Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Many pro-segregation Oxford residents treated Murphy well

Despite near universal opposition to the <cite>Brown</cite> decision among whites in Oxford, Mississippi, Murphy remembers that many locals were very kind to him and his wife, even as he was being driven out of town. Even with an issue as passionately argued as <cite>Brown</cite>, the personal transcended the political.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with William Patrick Murphy, January 17, 1978. Interview B-0043. 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

WILLIAM PATRICK MURPHY:
You asked me what kind of reactions I'd get from my friends outside the state and in Memphis. I think it's even more interesting the reaction we got from people there in Oxford, and I'm talking particularly about people down on the Square. Oxford's one of these small towns that has the courthouse square in the center of town and then a rim of stores around it on four sides. And I'm talking about people like the local druggist and the hardware store people and the department store people and the barber I used to go to. These people, up to the very last day we left town to move to Missouri, let us know that they liked us; they were sorry it had all happened; they wished we could stay; they were very supportive. And they didn't care whether or not I was defending the Supreme Court or whether I was an integrationist or whatever. They liked me; they liked my wife; and they went out of their way—more than a lot of people on the Ole Miss faculty, I might add, did—these townspeople, a lot of them went out of their way to make sure that my wife and I knew how they felt about us.
SEAN DEVEREUX:
But if you had polled them on the school desegregation issue, how would they …
WILLIAM PATRICK MURPHY:
[Laughter] Oh, I suspect they'd have been unanimously opposed to the Supreme Court decision. Although you never know what a person's private views are. So I'm just guessing; maybe they would have fooled me.