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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, November 8, 1976. Interview B-0041. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Desegregation of public buildings met with some opposition at UNC

Resistance to desegregated public spaces at UNC resurfaced again prior to the performance of the black opera singer Dorothy Maynor. A local church replaced the campus location as the concert site as a compromise between the university administration and local pro-desegregation church and student groups.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Charles M. Jones, November 8, 1976. Interview B-0041. 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

JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
I was thinking earlier when you were talking about the Dorothy Maynor concert, you said something about its not being segregated. Was that at all common, local black people going to musical events?
CHARLES M. JONES:
Well, you had to have more than student sponsorship. You see, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen was behind it, and we were a South-wide organization. So we had contacts in Durham, and we could get out the Durham North Carolina College kids, you see. And anyway, Dorothy was black herself. Her husband's a preacher and he's a good friend of mine, so I've known them personally for years. And when the idea occurred to have them, I wrote to her and she says, "Yes, I'd love to do it. I'm under contract, but I'll give you all of my fee." She says, "My manager may have to take some." Well, it was this fellow Hurok, Sol. So I got in touch with him, and he says, "I'll give you all my fee, but she's not going there if she's got to sing to a segregated audience." He says, "I won't have any of my artists sing to a segregated audience." And I says, "Well, she's not going to have a segregated audience here." So the whole thing, he gave all the advertisements and paid for the tickets, and she did the singing. But, you see, it was only because we had that. Now, if the YMCA had tried that it would have flopped. Now the other thing that we did, we did with KAGAWA [unclear] . [Laughter] And this was a scream. It didn't work out. You know, KAGAWA was a great cooperative.
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
Yes.
CHARLES M. JONES:
The Ministerial Association wanted to bring him. And so we decided to bring him, but we couldn't bring him segregated. So we sent a committee over to see Bob House—I lived two doors from Bob—and we went over to see Bob, and Bob said, "Sure, you can have Memorial Hall." And I said, "Well, Bob, we couldn't have him segregated, because there's going to be some black people coming just because they'd be interested in him [unclear] ." And Bob says, "Well, Charlie, I don't know." And I says, "Well, can we talk to Dr. Frank about it?" He says, "Ye-e-ah." So they resolved it; Frank persuaded Bob to do it, and Bob said we could. Then again the same thing happens. Somebody turns the word loose. It's happened down there. Bob gets all these…. And Bob called and said, "Charlie, I don't think we can do it." He says, "How about letting your friends [Laughter] go over to Durham?" I said, "Bob, we can't do that. And anyway, I haven't got the right to say; it's the Ministerial Association." So I called a meeting of the Association, and we decided we couldn't segregate. We sent three people back to Bob House. He said, "Well, you can have it in the Methodist Church unsegregated, I'm on the board. I see that you're going to do it if it…." And we said, "Well, if that's all we can do, it's all we can do, but we'll have to go back and see what the rest of the men think about it." And all of them but one said we would not segregate it anywhere, and if he could get us the Methodist Church, we'd do that. But we already had our publicity out on it, and we called that to his attention. We had one preacher here in the Episcopal Church, David Yates, who was a remarkable fellow. He was a bachelor, tall, a beautiful man, and very conservative doctrinally. He believed in the virgin birth and all those things, but he was a pacifist and he'd quote you scripture at the drop of a hat and an uncompromising integrationist. And he went back with us to see Bob. And the Lutheran who had been allowed free use of Gerrard Hall for church worship went back with us, and he felt we ought not to cause the University any embarrassment. He said, "Well, now, we ought not go back over there and change this," he says, "we ought to just go ahead and let the colored people sit in the balcony. Well, it wouldn't be segregated that way."
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
[Laughter]
CHARLES M. JONES:
But it still would, of course. Well, we said, "No, we can't do that." He objects, "Well, you know, people think preachers are fools anyway. And they'll say, ‘Well, it's those fool preachers again. They can't make up their minds what they want to do."’ And David Yates said, "Well, if we must be fools, let's be fools for Christ's sake." [Laughter]
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
[Laughter]
CHARLES M. JONES:
And that ended it, and we had it in the Methodist church. But we got cut off there at that point [unclear] So occasionally we were just stopped...