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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Marion Wright, March 8, 1978. Interview B-0034. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

The <cite>Brown</cite> decision changed the SRC's strategy

The <cite>Brown</cite> decision in 1954 changed the SRC's strategy. Before <cite>Brown</cite>, the Council worked to strike down legal segregation; after, it sought to ensure that the law was enforced. This excerpt may require some untangling: Wright says that the SRC grew more militant in the 1950s, but also says that the absence of persecution dimmed the group's ardor. He may mean that in the run-up to and immediate aftermath of the <cite>Brown</cite> decision, the SRC fought fiercely, but after the law was settled, so did the Council.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Marion Wright, March 8, 1978. Interview B-0034. 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

Looking back over the different periods of the SRC, do you see any real difference in the strategies that the Council pursued, say, up until 1954 and then after 1954? Real breaks in what the Council was trying to do?
I think there was a definite change in strategy. Up until 1954, your whole concern was to get segregation declared to be against the law. At that time the Southern Regional Council had the law against it; segregation was on the books. From 1954 on, the law was on our side. So whereas up until the Supreme Court decision we put all of our efforts into seeing that laws are enacted and that courts correctly interpret them, after that point the task becomes one of persuading the public to abide by the law. Up to that time, you were trying to persuade the public to repeal the law; now you've got it repealed. You would want to move into a new atmosphere as peacefully as you could. So I think the whole thing was that we were militant when militance was what was needed, and I think we have been persuasive where persuasion has been needed.
Do you see the Council as being more militant in the fifties?
Yes, until the law was on the books we benefitted from persecution. And Talmadge and Wallace, you name them, were all fighting us. They'd have people go to meetings and get license numbers of cars and trace down who were the owners and take snapshots of those present so on. So it appealed a little bit to your feeling of intrigue. [Laughter] And I think people could show more fervor. Early Christians probably were a darned sight more fervent than the later ones because they were being persecuted. And we, in a sense, were being persecuted, so you had the temptation to fight back. When there is no occasion for fighting, you have a tendency to lose your ardor.