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Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007).
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  • Abstract
    Dr. Salter Cochran and his wife, Doris Cochran, discuss their activism in the Weldon-Roanoke Rapids area of North Carolina. Extremely well-educated, worldly, and, in Salter's case, with military experience, the Cochrans arrived in North Carolina with progressive views on race and a determination to push for racial justice. They were distressed to find entrenched racism among white residents and a reluctance to challenge it among African Americans. Additionally, the Cochrans' activism inhibited friendships and even inspired threats of violence. But it also succeeded in desegregating some of the area's institutions, including a school (which their children were the first to integrate) and a hospital. Outsiders though they were, they continued to agitate for racial justice in forums ranging from PTA meetings to medical society conventions. As they recall their decades of activism, they reflect on racism and justice, and they evaluate the successes and failures of the movement to which they contributed. This interview will provide readers with a great deal of information about race, desegregation, poverty, and health in North Carolina.
    Excerpts
  • Segregation in Washington, D.C., and a safe haven at Howard University
  • Discrimination in the army during World War II
  • Discrimination motivates black medical students to work hard
  • Finding a "slave mentality" in Weldon, North Carolina
  • Activism leads to threats
  • Scheming to exclude blacks from hospital jobs
  • Forcing desegregation on resistant hospital personnel
  • A confrontational style of integrationism
  • Anti-unionism among doctors on mill owners' payrolls
  • Lobbying against race-based gerrymandering
  • African Americans internalize whites' degrading treatment
  • Segregated medical education in North Carolina
  • Remembering one racist organization and one anti-poverty organization
  • Reflections on the future of racism
  • Some positive changes in medical profession, but not enough African Americans in supervisory positions
  • Lack of communication, exacerbated by racism, causes problems in the health profession
  • Reflections on race, integration, and child-rearing
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  • Finding aid to the Southern Oral History Program Collection
  • Database of all Southern Oral History Program Collection interviews
  • The Southern Oral History Program transcripts presented here on Documenting the American South undergo an editorial process to remove transcription errors. Texts may differ from the original transcripts held by the Southern Historical Collection.

    Funding from the Institute for Museum and Library Services supported the electronic publication of this title.