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Title: Oral History Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983. Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Electronic Edition.
Author: Lawson, James, interviewee
Interview conducted by Blanchard, Dallas A.
Funding from the Institute of Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this interview.
Text encoded by Kristin Shaffer
Sound recordings digitized by Aaron Smithers Southern Folklife Collection
First edition, 2008
Size of electronic edition: 108 Kb
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
2008.
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text.
The electronic edition is a part of the UNC-Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2008-00-00, Celine Noel, Wanda Gunther, and Kristin Martin revised TEIHeader and created catalog record for the electronic edition.
2008-01-18, Kristin Shaffer finished TEI-conformant encoding and final proofing.
Source(s):
Title of recording: Oral History Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983. Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0029)
Author: Dallas A. Blanchard
Title of transcript: Oral History Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983. Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Title of series: Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. Southern Oral History Program Collection (F-0029)
Author: James Lawson
Description: 77.2 Mb
Description: 24 p.
Note: Interview conducted on October 24, 1983, by Dallas A. Blanchard; recorded in Unknown.
Note: Transcribed by Unknown.
Note: Forms part of: Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007): Series F. Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, Manuscripts Department, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Note: Original transcript on deposit at the Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
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Interview with James Lawson, October 24, 1983.
Interview F-0029. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007)
Lawson, James, interviewee


Interview Participants

    JAMES LAWSON, interviewee
    DALLAS A. BLANCHARD, interviewer

[TAPE 1, SIDE A]


Page 1
[START OF TAPE 1, SIDE A]
JAMES LAWSON:
Hello.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Jim, this is Dallas Blanchard again.
JAMES LAWSON:
Hey, Dallas.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Hey. How are you? Is this a convenient time?
JAMES LAWSON:
Sure.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Good. I appreciate it. Is it all right with you if I tape this?
JAMES LAWSON:
Of course.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
All right, and I will send along a release for you to sign, for the University of North Carolina Library would like a copy of these tapes.
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh, hu.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
First, could you tell me where you were born and raised?
JAMES LAWSON:
All right. I was born in the home of an AME Zion pastor in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, September 22, 1928.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Then you were raised in Pennsylvania?
JAMES LAWSON:
Essentially. However, I was raised in Northeast Ohio.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
When did you first run into the Fellowship?
JAMES LAWSON:
Of Reconciliation?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
No, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen. All right. That was in a . . . well see I'm not even sure, to be truthful. It would've been whenever, at about the time it was organized probably because initially it was not in place and Will Campbell created it partially as a vehicle for his own Ministry.

Page 2
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right.
JAMES LAWSON:
Let's see. In '57 he was NCC [National Council of Churches]. Let's see. How long did that go on?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
That was into the early 60's, I think, or the late 50's.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. I think that office closed somewhere around '62 or '63. I'm not exactly sure, so it would be someplace in there then that Will organized the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Did you ever know Buck Kester?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yes, as I recall I've met him, but I didn't really know him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
. . . to any depth.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Let's see. You weren't a member of Will's group. You weren't a member that was, there was an earlier group called the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen which was organized about 1934?
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And, kind of died out about 1957.
JAMES LAWSON:
Right, I would imagine.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did you attend the Conference of Human Relations and Religion that they had in Nashville in '57? Martin Luther King spoke at that.
JAMES LAWSON:
Gosh, I do not remember. I was in Nashville in '57 and it's according when it was. Do you know when it was?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I don't know the exact date. I don't have that in front of me. I think it was in the fall of '57, but I'm not sure of that.
JAMES LAWSON:
If it was in the fall of '57, I probably attended it.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. What other groups were you a member of around 1957?

