Title: Oral History Interview with Salter and Doris Cochran, April 12, 1997. Interview R-0014.
Interviewer: Thomas, Karen Kruse
Interviewee: Cochran, Doris
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.