Title: Oral History Interview with George Simkins, April 6, 1997. Interview R-0018.
Interviewer: Thomas, Karen Kruse
Interviewee: Simkins, George
Abstract: Greensboro dentist George Simkins attended Meharry Medical College in Nashville, Tennessee, from 1944 to 1948, when only two dental schools accepted black students. He assumed that segregation would continue, but soon set about trying to undo it: he fought segregation at a local golf course but again lost the case before the Supreme Court, this time on a technicality; he sought to desegregate a swimming pool; and in what may have been his most significant civil rights achievement, he built a case against segregation in two Greensboro hospitals. The Supreme Court decided Simkins v. Moses H. Cone Memorial Hospital in the plaintiffs' favor, ending the legal segregation of medical care. In this interview, he describes his various civil rights efforts and the responses of his white opponents, who resisted desegregation by fighting it in court as well as with harassment and threats. While Simkins won a major civil rights victory in the early 1960s, he sees a return of segregation in public schools, and a lack of sympathy for civil rights among political and judicial leaders. This interview will provide researchers with insights into a motivated individual's efforts to undo segregation and the hostile response of the white community, a response that continues to resonate today.