Page 3
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Of course, SCLC, Fellowship of Reconciliation . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Tennessee Council of Human Relations . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
Ah, now let me think what else. Of course, the National Christian Leadership would be SCLC affiliated.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
I think that's about all.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. How did you get connected with the sit-ins in Nashville?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Well, in '57 I became the Southern Secretary of the Fellowship of Reconciliation.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
It's in that relationship that I met Will and of course many others . . . amm, and in going to, ahh, deciding to live in Nashville rather than in, ah, Atlanta I had my choice as to where I could open, ah, could open the office and all —— I chose Nashville because a variety of people were saying, you know, Vanderbilt University would be a good spot to be around, so and the net result was, that's where I settled, ah, and in the process of my first immediate task, was, ah, doing workshops on non-violence all around the South in the movement. As a consequence of that, I determined that I should try to develop a model for the movement to look at in which I would put into operation, ah, kind of a full display of non-violent philosophy in action, amm, and that should be done in Nashville. So we had already geared some workshops in Nashville in 19 . . . the spring of, whatever, the spring of

Page 4
'58, and then the Nashville Christian Leadership Conference determined that ought to be a project for the downtown area. So in the fall of 1959 we started a series of workshops with student and community people with an aim toward developing a leadership in the downtown area specifically centered. We did testing, developing our targets and all the rest of it. So that's how I got involved in the sit-ins.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
So in February . . . We did testing in November, then workshops, followups . . . Then we were stopped by exams and whatnot. In any case, when February first came around, we were ready and we moved immediately.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right, the Greensboro sit-in did precede what you did . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Did precede that public phase.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JAMES LAWSON:
But we had, we had already done not only preparation, but exploratory work on targets, practicing sending groups out to practice non-violence——not sitting continuously, but when they were trying instead to confront waiters and waitresses and if possible the managers and then leaving before arrest.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, I see.
JAMES LAWSON:
But that was all for the purpose of their training and discovering what was going on.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
This testing phase started in the fall then?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. This started in November; it's November I'm pretty sure when we started the weekly forages of experimentation into a variety of lunch counters and restaurants.

Page 5
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Downtown Nashville.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You had some whites involved in that as well as blacks, right?
JAMES LAWSON:
Now let me think about this. In the fall I am not positive, OK?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
I cannot be positive about that in the fall. I'm trying to remember if some of the exchange students at Fisk were involved and I'm also trying to remember if, if at that time, amm, I know we took visitors sometimes in some of that, cause we had a couple of church people from Africa touring and they went with a couple of our groups.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
And I can't recall if . . . I cannot recall if we had any whites considerably in that fall.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Paula Prod and a couple of exchange students did, were acting in the sit-in campaign in February but I can't remember if they were in the workshops in the fall or not.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. What was the role of Will Campbell in the sit-ins?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Will organized what we called our observer groups.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
Stayed in the downtown area when we were there keepin' a running record of everything they saw.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
And Will quite specifically organized that and then also, of course, beyond that, was involved with the Human Relations Conference with other folk interpreting what we were doing.

Page 6
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. What was Everett Tilson's role?
JAMES LAWSON:
This I do not remember for full. In early '60, but I would assume that he might've been one of those observers. I have to tell you I sort of did deliberately. In fact some of the folk at Vanderbilt sort of did not like my decision but I sort of deliberately did not include them in certain public phases for strategic reasons, namely that their presence would often further inflame things and make Vanderbilt more the target than our business downtown the target.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
So I quite deliberately low-keyed exposing Vanderbilt's students and people in at least the initial days of it, and then, also, the initially, the larger number of blacks, I mean the larger number of whites we used as witnesses and observers rather than as people sitting-in directly.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right.
JAMES LAWSON:
We used them in these other roles, and that again was a deliberate decision.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
For the purpose of court cases and the rest.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. What about Kelly Miller Smith?
JAMES LAWSON:
Kelly Miller Smith was president of the National Christian Leadership Conference; so he was in on all the executive sessions and then, of course, became chairperson of our negotiating committee in the public phase of things. Became the chairperson of our negotiating committee.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.

Page 7
JAMES LAWSON:
So his role and, of course many other roles, he was supportive, he offered to trust with us. His church was the headquarters, for the actual demonstrations. He helped to mobilize different units of the community, like the lawyers, the public officials, behind the whole thing.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Would you react to some name for me?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did you ever hear of J. C. Herrin?
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, yes. But I don't recall specifics.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Charles Jones?
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, lordy. That's another problem ATTC name. That name. It's more problematic though because there was at least three Charles Jones.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
One white, two blacks, who were involved in the struggle in different phases of different ways.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
This one was a Presbyterian Minister over in, ah, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yes. That's right. There was a black Presbyterian, too, Charles Jones.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh.
JAMES LAWSON:
In North Carolina.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
[unknown] run into him.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. He was a younger man. I can't remember details though.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Ah, did you ever run into a Nell Morton?
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, Yes.

