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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Rebecca Clark, June 21, 2000. Interview K-0536. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Frank Porter Graham treats African Americans well

In this excerpt, Clark remembers how kindly Frank Porter Graham treated African Americans. The first time she walked through a white person's front door, it was at Graham's house. That such an apparently small courtesy so impressed Clark reveals the depth of racial animosity—and the rigidity of racial etiquette—sustained by Jim Crow.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Rebecca Clark, June 21, 2000. Interview K-0536. 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

But anyway, right in front of the university library, the tree still stands. There would be some white fellows and maybe one black standing there to chat with us about the work and all of that and about raises. But not knowing, until I received this little bit of documentary here in the last few years, that Dr. Frank Graham was in our corner. But I knew Dr. Frank Graham was a mighty fine man because all that time, my husband was a custodian, and he was working at the South Building. And on Sunday mornings, I would put the children’s clothes out and my husband would get them ready for Sunday school. And he always went down and got the mail and bring it up for Dr. Graham to review. And there was one Sunday, John had the children all ready, took them with him. Dr. Graham took him by the hand and he said, “John, you can do what you have to do and I’ll take the children to the post office.” That’s the type of man Dr. Frank Porter Graham was. But not knowing it at that time, he was in our corner. But I, my uncle and I, we were fighting for more monies. So we set up an appointment with Dr. Graham. We went down to his house; he told us what time to be there on Sunday. We walked down to his house and walked up his long gravel walk. He stood at the steps and beckoned us in as if we were one of his own. We sat down in the living room. First time I had ever really walked in a white person’s front door. And he sat down and chatted with us, talking about the situation on the jobs. And I was still young, still reaching out to help others and help myself.