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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frances Pauley, July 18, 1974. Interview G-0046. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Uniting black and white civil rights leaders in Albany, Georgia

Pauley again emphasizes her goal to unify white and black activists in the civil rights movement, focusing specifically on the cooperative efforts of the Georgia Council and SNCC in Albany, Georgia. Here, she describes the decision of SNCC to bring in prominent civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr. for the Albany movement. According to Pauley, this was a successful attempt in joining together black and white leaders in a common purpose.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Frances Pauley, July 18, 1974. Interview G-0046. 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

JACQUELYN HALL:
Was there a difference in the people that joined the Southwest Council and the people who were working with SNCC? Did they tend to be older people or more middle-class people?
FRANCES PAULEY:
No, we had the same people in the Southwest Georgia organization, but we would not organize unless it was interracial. The "three" was exaggerated; we probably had twenty-five.
JACQUELYN HALL:
The same people overlapping in both organizations. Why did you want the other organization then?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Because we were trying to get the whites we thought, and I still think, that we must progress together. We started out with a bunch of whites. We started out with about seven preachers that really were great but all of them either got run out or they left town. There was a Presbyterian minister and he left town; an Episcopal minister - two Episcopal ministers - and both of them left; a Baptist minister, and he left; and the Methodist minister; he left. There were five ministers that left.
JACQUELYN HALL:
You had them in the Southwest Georgia Council?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Yes, but they didn't leave because they were in the Council; they left because they had taken a stand in the community.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why were they calling on you to come down, rather than calling on someone from the Southern Regional Council, for example?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Well, they knew me, I guess. They didn't know any of those people. They all stayed inside. You know, I'd just go whenever and wherever they asked me. One night we were over in Brunswick and we got a call. And this was really at the beginning of the Albany movement, or near, the beginning of the Albany movement (before the Baker County problem). So we raced over there, getting there about 2 o'clock in the morning. We got to the hotel and called Claude Sitton of The New York Times and asked where the SNCC meeting was. And he gave me a telephone number. They told us to come down a certain road and watch for somebody who would pilot us. So we rode down the road and stopped the car. It was dark as pitch; and the SNCC kid got in the car. And we rode on to where the meeting was at somebody's house. All the local leaders were in jail. This just left a sort of fragmented group meeting. They just didn't know what to do. I just sat there. So they began to talk about whether or not they should ask King to come and help them. You know, there's been a lot of controversy about whether King just went or whether SNCC asked him to come to Albany. Well, I'll have you to know SNCC asked him.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Is that right?
FRANCES PAULEY:
They decided to ask him to come.
JACQUELYN HALL:
But the leaders were not involved in making the decision . . .
FRANCES PAULEY:
The leaders . . . I can't remember. I don't think Charles Sherrod was there. You see, there were two Charles that were working in Albany. There was Charles Sherrod and Charles Jones that were working together in SNCC down there, and it seems to me that one of them was there and the other one was in jail. They used to try to work it that way, so one would be out. The group decided that they would ask King to come. There wasn't much controversy at all about not asking him. And they got on the phone and called him. He said he'd consider and let them know, and he called back and said he'd come. Now we were there, so I know that was the truth. There were not any difficulties that I saw in the beginning there between SNCC and SCLC. And Andy came.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Andy Young came?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Yes, and Wyatt T. Walker, and seems to me Wyatt T. was more a leader than anyone else. We were trying to work out some negotiations with the officials.
JACQUELYN HALL:
With the sheriff and the . . . who were you trying to negotiate with?
FRANCES PAULEY:
With the police chief, the mayor, and city fathers. The demands that the local group had made were on the city, demands concerning city services particularly. And so what I was trying to do was, again, trying to be a bridge and trying to get a group together. We finally were successful in getting a group of the black leaders and the white leaders together. The Committee drew up an agreement, and the blacks in the movement went along with it. The Committee took it to the white city council, and the council wouldn't agree and sent back the most insulting telegram I have ever heard in all my life. When the news came, we were in the little back room in the church where the meetings went on practically all the time. King, I remember King was there, and I remember Wyatt T. Walker was there, and I remember Dr. Anderson was there. He was head of the movement at that time. I can't remember whether C. B. or Slater were there or not at that moment; they might have been and they might not have been. But I do remember those people.