Title: Oral History Interview with Phyllis Tyler, October 10, 1988. Interview C-0080.
Interviewer: Myers, Terri
Interviewee: Tyler, Phyllis
Subjects: North Carolina--Race relations Civil rights workers--North Carolina Women in politics--North Carolina North Carolina--Biography
Abstract: Quaker and civil rights activist Phyllis Tyler discusses her involvement in the civil rights movement and her perception of race relations. Phyllis Tyler first moved to North Carolina during the Second World War when she and her husband joined the Blessed Community in Celo. After converting to Quakerism when she met her husband in Minnesota, Tyler became actively involved in pacifism and other human rights issues during these years. In 1953, she moved to Raleigh with her family, where they lived for more than forty years. During the 1950s and 1960s, Tyler's children also became involved in various protest movements, and she describes two incidents in which two of her sons were targeted by the Ku Klux Klan. Here, and elsewhere, she discusses the nature of racial prejudice and its evolution over the years. She emphasizes the role of the religious community in the civil rights movement, particularly that of the Institute of Religion Speakers, the United Church, and the Friends. Tyler also participated in the League of Women Voters. It was during efforts to integrate the League that she first met Vivian Irving, who became her lifelong friend. Tyler describes the nature of their interracial friendship and offers anecdotes about their efforts to challenge racial barriers, such as their successful endeavor to integrate a Raleigh movie theater. Tyler also speaks at length about the impact of the black power movement on the interracial aspects of the civil rights movement, which she argued rendered alliances between African Americans and whites increasingly unfeasible.