Title: Oral History Interview with Paul Hardin Jr., December 8, 1989. Interview C-0071.
Interviewer: Mathews, Donald
Interviewee: Hardin, Paul
Subjects: Southern States--Race relations Methodist Church--Clergy--North Carolina
Abstract: Bishop Paul Hardin presided over the Council of Methodist Bishops during the 1960s and started the process of integrating the denomination. In this interview, he recalls how he got involved in Methodist ministry and became one of the first theology students at Emory University. He also describes some of the issues unique to leading a southern congregation, especially controversy over racial integration. Hardin served as pastor for the First Methodist Church of Birmingham throughout the early 1960s and remembers welcoming black attendees while excluding the White Citizen's Council against the wishes of his congregation. He used humor and personal conviction to oppose Governor George Wallace's segregationist stance and push white and black pastors past their reservations about working together. His commitment to interracial cooperation stemmed from his support of the reunification of the southern and northern Methodists in 1939 and from his father's early support for integration. He feels his life work contrasts with Martin Luther King's criticism of him and other progressive ministers in the "Letter from Birmingham Jail."