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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 16, 1979. Interview C-0013-3. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Remembering Charles R. Moore

Spaulding remembers the educator Charles R. Moore. An African American, Moore was very generous with needy members of the black community, Spaulding recalls, and his light complexion may have emboldened him in his relations with whites. "He was a philosopher," Spaulding says.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Asa T. Spaulding, April 16, 1979. Interview C-0013-3. 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

WALTER WEARE:
We haven't talked about a number of those figures, particularly Dr. Moore or C.C. Spaulding. In talking to you before, Dr. Moore had a heavy influence on your life.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Oh, yes. They looked to him for leadership in the area. He was a senior citizen. You know, they called Merrick, Moore and Spaulding the triumverate. I presume you've heard that referred to. And it seemed to have been a good combination. Merrick was a very personable individual, made friends easily. He was quite an extrovert. Dr. Moore was the silent thinker. And they always said still water runs deep. And that he was the thinker in the group. And C.C. Spaulding was very outgoing, agressive, extroverted. Public-relations minded. Dr. Moore was not concerned about advertising anything he did. In other words, he didn't believe in getting on the house top and shouting it: he believed in doing it for the sake of doing it, because it was the thing to do. That's why he would go, if a patient didn't have money to pay for a prescription, he would take the prescription to the drugstore, pay for it, and have it delivered to the home. I think I told you this the first day: if they were without heat, he would have a half-ton of coal sent, and paid for it. And many of his patients he never sent a bill to.
WALTER WEARE:
He died when? In twenty-?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
'23. April 29, 1923. I think it was around twelve or twelve-thirty. I remember it as vividly as if it were today. Because I had just come from church. He lived next door to White Rock Baptist Church. And I had come out of the church and started up the steps into the house. And L.J. Spaulding was coming out. He said, "He's just passed." Although I knew he was sick, it was just so sudden, it upset me.
WALTER WEARE:
He was not a man—according to the stories surrounding him—who would brook much opposition from the Jim Crow world.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well he didn't back off in talking to the whites at all. He was not—and this is an opinion of mine, from all that I heard about him, and my association with him from 1918 until he died. And seeing him talking with whites. I told you about trips we made down to North Carolina State College to see Dr. Brooks, the president of North Carolina State, when he was trying to get the Rosenwald School in in this state.
WALTER WEARE:
Oh, yes. You mentioned that.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
And W.C. Jackson was president of the Women's College in Greensboro. See, they were state leaders. And I would drive Dr. Moore at nights to have meetings with them. And in what writings they were ever able to find of him, some of them were very direct and not apologetic at all. He didn't try to be a diplomat. It could be because of the amount of white blood that was in him. [Laughter] See, the thing that they say about the master of father of Ben: "He just didn't see how he could make a slave out of Ben. With the white blood coursing through his veins, he just rebelled against it."
WALTER WEARE:
So Dr. Moore might have been assisted in that he was very fair.
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, he was very fair, but his hair was not of the quality of a white person's hair.
WALTER WEARE:
But when he stood up and spoke directly to white people, they might have reacted differently than if he had been a black man?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Well, I think the fact that he was fair, and another thing about it: he was a thinker. And he was very logical. When he opened his mouth he had something to say. You know, there are some people who carry on a lot of conversation on just a lot of things in general. Well, he was a philosopher.
WALTER WEARE:
So he would weigh his words?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
And I remember one thing that he said. He said, "Never repeat anything you hear that hurts." In other words, if someone tells you something about a person, gossip or anything, don't repeat it. Repeat it only if it helps.
WALTER WEARE:
Did he have any trouble voting do you think? Did he vote?
ASA T. SPAULDING:
Let's see. He died in '23. I don't know whether blacks had started voting in Durham that early or not. I really don't know.