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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mildred Price Coy, April 26, 1976. Interview G-0020. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Some of Coy's siblings became liberals, while others remained conservative

As Coy and her siblings aged, the girls tended to become more racially liberal while the boys remained very conservative and southern. Coy explores why that divide happened.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mildred Price Coy, April 26, 1976. Interview G-0020. 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

MARY FREDERICKSON Your brothers and your sisters ended up in very different places, politically and economically and in a lot of different ways. I wondered if you had any ideas about why that happened.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I had one younger brother. My brothers were southerners. They had [END OF TAPE 1, SIDE A] [TAPE 1, SIDE B] [START OF TAPE 1, SIDE B]
MILDRED PRICE COY:
My brothers were very sweet to me. I felt very close to them. So I'll just go a little bit ahead. When I found out about things, when I began to find out about race and war and everything, I thought they'd be interested, but they were terribly distressed and called me a nigger-lover. And we lived in Greensboro then. And one of my brothers came and he said, "Now, Mil, the best thing for you to do is to get married. That's the best thing for you to do." Well, I didn't have anybody to marry [laughter], and I wasn't particularly interested right then either. But recently I wish I had saved my sister Branson's letter and Mary's letter. Both of them wrote to me—I don't know how they happened to at just this particular time—and told me that they appreciated the fact that I learned about these things and then I told them. So therefore they praised me for . . . MARY FREDERICKSON Influencing them.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes. Because I found out about it, and I thought they'd be interested. And I was so excited about it all; here was a whole world I knew nothing about. But my brothers never did change. They never did get a world view of things. They were all smart; they made money. But they never did. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you think by the time you were making all of these discoveries they had already acquired too many vested interests to . . .
MILDRED PRICE COY:
They're just like most of the southerners. They're not interested. Southerners are just like the American colony here in Mexico. Do you think they really care about the Mexican people? I wouldn't want that to get out here. [Laughter] But it's sort of a United States pattern. MARY FREDERICKSON Your brother Tom, at least, certainly left the South, didn't he, and travelled?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
All of them except my brother Paul left. MARY FREDERICKSON So it wasn't just that they were very provincial southerners.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, they were provincial southerners. My brother Tom was always terribly nice to me. He did try to talk to me once when he lived in California and Harold and I stopped by there to see them. He told me a little bit about his life. And I never did have any arguments with them, but they never changed. They never got a world view. Never did. Even though my brother Jimmy lived in Bolivia, he never understood it. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you think that the reason your sisters and you could move in very different directions was perhaps because you were closer to your mother and she had a kinder view toward all people?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
My mother was a conservative. She once told me when she lived in Greensboro, "Mildred, you can bring your black friends here if you want to, but I will not shake hands with them." This was the black YWCA secretary I worked with in Chicago, and she was coming to North Carolina. But my mother did shake hands with her [laughter], and she was very nice when she came. MARY FREDERICKSON But it didn't change her mind?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
My mother was always conservative in her political views. MARY FREDERICKSON How did she feel about the changes that you went through politically and socially?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I didn't argue with her much about it. There wasn't any point in it. When I went back to Chapel Hill when I raced to tell everybody about it, the professors there weren't interested and urged me to give up the idea. So I rather kept my trap shut. I thought everybody would be as interested as I was when I was at Asheville, you know. I thought they'd all, "Why, isn't that interesting? Why, I never thought of that." But they didn't. They just argued with me about it, so I didn't run around talking. MARY FREDERICKSON So most of the support that you had in the earliest years came from your sisters?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, only it took them a long time. They went to New York. They'd met up with other people. Lois MacDonald was a great influence.