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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

WEC emerges out of the Little Rock desegregation crisis

Brewer describes the goal and inception of the Women's Emergency Committee (WEC). The group arose as a result of the Little Rock desegregation crisis.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Vivion Lenon Brewer, October 15, 1976. Interview G-0012. 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

ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs) You just didn't know it. Oh, heavens. Okay. So what, then, were the origins of the Women's Emergency Committee?
VIVION LENON BREWER:
One person has never been given the credit she should have been given. She is Velma Powell, who is the wife of J. O. Powell, who was the Dean of Men at Central High School. She had lived for a year in the Terry home. At the time all of this trouble arose, she was the secretary for the Arkansas Council on Human Relations. The year 1957-58, when black children were in Central for the first time, she, of course, had firsthand knowledge of all the dreadful things that happened. And finally she wrote Mrs. Terry a letter and said, "You have always been in the forefront of all the crises that we've ever had. Where are you now?" And Mrs. Terry thought about this. She had been really ill with worrying about what was going on; in fact, she said she went to bed and was ready to die, but she didn't die. (Laughs) So she got up...
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
(Laughs)
VIVION LENON BREWER:
...and decided she'd do something.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
She was so concerned about the community, the curfews...
VIVION LENON BREWER:
And about the blacks, you see, because her interest had always been in racial problems. Everything else--all kinds of problems--but very much so concerned in racial problems. And so her first thought was that we might organize a group of women such as the group that had fought lynching and finally brought the antilynching laws into being.