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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Olive Stone, August 13, 1975. Interview G-0059-4. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Anecdote regarding the segregation of an African American visitor to Montevallo University

Stone offers an anecdote from her years teaching at Montevallo University in Montgomery, Alabama, during the early 1930s. In describing a visit to campus from Myra Callis from Tuskegee Institute to Montevallo University, Stone recalls her surprise that the administration would not allow Mrs. Callis to dine in the school's cafeteria. Instead, Mrs. Callis had a private lunch with Stone in her office. Stone recalls her embarrassment at the school's actions and explains that it was during these years that she was particularly drawn to radical politics and issues of social justice.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Olive Stone, August 13, 1975. Interview G-0059-4. 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

Maybe we can start with that; with specific things in 1929-1934 that we have yet to cover.
OLIVE STONE:
When I went to Huntingdon it was after a final summer quarter at University of Chicago. And one link between Chicago and Alabama was the visit to Montevallo of my former schoolmate, Mrs. Myra Callis of Tuskegee. Her husband, Dr. Callis, was with the Veteran's Administration in Tuskegee and she wanted to observe our child welfare program, probably with a view to setting up a parallel course at Tuskegee Institute. She was a very able woman. My colleague, Dr. John Steelman, helped introduce her as a descendant of a noted free Negro family and she spoke at several classes. But the college decided that she couldn't eat in the dining-room where I usually had lunch with students, but would have to be served in my office. And that's where she had her lunch, to my great embarrassment. She handled it with considerable aplomb.
SHERNA GLUCK:
Well, did you have lunch with her then, in the office?
OLIVE STONE:
Yes, in the office.
SHERNA GLUCK:
Some students also, or just the two of you?
OLIVE STONE:
No, just the two of us, because we didn't know how students would receive this.
SHERNA GLUCK:
So Mrs. Callis just stayed for a few days then?
OLIVE STONE:
She just stayed one day and went back that night, so we didn't have to provide sleeping quarters for her.
SHERNA GLUCK:
Was that deliberate; or, I mean, had she planned on staying?
OLIVE STONE:
No, she hadn't planned on staying. She had planned just that much of a trip that would get her back by train to Tuskegee. 1 * I met her train in Calera and because she was a woman I could have her ride beside me on the front seat of my car. This was according to the racial etiquette of that period of history. But it was a startling thing to me, though I should have understood, that the reaction in the … I think perhaps the students might have accepted more readily than the authorities, such as the head of the dining-room. Our president was a very liberal man, Dr. O. C. Carmichael, who was an Oxford graduate and very broad-minded. But I suppose I didn't appeal to him about that.
SHERNA GLUCK:
But it was mainly that you didn't expect the same sort of attitude? Was that it?
OLIVE STONE:
That was it. But I could understand the resistance and complied, hoping that Mrs. Callis, whom I got to know a good deal better when I went to Washington during the forties, understood. So, through the social work organizations, college groups, and YWCA meetings, I got somewhat involved in liberal and radical programs, especially race relations.