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Oral History Interview with Mildred Price Coy, April 26, 1976. Interview G-0020. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    In 1976, historian Mary Frederickson interviewed white civil rights activist Mildred Price Coy about the development of her egalitarian ideals, her involvement in various justice movements during the twentieth century, and the societal changes she witnessed. At the time of the interview, Coy and her husband, Harold Coy, were living in Mexico with a group of expatriates who had fled McCarthyism and the Red Scare. Coy begins the interview with a history of the Price family. Though Coy had repudiated many of the social ideals she learned as a child, she still seems to feel great pride in the fact that she descends from several generations of southerners. She describes how her family dealt with the economic destruction following the Civil War and theorizes how that experience influenced how her grandmother raised her children. During Coy's childhood, her father moved the family back and forth between nearby towns and the family farm. Though they owned almost as little as their tenants, she remembers feeling superior to the children whose parents worked her father's land. Coy describes her father as a very lonely man who could not connect to his peers or his family. She did enjoy a warm relationship with her mother, however. Her parents shared a commitment to education for their children, and though both had been raised in religious families, faith played only a small role in Coy's childhood. Coy says that as she and her siblings grew older, the girls tended to become more racially liberal while the boys remained very conservative. Because there was no high school near their farm, Coy's parents sent her to live with her uncle in Miami, Florida. After graduation, she attended the North Carolina College for Women for three years, which she remembers as being very supportive and thought-provoking. She transferred to the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, but she did not have the same connection to UNC that she had to the women's college. After graduating from UNC, Coy worked for several years in various rural school districts around North Carolina. Louise Leonard McLaren then recruited her to work as a secretary for the Young Women's Christian Association (YWCA). Her first job for the YWCA was in Lynchburg, Virginia, where she worked with local female shoe workers who, while unwilling to join a union, seemed to appreciate her presence. Though she acknowledges that the YWCA did radically change southern society, she does not believe that it went as far as it could have. Coy went on to found the Southern Schools for Workers with Lois McDonald.

    NOTE: Audio for this interview is not available.

    Excerpts
  • The relationship between Coy's grandparents
  • Coy remembers her grandmother
  • Coy's family and their relationship with their impoverished neighbors
  • Coy's father fails to relate well to his children
  • Coy relates better to her mother; her parents care about her education
  • Some of Coy's siblings became liberals, while others remained conservative
  • Coy's family did not spend much time on religion
  • Coy's family and their relationship with their impoverished neighbors
  • Coy's experience in a small country school
  • Coy moves to Miami, Florida, to attend high school
  • Coy remembers her time at the North Carolina College for Women
  • Absence of political consciousness at the North Carolina College for Women
  • Coy never fits in at UNC-Chapel Hill
  • Coy remembers Franklin Graham before he became a liberal
  • Coy's experiences as a young schoolteacher in the rural South
  • Coy trains to be a secretary for the YWCA
  • The YWCA exposes Coy to new ideas and influences
  • Coy's work for the YWCA in Lynchburg
  • The limits that the South placed on the YWCA's work
  • Coy's impressions of the Southern Schools for Workers
  • Learn More
  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • Subjects
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Women in trade-unions
  • Young Women's Christian associations
  • Graham, Frank Porter, 1886-
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.