had the big, bloody riots. Sojourner Truth race riots. Really, it was a question of not being able to make up their minds. Switching back and forth which caused the trouble. Not being ruthless, see.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
There was another thing that you neglected to say. You did draw some of the big architects in in defense housing. It wasn't only Frank Lloyd Wright. Frank Lloyd Wright said that he only did the project because Clark convinced him that he should do it. And he liked Clark and he felt he could work for Clark. But he had no use for the government as a whole. But Bill Wurster built Vellajo and that was one that was in California. And didn't Hugh Hutchins, didn't he do a project? Hugh Stubbins.
CLARK FOREMAN:
In Massachusetts. Gropius and Breuer did.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
So you did influence . . . somehow or another there was influence on good architecture that went into the low cost housing there that I thought would be interesting and should be brought out. There was another thing that the Civil Service Commission had against you and that was that Clark insisted on his Negro maid sitting at the table with us.

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CLARK FOREMAN:
No, that wasn't the Civil Service.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Was that just a gossipy thing that went around? You lost a job on account of it though.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Well, Will Alexander told me one time that he had tried to persuade the man who succeeded [unknown] Baldwin as head of Farm Security Administration—I've forgotten his name now. He told him that I was a little unpredictable. He said "Well, what do you mean?" He said "Well, he insists on his Negro cook eating at the table." Which of course was an absolute story, a lie. I never would insist on anybody eating at the table, white or black. What we figured out on that, he said he got it from our doctor. I went to see the doctor and asked him and he said that the Negro cook had told him that she wanted another job because we did it. The only thing we could figure out on that was that when . . . we brought this girl up from North Carolina . . . we had her examined and she had syphilis. So we insisted on her going to the doctor for treatments. So that was why she was going there. We went away on a trip for two or three weeks and we got a New England friend to stay there and [unknown] with the children. She may have asked the cook to sit at the table. We don't know whether she did or not. We know that we didn't.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
That wasn't such an important thing, but the other was. At the time in between the job after you resigned . . . when was it that you were full time working on the Southern Conference? You were away for three weeks at a time when we lived at the 21st Street house in Washington. You would be in the South traveling for long periods of time. That was just before the Dupont Theatre, wasn't it?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I guess it was.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
There was a time when you were really working very much

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more entirely on the Southern Conference. Then Uncle Clark, although he thought you were going in a different direction . . . your Uncle Clark always admired you and I think that he thought the kind of work you were doing had to be done.
CLARK FOREMAN:
That's what you say.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
You did bring Negroes in to Black Mountain College.
CLARK FOREMAN:
One.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, didn't you have a debating team or some team come from Fisk and then that was why Annie and the other girl went over there?
CLARK FOREMAN:
We gotone girl in for the summer conference.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
But you were always trying to bring Negroes in at that time, I thought.
CLARK FOREMAN:
The question that Jackie asked was did I go down there with that intention and I did not. It was only when I got down there and faced the situation that I saw that it wasn't living up to what it should be that I felt we ought to do something about it.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Did you remember that we had lived in New York for a whole year after we left Black Mountain? We came directly to New York, not to Washington. We lived in Park Avenue and took the Cohens into the house with us. That was straight from Black Mountain.
JACQUELYN HALL:
What were you doing during that year?
CLARK FOREMAN:
Working for the [CIO] PAC.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
That was 1943-4. A cute thing in connection with the story with Robeson. When Paul and Lawrence Brown were discussing with Clark what he was going to do if they did . . . they thought that he was going to have trouble. Lawrence said "Well, Clark, what are you going to do if they come and challenge your right to sit here with us?" And

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Clark said "Well, I'll stand on my constitutional rights." They said "Clark, please don't stand on your constitutional rights when you're with us." But then sure enough, the rest of the story was he did.
JACQUELYN HALL:
[unknown]
JACQUELYN HALL:
Mairi, could I ask you a question? When you married Clark you were woman's editor of the Toronto Daily Star. I know this would be a long story, to get into your life and activities, too, but fairly briefly can you tell me something about how you . . . did you go on with your career in any way . . . .
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Oh, the Star used to ask me to write stories, but I think I only wrote one or two things back. I became so involved in Washington life. I thought that . . . I was too involved. I went to art school the first year. I wanted to study painting. And there was a perfectly wonderful opportunity at the Phillips Art Gallery Art School. So I went and studied painting. And then I started to have a family. After all, I was over 30. I had to get busy having a family. And the life in Washington was very busy. Roped you in. I went in to working, oh, for the national symphony and on the public school committee and various other things.
WILLIAM FINGER
Did you start one of the first integrated public schools in Washington?
MAIRI FOREMAN:
I was always given credit for being . . . but I really didn't have the idea for that school. I think that my friend Agnes Engnes Inglis said that I had made her do it or something ridiculous, which wasn't so. I remember having a conversation with her and saying that there should be a school started and that it should start right down in the lowest grades so that there wouldn't be as much feeling about it. The children would integrate more happily. And then we went to New York to live for a year. When I came back Ag said "Well, you

