Demonstrating racial harmony for an African head of state
Spaulding remembers his role in hosting an African head of state. Spaulding presented the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company as an example of the success African Americans were experiencing in the United States, an argument for the primacy of democracy over Communism and the potential of minorities.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 14, 1979. Interview C-0013-2. 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
it goes back to 1959, when Sehon [unclear]
Touré came here. You know that story so I don't
need to repeat it, with Hodges and all.
- WALTER WEARE:
I think it's worth repeating.
- ASA T. SPAULDING:
And I was invited to the White House for the dinner, as I recall. Now, I
may be getting a little mixed up. But this other part I'm
sure of. The State Department contacted me to see about hosting him. And
John Morrow, who was the ambassador, and formerly taught at North
Carolina Central University, and he was the ambassador to Guinea. And
the State Department was anxious. See, after Sehon Touré
became president, the Russians wanted him to visit Russia. We wanted him
to visit here. And everybody was going to determine which way he was
going to lean by where he visited. Morrow was called upon because his
brother was in the White House at that time, Fred Morrow. So, through
that and the State Department, he agreed to come to Durham. Now, he had
asked to go to Atlanta. So they were in a pickle. There was no way they
could get the governor of Georgia to receive him. Well, they
couldn't stand for the head of state to be rejected by the
governor of the state. So they got in touch with Hodges, who was our
governor at that time. And Hodges agreed. While he didn't
receive him at the mansion, he arranged for him to stay at the Carolina
Inn, and they would have the dinner that night at the Morehead
Planetarium. We were invited there. There were two
places they wanted him to visit: North Carolina Central University.
Morrow was interested in that, who was the ambassador, because it was
where he had left. And he wanted to visit North Carolina Mutual. Or
they wanted him to visit North Carolina Mutual because
of the position that it held—a black institution, largest
Negro insurance company in the world, and all that. And that that would
make some impression on him, what a minority is doing in this country,
which is a democracy as against a communist country. So we agreed to
serve as hosts. I had the mayor to present him with a key to the city,
and it was quite an affair. Following that my wife and I were invited to
the dinner over at Morehead Planetarium, and of course they had a
luncheon for him over at Duke—Dr. Hollis Edena— we
were invited out there. And so on. But as these African countries began
to gain their independence, and they would send missions over here.
Especially agricultural ones. They'd come to North Carolina A
& T University because of their interest in agricultural
development in their respective countries. In every instance, they had
the North Carolina Mutual on the agenda as places to visit. And we would
entertain them. Mechanics & Farmers Bank, Mutual Savings and
Loan Association, North Carolina Mutual would have a luncheon. And I
guess you saw him going through the whetstone with different groups.
I was talking about what North Carolina Mutual has meant to our state and
nation. And how you measure it in terms of goodwill. I don't
know how you measure it. And because of the respect that it
had—I think I told you the story of how I got Hubert Humphrey
here to be the commencement speaker.