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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 14, 1979. Interview C-0013-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

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

I guess 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.