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told me to do it, and I did." But I don't remember actually. I was a trustee of the school.
CLARK FOREMAN:
But she was in charge of a radio women's program.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Also, I took over the children's art center from the WPA project. I insisted on running that only on a desegregated basis. And it worked very, very well.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You had a radio show?
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, I did a couple of programs for women for WQQW. That was a little later.
CLARK FOREMAN:
[In that day?] that was quite a job.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, I know.
WILLIAM FINGER
A show every day?
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, I had an interview program for ten minutes and five minutes of news at the end of it. But I became a little bit too radical for the station I think. I was approached by both the unions to belong and I was very eager to be a member of the union. The management got wind of it and so they promoted me to be the personnel manager. [Laughter] I never got to be a member of the union, which was pretty hard.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You were raising a family while Clark was doing all these different things, fairly unconventional things. What kind of effect was his career and his reform activities having on the children?
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Well, that's a very good question, because our children had Negro friends, right from the time that they were old enough to have any friends. And several incidents took place with our children where they stood up, against the authorities. One was in the public playground in Washington. I took these children—Sheila and Joanie and Geno, who was Hugh then—and two or three little Negro friends from our neighborhood

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—our neighbors—and I asked them to wait in the playground on R Street, I think it was, while I went to the Co-op. And when I came back all this little string of children were standing on the side walk outside. I said "Why are you out here? Why aren't you inside?" "The teacher wouldn't let us come in." I said "WHy?" "Because Shirley and Clarence were with us." I said "Well, what did you do, dear?" And Sheila said "If they leave, we leave." Sheila was really just a little girl. And I went right in to the teacher and I became a member of the recreational council, which met regularly, so I was able to use a little bit of drag there to keep . . . . I used to take art from children at the Art Center out to one of the houses on the playground on the palisades, to try to break through there. Because there were so many Negro children in that area who couldn't get to the art center. And there was quite a furor about that at first, but finally . . . . First of all, they made us have the class outside. But then one day a heavy rain came and we moved in. And I said I thought it was much more sensible and why didn't we just keep on doing it. After the first few times, the whole thing was broken. The prejudice was broken. Oh, there were many incidents with the children where they thought the Negro children were the bravest people they ever knew. The children would throw stones at Sheila because she played with Negro children. One day she had to go to the store for me, and she said "Well, I have to go and get Shirley to go with me." I said "Oh, really?" She said "Yes, because Shirley's the bravest person I know"—she was the Negro child—"and they won't throw stones at us if Shirley's with us." The teacher in the school told Sheila one day that she would not behave the way she did unless she played with Negro children and Sheila came right home and said "Now, mother, what are you going to do about that?" So I telephoned the teacher

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right away and she denied it. I said "Well, I'm afraid I cannot believe you because my daughter is right here with me and I just think that she's telling me the truth. I want to know why would you say such a thing. It's a terrible thing to say." And we had a little conversation about it. I pressed her and she said "Well, maybe I said something, but not that." And Sheila said "Yes she did" and she could hear it all the way through the telephone. But the children met with a good deal of prejudice themselves. Those are a few of the things, but they happened every little while.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did any of them go on to become politically active in their own right?
MAIRI FOREMAN:
Oh, they're all very politically oriented.
CLARK FOREMAN:
Joanie, the younger one . . . . When we went to New York she went to a public school in New York. She and Eskimo were the only non-Jewish children in the class. One day the teacher said—
MAIRI FOREMAN:
About Rene paying his money? Well, there was a little French boy and the teacher was collecting the money for whatever the community organization, the school . . . they have some little fee that they pay for class expenses. The teacher went around the class and put down who had paid and she came to the little French boy, Rene, and she said "Why haven't you paid your quarter?" Or "your 15 cents." And he said "My father didn't have it to give me." "Well, Rene, then you just can't be a member of this—" Oh, Joanie's hand shot up and she said "That's not fair." She stood up and said "We'll all contribute for Rene." And the teacher said "Well, that's not the same, that's not the same. I think that Rene should get the money. He just didn't convince his father of theimportance of this." Well, really, they were very poor people and they didn't have the money. So the next day, I think

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it was, Rene's money turned up and the teacher said "Well, that won't do. I won't accept that." And Joanie said "Well, you won't know." [Laughter] But they had many clashes at school because they were radicals. They were known. Because of Clark's position. And I usually took a rather strong position in the PTAs and I was generally considered too radical for the PTAs. I introduced sex education into the John Quincy Adams school in Washington, D.C.
CLARK FOREMAN:
You were radical. My son was eight years old at the time that MacArthur came back from Wake Island or where ever it was that Truman fired him. Each member of the class had to say one letter of . . . they were going to spell MacArthur's name out in front of the class. And each child had to say something for each letter. So when it got to T, my son said "T is for Truman, whose advice he would not heed." Well, Joanie wouldn't go . . . the whole school in her class was given the opportunity to go over to 5th Ave and watch the parade if they wanted to, but she wouldn't go.
MAIRI FOREMAN:
The other thing was, once I was called up at the John Quincy Adams school—which later the principal became one of my very dearest friends and she came to the Wallace meetings and asked me to get tickets for her but not to tell anybody. Florence Cornell. She called me up to the school one day because when Geno, Hugh, was in the first grade they had all been asked to write an essay. He wrote an essay that had no bearing on the little books that they'd been reading and she said that she was disturbed by this because she thought that he was getting embued in politics and that we were teaching him about politics and things of that kind too early. I said I'd come up and see. She said "I want you to come up and talk to the teacher." Miss Michaelson and Mrs Cornell and I met and some of the other children's essays were

