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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 >>

Coy's impressions of the Southern Schools for Workers

While Coy remained committed to the YWCA, Louise Leonard McLaren became increasingly radical. Eventually, she and Lois MacDonald founded the Southern Schools for Workers, and in this excerpt, Coy describes what the lessons at the schools were like.

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 It seems that you were quite close to Louise Leonard during this period. Do you remember her ever getting disillusioned with the Y?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I don't remember, but I know Louise grew in political thinking, she and Mac. I don't remember the details, but I remember that when we lived in New York—I don't think she was working for the YW—I think she and Mac both turned to the left somewhat. Mac has a habit of writing long, long letters in longhand, just over pages and pages. I could hardly finish the letters. [laughters] I must write to him, though. He said, "Why don't I ever hear from you?" He's so good, and he wishes he were back driving a taxi. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you remember Louise Leonard thinking about doing something other than the Y like setting up a southern summer school?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Yes, I remember when she was going to do that. MARY FREDERICKSON Do you remember anything about making the transition from the YWCA organization to this kind of workers' school? Why did she want to create a new organization?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
I guess she wanted to teach all kinds of southern workers, men as well as women, and she had some people in New York that were interested. And so I think she thought it would be good to have a school in the summer. She was married to Mac then. I don't know what she did in the winter; I guess trying to get ready for the summer, to raise money and things like that. MARY FREDERICKSON But you don't remember talking to her and ever having her say something like, "The YWCA, because of its tie to employers within the community and because it gets money from the employers, can never do anything as far as really changing the social situation." Was she ever that explicit about what she was trying to do?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
She was all for trade unions, but I don't know. You knew that Leo Hilberman taught for her. [Interruption]
MILDRED PRICE COY:
. . . the southern summer school. There was one student there named Willie. I can't think of Willie's last name; he was a cotton mill worker. MARY FREDERICKSON Helms?
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Maybe it was Helms. Did you meet him? MARY FREDERICKSON No.
MILDRED PRICE COY:
Willie talked in the worst southern accent I've ever heard. And Leo Huberman was just crazy about Willie. Here he was, this cotton mill worker, and he just talked so southern you could hardly understand him, but he had the most advanced ideas. One day Leo was carrying on a discussion, and he talked about workers having guns: should they have guns? And so they argued and argued. Some of them thought they should. Finally he said, "Well, Willie, what do you think?" He says, "Leo, the workers should not have guns." Of course, that was what Leo wanted him to say. I never forgot that.