Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Eva Clayton, July 18, 1989. Interview C-0084. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Significant moments in civil rights in Warren County, North Carolina

Clayton remembers some significant moments in the civil rights struggle in Warren County, North Carolina. She remembers when local officials tried to undermine protests by deputizing young black men; she also remembers when Reginald Hawkins, a black gubernatorial candidate, visited the area in 1968 and demonstrated the gravity of African Americans' claims to equality.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Eva Clayton, July 18, 1989. Interview C-0084. 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

KATHRYN NASSTROM:
I'm interested as you describe this period of the early and middle sixties in Warren County, if there are any particular events related to civil rights that stand out in your mind. In some of the larger communities, people might mention the time when Martin Luther King came and spoke in Raleigh or there's certain dates that are established as important. Is there any particular event or time that stands out in your mind as important for Warren County?
EVA CLAYTON:
Hmm. I think there are several, and I just think people go, as communities go, through stages. I think the period of time, I can't think of the years or the year, when there was so much unrest in the streets, when the young people were protesting. And the powers that be attempted to undermine the protest by trying to deputize the black men who were around who were young. I thought that stood out as being a desperate act, but also it stood out in mind as perhaps the peak of the pressure by the young people. That they were so unable to control the crowd that they had to resort to trying to use blacks to arrest their own children. In fact, my husband was one they approached, and there was a he was charged with failure to respond to the deputy's call, or something. Anyhow, it was dealt with in the courts like it should have been, and it was an attempt to frustrate and to demean. That stood out. The other one, I remember——not Martin coming to Warren County——but I ran in 1968, and during 1968, in May, if you'll recall, in 1968 we also had a black candidate for governor, his name was Reginald Hawkins. He had scheduled a big rally in eastern North Carolina and anyone in that particular area was also invited and I had promised to join him and Martin Luther King in Wilson. I was the only person in eastern North Carolina at that time running for Congress, but the real motivation was to have the person running for governor come to eastern North Carolina. Martin had promised to come and to be the speaker, and so that was . The impact of that on Warren County I think was significant. I think, indeed, it caused people to recognize how serious the issues were. There are other areas in Warren County, I guess for the purpose of your research, you're focusing on the demonstrations more than you are.