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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Southern rigidity stifles social progress

Green blames southern provincialism for stifling progress. He remembers trying to force movie theaters to sell tickets to African Americans, and the resistance to his efforts to abolish capital punishment. He traces some of this rigidity to the influence of Christianity.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Paul Green, May 30, 1975. Interview B-0005-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

I'm off the subject now, but anyhow, these are all connected with the general matter of improvement of relations. We tried for years to get at least Negro graduates into this University. We tried for years to get the motion picture houses to allow all the citizens to attend. Finally, Porgy and Bess arrives here and I go to Carrington Smith and I say
When did this happen?
Oh, a few years ago, not too long ago. We had already had the Supreme Court decision and so on to back us up. I went to Carrington and said, "Carrington, Porgy and Bess is coming here and that is a Negro movie and this would be a great time to invite our Negro people to come and see their movie." "Oh," he said, "We can't do that." So now, you go up there and the Negroes are coming in and it is wonderful. We've finally done it, but without the backing of Uncle Sam and the Supreme Court, we would still be in the darkness.
It is very surprising to me how slow the University of North Carolina was to take any kind of position ….
We are a terribly provincial state and there are many reasons for it. One is because of men like Billy Graham. When you already have all the truth that you need, you see, a fellow that is lost and wandering and hunting for salvation, he is always more sympathetic, but a guy that has already got it has got it all made. So, the University has been controlled by Baptists, and our battle to eradicate capital punishment in the state has always found its greatest opponents in good church people. The Roman Catholics first of all are adamant as a rule, the Episcopalians next and the Baptists and Methodists down the line, but you find a free thinker, nearly everytime, he is on our side. There is something funny there.