Page 8
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you recall how, where, and when?
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, lordy. That's a very difficult question because I can't remember precisely when and where because she has been a fairly long time in my life . . . in my student days as I remember.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Where was that?
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, I was in Ohio at Baldwin-Wallace, but as I recall Nell Morton was in some of the National meetings I was into in North America and student things and that's where we first met but I do not know where this was. So she was one of those kind of people who, though I did not know her well, I knew her reputation: a person of courage and a person deeply committed to a racial justice and change, and then as a consequence of my meeting her, also becoming the draft resistor and whatnot in the '50's, she became one of the people who strongly supported my life ministry and witness, and still does. In fact, I was, I just talked with her back in September. She is retired out there at Claremont.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, I know. I spent a couple of days with her last summer.
JAMES LAWSON:
So . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I didn't realize you were out in Los Angeles or I would've seen you at that time if I could have.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. So, in fact, I was on TV in a run-in with Ed Robbs of the Institute of Religion and Race and she called me that afternoon to tell me how glad and pleased she was with what I did.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
[Laughter]
JAMES LAWSON:
So she has continued to be that kind of motivator of mine.

Page 9
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Myles Horton?
JAMES LAWSON:
Myles. Highlander School, and adult education, and, of course, a center where there could be multi-racial meetings. I did . . . I did some things with him at Highlander in the late '50's and '60's, then later on I was a member of his Board. Well you know he was one of the pioneers trying to move Tennessee and the South.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Jim Dombrowski?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. New Orleans. Again he was one of those folk who had a long career trying to bring about changes and was very, very supportive of the whole non-violent black movement.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you recall the way he supported it?
JAMES LAWSON:
Beg pardon?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you recall any specific way he supported it?
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, sure. Both Horton with his organization, but Dombrowski. I cannot remember that name of the group. I guess at different times I was part of his group, too. Gosh it went out of existence in the late '60's or early '70's. Ann Braden worked for him, Carl Braden. I can't recall even the blooming name of it, amm, yea, he, through that network that he tried to put together that was multi-racial, so with funds, with people who got involved with interpreting with the newsletter that used to report so many, many things and change, just a great variety of ways to support. Again, one of those whites, who had a very clear understanding of what it was all about and I think he had the confidence of a sizeable number of black people around the South. Myles would be in that category. Will Campbell would be in that category definitely.

Page 10
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
My experience . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
James McBride Dabbs?
JAMES LAWSON:
Knew him only from a distance. Southern, whatever it is, the Southern Regional Council, amm, South Carolina and a . . . No, I have met him a couple of times and been in some of the Southern Regional meetings with him. More from a distance. Of course, he would get one of those figures, he was very well honored among the people who knew him well for his prophetic position he took in support of change.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Howard Odom?
JAMES LAWSON:
I may know the name, but I don't recall.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Ok. Gene Smathers?
JAMES LAWSON:
I'd say the same.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Ok. Scotty Cowan?
JAMES LAWSON:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Warren Ashby?
JAMES LAWSON:
I'm more familiar with that name, but I don't recall much.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Arthur Churchill?
JAMES LAWSON:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Jim Holloway?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yes. I've met Jim a number of times. He was Southern Churchman Editor of a [unknown], a writer, know him more from that division, though we been the same meetings in a couple of occasions.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.

Page 11
JAMES LAWSON:
I guess Will and I also in Nashville . . . a couple of times I had lunch with him and Will.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. What can you tell me about Will Campbell? How would you characterize him?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Well, I personally had almost complete confidence in Will. He is one of the people with whom I talked over a great, great variety of things. We not only . . . we traveled together at different times during the Little Rock crisis, for example, and the school situation, he and I, on two or three occasions went into Little Rock together and stayed together and worked together on various contacts. I was very active . . . '57, '58 in fact, Ernest Green and I, one of the school students, the first to graduate have been friends ever since because of my involvement with them.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
So I came to have a very, very high appreciation of Will. He, I think of many of the people, took a position more theologically like my own, namely the radical character of the scriptures: Loving the enemy, turning the other cheek, care about the sinner and the oppressed and the bruised and, of course, I carried that to the place where I recognized the necessity of the transformation of the KKK member and the hard-nosed segregationist and frequently in the hostility that I gained across the years have always fought to see such persons in that light, so Will probably more than anyone that I have met, specially in the white community, came closer to my own biblical position on the revolutionary character of the gospel. He and I didn't always agree

