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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Cornelia Spencer Love, January 26, 1975. Interview G-0032. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

White philanthropy toward blacks in Chapel Hill

Cornelia Spencer Love felt warmly toward a black janitor at the UNC library where she worked. When he needed funds to support a swimming pool at a black recreation center in Chapel Hill, she sold some stocks and funded the project. She also paid for the man's wife to be fitted for a diaphragm to help prevent them from having so many children.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Cornelia Spencer Love, January 26, 1975. Interview G-0032. 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

LEE KESSLER:
Were you involved in any other enterprises to help black people before your association with Sedalia?
CORNELIA SPENCER LOVE:
Well, I've always been very, very fond of them. I've known some charmers. And I still do, with Adolphus Clark, who looks after my house when I'm not there. He was on the library staff for many years. He is now eighty-five years old. But he is driving his Buick and when I would go off on trips, I would write him to meet me at the airport and there would be faithful Clark, as we called him. Dr. Wilson said, "We'll call you Clark." He was there in 1923 and he worked on the staff from then on. He was in the First World War in France and could tell you all about his experiences there. He was an uneducated man, he could read and write and all that, but . . . .
LEE KESSLER:
What did he do in the library?
CORNELIA SPENCER LOVE:
A person of the greatest character. Well, he was janitor for a good many years and then they put him in charge of the mail room and made him a member of the staff, which meant that he had privileges, retirement and all that sort of thing. Just a man of sterling character, a pillar of his church, taught Sunday School and was interested in collecting money for a home for black teachers out in the country.
LEE KESSLER:
Was he part of the Roberson Street Church?
CORNELIA SPENCER LOVE:
Well, he knew about it . . .but no, it was a church in the country. It wasn't one of the Chapel Hill ones. Well, when I came back after having been abroad in 1960, he met me and I asked what he was doing and what was the news. Well, he was terribly cast down because some . . .he never told me who, and it didn't matter anyway . . . some white man had promised them money for a pool at Roberson Street Center and then, that was just at the time that blacks were beginning to show some spirit and make people mad and . . . you were a little girl in 1960.
LEE KESSLER:
I was thirteen.
CORNELIA SPENCER LOVE:
Yes, well. I have passed through so many phases in our country during the last fifty or sixty or seventy years. Each one had its character, but at this time, the blacks were beginning to show a little muscle and this white man had been made mad by something they did and so, he had withdrawn his offer of the pool. Well, it made me mad, too. Please don't . . . I'm not telling you this in any spirit of bragging, I'm showing my interest in the blacks. Now, I have never been a person of wealth, but I had a certain number of stocks and I could sell them and live on what I had left. Well, I said, "Clark, I'm going to give you the swimming pool." It was to be the first one in town, they didn't have a white one then. Well, I guess that if the two of us had realized what it entailed, we might not have done it. Because, there were so many rules and laws and regulations, you know. You can't just go out and dig a hole and put water in it, you've got to conform. But we had lots of help. I've forgotten his name [cornwall] . . . over at Chapel Hill. He's died . . . well, you wouldn't know him, anyway. Some man high up in the Athletic Department helped him a lot with advice and rules and told him what to do. And I sold stock and eventually we had a pool. It took at least a year to get it going. But Clark managed the whole thing. He had committees. His wife was another wonderful person. She taught school and I could tell you a chapter about her.
LEE KESSLER:
What was her name?
CORNELIA SPENCER LOVE:
Well, Mrs. Clark . . . Ethel. Ethel Clark. She taught a school out in the country and she took just such an interest in those young children. She came to me once about this family. They would have a child after child, one every year. They didn't even have enough shoes to go around. Well, to make one story short, I paid for Ethel to have Mrs. . . . I've forgotten her name, to have her fitted with a diaphragm. If you know what I'm talking about . . .