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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 >>

Hollow support and visceral opposition from southern whites during the Albany movement

Pauley describes white reactions to the Albany movement in 1961. According to Pauley, white support of the movement was sparse and hollow at best. Here, she terms many of the whites who came out of alleged support for the movement as "wide-eyed liberals that liked to talk about having been to Albany." Even worse, according to Pauley, were the whites who responded viscerally and she cites the hate mail she received as a result of her involvement with the movement. Her recollections here offer an interesting counterpoint to her otherwise successful efforts to build bridges betweeen whites and blacks within the civil rights movement.

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:
Were there any other southern white women in those situations?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Some screwballs that used to come down to see what was going on. I used to get so angry with them. Dr. Anderson, who was the head of the movement, had a house that was a very nice, new house, you know, probably two bedrooms, maybe three bedrooms. It was the head-quarters of the movement in Albany, and everybody from out of town came there. They expected to be bedded down and to be fed. And those people would come from all over the United States and eat the food, and do you think they would do anything about bringing in any food or anything? I just thought it was terrible.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Reporters came and stayed there?
FRANCES PAULEY:
No, the reporters stayed at the motel. They might drop by but they were where the action was - at the church or the jail or on the street. They were just hangers-on, just wide-eyed liberals that liked to talk about having been to Albany.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Right.
FRANCES PAULEY:
And I remember one time one of them asked Mrs. Anderson where they could spend the night. She said, "There's not a place except our bed." And he said, "Well, we hate to take your bed, but if you don't have any other . . . " And he took it! I mean, he took Dr. Anderson's bed. One time I went down there and ate, but I took a stack of pies from the motel, nice warm apple pies. They told me it was the first time anybody from out of town had ever come in here and brought anything to eat. And all the Negroes in the community would cook up stuff and bring it over. One thing the Council did was to send out a letter, "Occupant Mail," to the white people in Albany, asking them to be reasonable and negotiate. I thought I'd get some nice answers. I got 278 nasty letters. One of them was on a card, and it said, "We know God made snakes and rats and roaches, but why he made you, we'll never know."
JACQUELYN HALL:
Did you get any positive responses?
FRANCES PAULEY:
No, I think I got one from somebody that didn't live there. I was surprised. I thought there'd be some decent people. We kept trying to make a bridge some way. We organized a prayer group, some black women and white women in town, and that didn't work. That petered out. We got some black and white businessmen together who were worried about business. They met secretly at night. We had to make sure that there wouldn't be a majority of blacks. They met out at the Episcopal church at the edge of town. That did last longer than some of the others. We tried to organize the Council. It failed. There was one lady, one white lady in Albany that invited me to come to supper at her house when her husband was out of town. He worked at the air base; they weren't really natives. That was the only time any white person ever asked me to have a cup of coffee with them in that city, much less come to their house.