Documenting the American South Logo
oral histories of the American South
Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Frances Pauley, July 18, 1974. Interview G-0046. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Limits to success of the Southern Regional Council

Pauley describes her decision to leave the Georgia Council in the late 1960s. According to Pauley, she left in part because she believed it was time for black leadership to take control of the organization. At the same time, she believed that the Southern Regional Council had failed to adequately address what she saw as key problems, namely poverty and welfare issues. Moreover, Pauley believed that the Southern Regional Council failed to adequately fund local organizations. Her comments are demonstrative of the inner workings of this organization and the limits to its successes in trying to support a regional 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:
Why did you quit?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Well, I thought it was time we had black leadership, one. Two, the Southern Regional Council wasn't helpful.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Why weren't they helpful?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Well, I don't know. They just never seemd to be sympathetic with many of the things that we did. We got interested in welfare rights, and we organized welfare rights groups. A lot of places where you couldn't get any whites for a council you could get blacks in welfare rights. We had about forty different groups around the state; some places had councils and welfare rights groups. I wanted to continue to work in welfare rights after I left the Council.
JACQUELYN HALL:
People on the Georgia Council didn't like your work with welfare rights?
FRANCES PAULEY:
The Councils generally weren't interested in the very poor. The Council work got harder and harder and harder. We expanded our program until it was just about killing us, and yet we didn't have enough money to hire any more people. And Southern Regional Council hindered us in raising money instead of helping us.
JACQUELYN HALL:
How did that happen?
FRANCES PAULEY:
Well, they didn't want to take grants and have it go through them to us. They seemed to be jealous of us getting the money, rather than them, you know, like they were competitive. I feel like they made a big mistake in not backing up the local councils. I think the Southern Regional Council could have been much stronger today and be more effective in the South if they had helped the local councils.
JACQUELYN HALL:
Because they have no local base . . .
FRANCES PAULEY:
They don't have, and they should have. And they're not a membership organization, and they're just a little group of people that's gotten so ingrown. And it seems to me that if they had encouraged and helped the local councils instead of trying to kill them off, they would have been better off. And I'm sure the Council would too.