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read. One was about Mac and Muff, you know, the dogs that play together. But then she said "Now read Hugh's." And Hugh's said "I'm against the Marshall Plan. It is a bad plan. My father has a conference. And they are for peace." [Laughter] Something like that. The End. It was only a short essay. "Mrs Foreman, do you think it's wise that you should discuss politics?" I said "Well, we don't. But probably a lot of telephone conversations going on. But my husband is the president of the Southern Conference for Human Welfare and politics is something that's in our household all the time. The children are just reflecting what goes on." "Well, I'm not so sure about that." But then when it came to the sex education she called me in and she said "Mrs Foreman, I think this is kind of dangerous. You know, a lot of our teachers are not married." [Laughter] But we did it. We did it and we did it the right way, I think.
That was another thing that the children had to suffer. Oh well, it went on and on. They were always being called communists. Mrs Cornell called them in at that time of the Wallace campaign. Mrs Cornell called the children in and said to them—because they wore Wallace buttons to school and the other children would jerk them off them and take them away from them and then they would turn up the next day with a new Wallace button. So Mrs Cornell called them into the office and she said "You children are having a hard time, aren't you?" They said, well, yes, they were. And she said "Because you're for Henry Wallace." And they said yes. And she said "Well, I want you to know that Mrs Cornell is for Wallace and I'm having a hard time, too. But I think it will be worth it." And you know, you just can't imagine any public school teacher going out on a limb like that. The principal. She took me to a board of education meeting about desegregating the schools in Washington because she thought I might speak out. Because the John Quincy Adams School was losing white

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children because there were more Negro children coming in in the area. So I went with her and we were given a chart and shown that the John Quincy Adams school would be the ideal thing to have the Americanization classes. The adult classes. It was being less and less used for school purposes. The classes were getting smaller. I said I wanted to ask why the classes were getting smaller. Well, because there are more Negroes in the neighborhood and the white people were taking their children and putting them into private schools. I was bursting with indignation and I said "Why isn't it the perfect school to integrate and to begin with, if it's in the neighborhood, instead of sending the Negro children a long way off by streetcar and letting the school go to pieces?" Which was a very good school, already having most of the children from the minor officials of the embassies. They came from all over. So it was a perfect place. Well, they turned to Mrs Cornell—what have you done, what have you brought here to this meeting, you know? She looked very uncomfortable and she said "Well, I would agree with Mrs Foreman although maybe its not quite time to do it." She was so good. And I felt I was backed up all the way, in my efforts. But the children . . . I don't think they really suffered. They all went to the theatre. We came up to the theatre to see the play On Whitman Avenue and it was written by Maxime Funsterwald, a friend of ours. It was about a Negro family who moved into a white neighborhood. Somebody bought them a house, just like Carl and Ann. Anyway, we sat right behind Mrs Roosevelt in the theatre at this premier in New York. And the children were old enough to come. Joanie might have been 9 and Sheila 10 or 11. Anyway, at the time . . . the children in the play, the Negroes were pushed out and the neighborhood people came in and were ugly toward them. Our children sobbed a little bit and cried a little bit about it.

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We went out afterwards and Mrs Roosevelt turned around and said "Well, I shouldn't have thought this was a very good thing to bring children to." I was astounded, in public, you know, to have her take me on like that. I just said "Well, Mrs Roosevelt, these are Clark Foreman's children and we've been brought up with Negroes. I don't think that it hurts children to cry." I didn't know what to do. I felt absolutely wanted the floor to open up and swallow me up. I felt so hurt that Mrs Roosevelt . . . you know, why would she feel that it hurt children to cry.
CLARK FOREMAN:
I understand . . . after the mess she made with her children, she wasn't . . .
MAIRI FOREMAN:
The children really . . . it was something for them to weep about. I don't think it hurt them. I think that's all. I better stop.
[Interruption]
CLARK FOREMAN:
What happened was, it was a meeting in 1928 in Washington. And John Hope was there. He and Will Alexander and I had been talking about the need for this. Getting these all together and how it could be done. And all the difficulties were raised. So I finally came through with the idea, well, if John Hope was made the head of the Atlanta University, which was just a part of it, and then the others could be brought together around him. So he accepted that. He thought it was a brilliant idea. Just seemed to me commonplace.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Do you feel like talking a little bit about the Emergency Civil Liberties Committee so we will have a little bit on your whole career?
CLARK FOREMAN:
I don't feel like it now.
END OF INTERVIEW