Page 12
about the efficacies of non-violence. I don't know if he would claim to be a practitioner, but he at least had a clear understanding of the non-violent demand that I tried to teach, practice, and preach.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Thomas Kilgore?
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, I've come to know Tom much better since I've come out to LA.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
He, for me, originally, he was the New York man, preacher, who backed FCLC and opened up our New York office, so I knew him more from that distance.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I see.
JAMES LAWSON:
And from national conventions. We knew each other face to face on a basis under the consequences of board meetings and staff meetings and that sort of thing but still he was more of a distant figure. I knew of his very active support and fund-raising and like, but . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You hadn't know of him in a activist way in the South?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. I did not see him in the Southeast as an activist.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Murray Branch?
JAMES LAWSON:
I do not recall.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Ben Mays.
JAMES LAWSON:
I'm sure I knew both Murray Branch and Ben Mays but I don't recall.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. Did you ever know Neal Hughley?
JAMES LAWSON:
No.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK. That about covers the names I have.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK.

Page 13
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
How would you characterize the Committee of Southern Churchmen as an organization?
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, I really wasn't close to it except through Will, and I, I thought primarily as the vehicle that essentially Will formed and reorganized for the purpose of providing himself with a basic organizational leverage or platform to organize his ministries around. So that's really how I thought . . . I wasn't aware in those years in the '60's they had that many meetings. They did more relating to Will Campbell by phone calls and correspondence than they really did have that many meetings.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
They sustained and supported his work and his philosophy. Of course, the magazine became fairly a prophetic voice, it seemed to me at least, but again, how widely circulated it was I don't know.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha, or to whom?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah, or to whom. Right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
What about the faculty at Vanderbilt? Who gave you the greatest support there?
JAMES LAWSON:
I suppose that's fairly hard to say. I would say though it would probably have been a combination of Everett Tillson and J. Robert Nelson.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. I would think I would say, yes, in fact I would definitely, just simply definitely say it was those, those two would be the, the main two. I had . . . J. Robert Nelson was someone that I admired, was or

Page 14
is a good man, rather, and a strong man. So I admired him. That was really the first time I'd gotten close to him though as a dean and I didn't know him and he knew who I was, so we had visited before my, before 1960. Everett, I met through his Old Testament class, which for me was a very exciting affair with especially his work with the prophetic tradition and his interpretation and all. So I guess that's where I really, in a sense, fell in love with [unknown] his class, and we talked and visited. He was also Will's friend, so that helped. So I would say those two were my most supportive people from the faculty.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
From the faculty.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Did, was there anyone that surprised you with a lack of support?
JAMES LAWSON:
I should also say I guess that Roger Shinn was my counselor there, my faculty counselor, and he was quite helpful and supportive at the times I had conferences with him. Bard Thompson and I became very close because I was very excited by his teaching.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
Also, and I think he had a very firm trust in me although we didn't even know each other that well. I had never less than very firm trust in him, I know. I guess the person that surprised me though in some ways, we did get reconciled in 1970 and he surprised me, not because I knew him, but because of his Old Testament reputation up to that time. I had him that was Hyatt, who I understood from a variety of people, was quite negative about my whole role. As I say, we got reconciled

Page 15
because I went back on sabbatical in '70, 71', took his Jerimiah course and he was both impressed with my ability and I was in turn impressed by his knowledge of the prophetic movement and the way which he treated Jerimiah, so we did get reconciled. But I suppose that was the one, but it wasn't because he knew me or I knew him. It was more because I just assumed the person——did the prophetic tradition would have more of an understanding of the, what happened with Christian witness.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Is there anyone in particular you think I should talk to, to understand the Committee of Southern Churchmen, other than Will?
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, I would think Jim Holloway would be one.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
No, did not Beverly Asbury get active in that?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes, yes. He's on the executive committee now.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Well, I would think Beverly would be somebody. Now another guy that probably you should talk to, Baxton Bryant.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
It occurs to me because I don't know if Baxton actually, I don't know if he was actually on their executive board or anything but he became the chairperson of the Tennessee Council on Human Relations, and he and Will got along very, very well, so you ought to talk to Baxton Bryant. He's in the, United Methodist Church Pastor in Dallas.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Texas.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I didn't realize he was pastoring there.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah, he went back into pastoring several years ago.

