Leadership of southern women
Queen discusses the impact of southern women leaders such as Dorothy Tillman and Jessie Daniel Ames. In relating a specific incident in which Tillman worked to assuage tensions during an event at University of Georgia, Queen expresses her admiration for southern women who worked to advocate for social justice. In addition, she reflects on the work of Ames as another example of southern women's leadership during the twentieth century.
Citing this Excerpt
Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. 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
There is one other experience
that I had at Georgia that I failed to comment on and I would like to do
so just briefly because it is related to some people who have made a
great contribution to change in the South. It was an experience that I
had with Morris Abrams and Mrs. Tilley, Mrs. M.E. Tilley. That was back
in the days when we had a kind of Celebration of Brotherhood Sunday or
Brotherhood Week. The University of Georgia Religious Association had a
program on brotherhood. We invited to the campus Mrs. Tilley, Morris
Abrams, who was, you know, who challenged the county unit system. He was
a graduate of the University of Georgia and went on to be a Rhodes
Scholar from Georgia. He was from Fayetteville,
Georgia, a very provincial area. You know, he was on television with Eli
Evans about a year ago, and he talked about his life as a Jew, coming
from this small town in south Georgia. Well, he had really become one of
the shining lights in Atlanta and all over Georgia, as a matter of fact.
We had Morris Abrams, Mrs. Tilley and a Catholic lawyer, a Catholic, a
Protestant and a Jew. This created a kind of stir in Athens and the
KA's again, if you can believe it, they were more
conservative than the KA's here and their high priest was
really Robert E. Lee, the flag flying . They
raised quite a fuss about this. It was Mrs. Tilley that really touched
something in them and they referred to her as "that damned old
civil rights woman," and said that they were going to throw
rotten eggs at her. But they didn't do this. I remember that
I had a little gathering for the three speakers and some students at my
apartment that night and I'll never forget the great tribute
that Morris Abrams paid to Mrs. Tilley. She reminded him of a woman in
one of Faulkner's novels. You remember the woman who sat at
the door of the jail and knitted and kept the angry mob from getting a
Negro that was there and hanging him. So, I remember that and then of
course, it brings back memories of not only Mrs. Tilley, but Mrs. Ames
and the fellowship of the concerned women
throughout the South who did an enormous amount of work to prevent
lynching in the South.
- JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
Was Mrs. Tilley …the woman in the Faulkner novel,
Intruder in the Dust was a frail …
- ANNE QUEEN:
She was a very frail woman and very petite, looked Old South in many
ways, just a lovely woman. She had many of the qualities that Mrs.
Roosevelt had. I remember saying to her, "Oh, Mrs. Tilley, your
husband must be very proud of you." She said, "Oh no,
it's the other way around. I am very proud of my
husband." Well, those were great women. Now, since Jackie Hall
did her dissertation on Mrs. Ames, I'll tell you a nice story
that George Mitchell, who was head of the Southern Regional Council,
told me. Once, there was an angry mob in Mississippi going to get a
black and take him out and lynch him and Mrs. Ames organized a group of
women in the county. They circulated a petition, having women sign a
petition which stated, "We do not wish any angry mob to protect
our womanhood," because she had gone to the county sheriff and
said, "Why do you allow this to happen?"
and he had said, "Oh, Mrs. Ames, you don't
understand. We are doing this to protect Southern white
womanhood." So, she drew up a petition and had every woman that
she could find sign it, saying "we want no one to protect
our womanhood but duly elected officials. We
won't no angry mob." Those were great, daring women
and I look forward to reading Jackie's dissertation on Mrs.
Ames. As a Southern woman, I'm very fond of these women.