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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 >>

Unlike men, women had the freedom to focus on reopening public schools

Brewer blames men's social inactivity on the Faubus machine politics and economic reprisals. Because women largely were immune to political intimidation, they were able to assume leadership roles in improving public education.

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:
This is what has just been a major question of mine, and I'm really fascinated to know, to be able to figure out why so many of the leading men of the community just did not step forward and assume leadership roles. And I think a lot of it is because the issues were very confused.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
Partly, probably, although as far as we were concerned, they were not.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Right.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
It was one issue.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Yes.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
And this was something we couldn't understand, that the men wouldn't see that this was an issue. What does it do to a city if it doesn't have schools? And why they couldn't see this was beyond me. But I'm sure the Governor has a great deal of power, and many of the men were very afraid of reprisals. It's the same sort of thing, Betsy, that happened among the ministers.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Exactly.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
You see, they were told if they didn't remain quiet that they'd either be moved, or something.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
And they were.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
Yes. Many were. Many were.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
Many lost their churches.
VIVION LENON BREWER:
Mm-hm. And when we tried at one point to get a very simple statement in favor of public education, we were able to get so few ministers to sign it, it was incredible. But this was all a part: they dared not take a stand if they were going to stay here. A few, of course, did.
ELIZABETH JACOWAY:
But most of those who spoke out in a very strong way have since moved on.