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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, April 30, 1976. Interview G-0049-1. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Working for the Friends Service Committee as a "messenger"

Queen describes her five years spent working for the Friends Service Committee from 1951 to 1956. During those years, Queen was based in Greensboro, North Carolina, but spent time traveling throughout the South to recruit students. Queen's comments are revealing of some of the challenges and tasks of the civil rights movement during the mid-1950s and she stresses the importance of keeping activists connected. As such, she describes her own role as that of a "messenger between committed groups and communities, many of whom were living just tragically isolated lives."

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

JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
It was in 1951 that you left Georgia and came to Greensboro?
ANNE QUEEN:
Yes, and that was sort of the beginning of a new decade in the South when things were really beginning to change and the pressures were coming for change fast and furious. Those are the five years that I traveled for the Friends Service Committee. I look back on it now as a kind of roaming of the South. I remember when Bob Johnson of the Wesley Foundation gave his closing sermon before he left the Wesley Foundation to take a traveling job. He had been here and he talked about the South. It's a beautiful sermon. Have you seen that sermon?
JOSEPH HERZENBERG:
No.
ANNE QUEEN:
I'll get you a copy of it, and when he talked about leaving this job to roam the South, I said to him that I came to Chapel Hill at the same time that he did after roaming the South. I wouldn't take anything for the five years that I traveled in the South. Those were years of tremendous change and I recruited students for Friends' projects. I think that in a sense was a kind of vehicle for a more important job and I regret that the Friends don't do this anymore. During that time, there was tremendous need for people to serve as a kind of messenger between committed groups and communities, many of whom were living just tragically isolated lives. I tried to serve as that kind of grapevine messenger, to keep one group informed of what another group was doing. The Fellowship of Southern Churchmen were doing this kind of thing. I can remember how exciting it was always to go to Macon, Georgia to Mercer University to visit where McLeod Bryan was. He always gathered in his living room when I would go there, a group of people who (that's where I met Will Campbell), a group of people who were really committed to the South and in this case, they were committed Christians from a Baptist school. I remember it was through McLeod Bryan, who now is at Wake Forest …and by the way, one thing that I failed to say, when I was in New Haven, I was a member of his church and did my field work under him …no this was volunteer work, my field work was to be president of the women's dormitory and I never could figure out how that was justified as field work, but Dean Weigle did so …but McLeod Bryan was the pastor of the Mt. Olivet Baptist Church in the Winchester Community. Then he was at Mercer teaching religion and he always gathered into his home students who were really on the cutting edge of change in the South. The same thing was true in Nashville. I expect it was during those years that I came to really appreciate the Department of History here. I met George Tindall, I met Cliff Johnson, who was at LeMoyne, someone whose last name was Harper, and Dewey Grantham …the Granthams always had a gathering for me in their home in Nashville. And what I would try to do on those occasions would be to sort of take a message from one group to another what they were doing. I did this in the process of recruiting students. I think for that period in the South it was very important. I was not the only one doing this.