Page 16
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
So you probably ought to talk to Baxton.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Now, let me think who else. Gosh, some of the stalwarts are now deceased. Just a moment, let me ask my wife Dorothy. Dorothy, come here a minute, please. Say, Dallas . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah?
JAMES LAWSON:
Do you have the people, the people who were at Mercer College?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Jim Henderik or Joe Henderik or Tom Trimble?
JAMES LAWSON:
OK.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
There, now, there was someone else who was at Mercer though.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah, that sounds familiar, and then also there was somebody at Wake Forest.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Wake Forest, I don't . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah, and I can't recall. Dorothy, she reminded me she can't recall who it was, too. There was someone very active at Wake Forest, amm, was W. W. Finlator ever in that?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Not that I know of.
JAMES LAWSON:
Is that right? Well, how about this guy, Pulley, North Carolina, wild-eyed preacher, white . . . I think Southern Baptist, who was very, who I think was, if he wasn't active he was a supporter.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I could run him down —
JAMES LAWSON:
Pulley or was it Poteat?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Poteat.
JAMES LAWSON:
Poteat.

Page 17
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah, there was a Poteat.
JAMES LAWSON:
P, O, T, E, A, T
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah, there was a Poteat.
JAMES LAWSON:
P, O, T, E, A, T, maybe that's who it is.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right. OK. Yeah. I've seen that name. I never knew him myself, though.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah. Let's see. I was trying to think of . . . there is another person from Mercer and I can't for the life of me think of this person. I can't think for the life of me who that was back in the '60's.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I've got it down somewhere in my notes.
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I remember there was someone from Mercer that surprised me it was a new name to me.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
But I can run that one down, too.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK. Of course, George Barrett. You must have that name.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JAMES LAWSON:
You would want to . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The Attorney.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Poteat, yes, Duncan Grey. Do you know that name?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK, also Robert Hughes.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right.

Page 18
JAMES LAWSON:
Alabama.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha. The missionary that got kicked out of Rhodesia.
JAMES LAWSON:
That's right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
You would want to talk with him.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In fact, he was a missionary to Alabama from Rhodesia for a while.
JAMES LAWSON:
Beg your pardon?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He was a missionary to Alabama from Rhodesia . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
That's right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
For a while.
JAMES LAWSON:
That's right. And, of course, you are going to talk to Julius Lester, I suppose.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JAMES LAWSON:
Let me see who else.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Do you know where Julius Lester is?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yes, University of Massachusetts Amherst, the last I heard.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh.
JAMES LAWSON:
I think he is still there.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
He's been on that faculty for some time now. Let me think who else around Nashville. Oh, there was a reporter who was a good friend of Will's at the, what's the name of the paper?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
The Tennessean?
JAMES LAWSON:
The Tennessean. Who wrote a couple of the studies of the, wrote a couple of the studies of the Human Relations in Nashville. I can't think of his name. He later went, I think, to NBC news . . .

Page 19
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, really?
JAMES LAWSON:
As a writer. Will should know who this is. He was there is '60.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
He should be, he should be helpful.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Let me see. Oh, yes, Pat Waters.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JAMES LAWSON:
From Atlanta, should be helpful. I don't know if, if what's his name became the State Department Spokesperson for Carter . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, Young?
JAMES LAWSON:
Huh?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Andy Young?
JAMES LAWSON:
No, no, from Greenville, Mississippi.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Oh, a Carter, Hodding.
JAMES LAWSON:
Hodding Carter. Now, his father, too, might be a valuable source if his father is still living.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
I don't think he is.
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha. OK. And, of course, P. D. East, but he is dead, isn't he?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, lordy. Oh, yes. That's right. Dorothy has reminded me of a woman in Greenville, Tennessee. Yes, I can't remember her last name, Jean something, but Will Campbell should know.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yes.
JAMES LAWSON:
She would be somebody to talk to about it. Then there was someone in Crossville, Tennessee, also.

