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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 >>

Growing awareness of racial stereotypes at a YWCA conference

Stone describes the month-long YWCA conference at Swarthmore College in 1934. Stone explains that this particular conference had a large number of prominent African American speakers. Of particular importance for Stone was the fact that despite her progressive views on race, the conference opened her eyes to racial stereotypes she had grown up with in the South.

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

This Swarthmore conference was …
Yes. This was a race relations conference in which we had twenty-nine famous Negro speakers in twenty-nine days. I'd never met so many important people in my life: E. Franklin Frazier, Ira Reid, Ralphe Bunche …
Oh, it was a very long conference.
It was a month's conference, yes. And we lived—it was summer—time and Swarthmore was not in session—in the dormitories there and held meetings. Dr. Charles Johnson was co-director with a professor from Columbia, Otto Klineberg, and dear Dr. Parks …
From Chicago?
Yes Robert Ezra Parks from Chicago was the main consultant. And we all sat at his feet, more or less, because he was a wonderful man. Though I cringed from one of the stories he told which was about having a Negro nurse whom he regarded as a "mammy" [laughter] . And I didn't care for that slant out of my new outlook … I had had a Negro nurse too [laughter] whom we loved very dearly, as well as other servants when I grew up. And we hadn't questioned our attitude because we were … kind [laughter] . But it took some exposure for me, as it did for Katharine Lumpkin (The Making of a Southerner), to become aware of my old stereotypes. Apparently by the time I went to Swarthmore I had sloughed off so many stereotypes that a fellow southerner, Prof. H. C. Brearley, of Clemson U., came up to say goodbye at the closing reception. Taking both my hands as I stood there in evening dress, he said, "You are a lovely Southern lady if I haven't agreed in the least with your point of view." While we were in Huntingdon, for instance, Mother was asked to teach a class of the nurse-maids who came with white children to Sunday School. She reported it with a great pride and a sense that this would please me, that she was teaching the Negro nurse-maids [laughter] . I said, "Well, I think that's fine, Mother [laughter] .