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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Facilitating involvement by minorities and women in government

Clement explains that it is important to have women and minorities involved in government administrations because they are aware of different issues and concerns. Her role, she says, has been to keep key concerns related to education, family life and childcare before the county commissioners.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Josephine Clement, July 13 and August 3, 1989. Interview C-0074. 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.

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Again, in the senses of has the Board been a good vehicle for your interests?
Right. Education, minorities--and that means in this area mostly blacks, we don't have a lot of other minorities--and women. Those are my primary concerns. But I think also there's another large area and that is one of what you might call the humane approach to ordinary problems that I think you find more coming from women than men. Most boards that we've had in the past have been comprised of white males, men from the business community, who are very oriented toward business and the business ledger. Do the books balance and the revenue and this sort of thing. In the last fifteen to twenty years we've a slow trickle of women and people who are not entirely oriented that way. I certainly don't mean to imply that we don't need business people. We do, because running any governmental agency is big business, and you must make it function. But I think there is a humane approach also. You're dealing with people and when you're dealing with people it's a little more than numbers in a book that balance. Now we have done some things. For instance, we have a homeless shelter which is rather new among counties. It's not generally considered a function of a county. We have part ownership in this, although we've taken the lead, but with the city and with the religious community. We bought a building which was available because we had monies from our bond issue, and they are repaying us from this. The religious community is raising money also for that, and the city is paying. We were able to buy the building and get started with the program. I'm also, have just been appointed to the Board of Social Services as representative from the Commissioners and this is another area, I think, in which we need a humane point of view. Not that they don't have it. I don't mean to imply that at all, but I'm saying it is one of the areas that is not as cut and dried as how much money you going to put in this building and how much is this contract going to be. I mean, these are human beings. We deal with dysfunctional families, we deal with children in trouble, children without homes, who for whatever reason no longer live at home, either they left voluntarily or the parents put them out or whatever. They say twelve, thirteen, and fourteen, that age group in there. It's hard to find foster homes for them because people who are foster parents want young children who they can train and manage, and you can understand this. They don't want incorrigible teenagers who might run off in the middle of the night. And so those are problems that you have, problems of our society. We have the problem of the jail. We're being sued currently for overcrowding. I think in making decisions there perhaps we--just listening to some of the comments that some of the men make, they seem to be less than sympathetic to the plight of the inmates. At least I see them as poor. Maybe I'm a bleeding heart, I don't know, and maybe I need them to balance me off, but I see them as poor, disadvantaged people who never had a chance. Maybe like the little boy in the stroller whose mother pushed him down and who has been brutalized over the years and has grown up without any loving hand or loving family to support him and restrain him. These are really pathetic people in our society today. I don't know what's going to become of them. I think having a point of view to balance off some of the others is also important.
And it seems then that you certainly consider that your role.
On the County Commissioners, keeping those issues before the Board.
I do. And I'm not trying to say that I'm the only one, but you asked me about my role, and this is the way I perceive myself.