Page 20
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Was that Elbert Jean?
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Right.
JAMES LAWSON:
Elbert Jean. Well, let me see. I guess, I guess Nell Morton must have given you some names of the old group, didn't she?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
Some of those people were still around in the '60's.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Tom Kilgore was one of that old group. He had been in North Carolina at one time.
JAMES LAWSON:
That's right. That's where he was born and raised.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You ever run into a Charles McCoy?
JAMES LAWSON:
I'm not sure.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
He's at Pacific School of Religion now. Teaches ethics there.
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
But he was a student at Duke in the '40's . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And got related to Nell, was a secretary of the Southern Churchmen, . . . Fellowship of Southern Churchmen, then . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
In Chapel Hill and they were integrating churches and the universities around Chapel Hill . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha.

Page 21
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Back around '46, '47, and I'm trying to see if there was a connection at all between what they were doing then and the Civil Rights Movement in the '50's and '60's. Some of them maintain they worked out the tactics of the later Civil Rights Movement. Like they would send a pair, male and female, white and black, four people to the various churches.
JAMES LAWSON:
To what?
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
They would go to various churches and just walk in and sit down.
JAMES LAWSON:
Uh ha.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And do their integration in that pattern in the '40's, and I was just astounded that they did it and got away with it.
JAMES LAWSON:
Well, of course, though that two-by-two tactic is a fairly old thing, though, because, you see, the actual, the first sit-in technique was really developed in places like Chicago, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Cleveland, Washington, D. C., in the early '40's.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
It was written about, it was written up in a whole variety of national publications at the time.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
That's where the Congress of Racial Equality began.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
They grew out of the early sit-ins that were in the North . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
Of restaurants and skating rinks. By the time I came along, the Congress of Racial Equality was doing summer workcamps, summer

Page 22
workshops for students who were interested in developing non-violent understandings.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
This was by 1946, 47.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
They were doing that.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
All right. They also participated with the Fellowship of Reconciliation in the 1947 test of the Interstate Commerce Commission Ruling . . .
JAMES LAWSON:
Right. Yes. Right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Nell Morton and that group.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yes, that's right. Those were the contacts all across that area.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha. Do you think groups of people like this, Nell and all those folks, helped to form, at all in any way, a network of people who later were involved in the Regional Civil Rights Movement of the South?
JAMES LAWSON:
Oh, yes. I think that's true. I think that's clear. That there was a network in the '40's of people who were experimenting with the whole variety of multi-racial contact and efforts.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
I was beholden to it, too, because in, by the time '57 rolled around, frequently my host in places like Monroeville, Virginia, Little Rock, Crossville, and a lot of these places would be a white family . . .
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
That was a product either of the FOR Network or that old Fellowship of Southern Churchmen.

Page 23
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha.
JAMES LAWSON:
They would be the people who would house me and all the rest of it so there was a significant Network that they were a part of.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Glad to know that.
JAMES LAWSON:
It is an important Network.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Yeah.
JAMES LAWSON:
Yeah.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Of course.
JAMES LAWSON:
In the, well, I shouldn't just say that because in the early, in the late '40's also I was a recipient of it because of, in Methodist meetings that I had to attend as a National Youth Officer in places like Kentucky, and Tennessee also a number of them were my hosts.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Uh ha. So you kind of got into the Network early on.
JAMES LAWSON:
That's right. I almost forgot the fact that I got into the Network in the late '40's.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Early '50's.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
Well, well, I thank you for your time, Jim.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK, Dallas.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And I will probably be in touch with you again.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
And tell Dorothy hello, and thanks a lot.
JAMES LAWSON:
OK.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
OK.
JAMES LAWSON:
Best wishes to you, hear.

Page 24
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
You, too.
JAMES LAWSON:
All right.
DALLAS A. BLANCHARD:
All right.
END OF INTERVIEW