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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with George Simkins, April 6, 1997. Interview R-0018. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Inferior segregated black hospital

The all-black L. Richardson Memorial Hospital was inferior to the all-white hospitals in Greensboro, but blacks had no choice but to seek care there.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with George Simkins, April 6, 1997. Interview R-0018. 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

KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
You said that some of the older black doctors were reluctant to try to integrate facilities. I've heard in some places that as there were new, increasingly high-tech facilities being built, do you think that a hospital like Richardson would have continued operating even if the other two hospitals hadn't been integrated?
GEORGE SIMKINS:
Yeah, definitely. Because the demand was there.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
It was kind of a sure thing for them?
GEORGE SIMKINS:
Blacks didn't have noplace to go but L. Richardson. There was a great demand for L. Richardson. No other hospital had a waiting list like that around here. With the large population in Greensboro, they were set. You knew it was an inferior facility, but at that point, there was nothing you could do.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Because from what I've looked at, the gap between hospitals like Richardson and the newer white hospitals just kept getting bigger and bigger in terms of equipment and things like that.
GEORGE SIMKINS:
Oh, yes.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
Were a lot of black health professional community leaders, or did they take on any role outside being strictly doctors or dentists? Or did it depend on the individual?
GEORGE SIMKINS:
Some of them were on the Board of Education, some were on the Jury Commission, they took other roles. One of them was the first black on the City Council. They took part in the community, but none of them really pressed to get in these hospitals. It was because they were operating in L. Richardson, whether they were qualified or not. They didn't want to give that up.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
The state didn't try to pass any kind of regulations governing those hospitals?
GEORGE SIMKINS:
Back then, the state was part of the cause! They were segregating just like anybody else.
KAREN KRUSE THOMAS:
But it sounds like they had different standards, like you said doctors had to be board certified to operate.
GEORGE SIMKINS:
At Cone Hospital, but they didn't care [at Richardson].