Title: Oral History Interview with Margaret Kennedy Goodwin, September 26, 1997. Interview R-0113.
Interviewer: Hornsby, Angela
Interviewee: Goodwin, Margaret Kennedy
Abstract: Margaret Kennedy Goodwin was born in Clarkton, North Carolina, in 1918. Just two years later, her family relocated to Durham, North Carolina, because of her father's job with North Carolina Mutual. In this interview, Goodwin speaks at length about the African American community in Durham during the 1930s and 1940s. Describing a thriving African American business center and a close-knit community that treated one another like extended family, Goodwin laments that urban renewal programs of the 1970s and 1980s ultimately led to the disintegration of that sense of community. Goodwin also speaks at length about the prominent role religion had played in her life—primarily by way of her family's involvement with the White Rock Baptist Church—and her educational and career aspirations. In 1933, at the age of fifteen, Goodwin left Durham to attend Talladega College in Alabama, where she met her future husband. After they were married, they lived briefly in Washington, D.C., before returning to Durham. In 1941, her husband was killed in the war; Goodwin was left alone to care for her infant daughter. She had been working at Lincoln Hospital as a technician in the radiology laboratory since 1938 and continued to do so in subsequent decades. While arguing that she did not see herself as a career woman of choice, Goodwin describes the kinds of obstacles African American women faced professionally, along with the challenges of being a single, working mother. For Goodwin, the supportive role of her family helped assuage the kinds of tensions that many other women in her position faced. Goodwin also discusses at length her desire to become a doctor. Explaining that most women during those years could expect to find employment as nurses, teachers, or secretaries (especially at North Carolina Mutual), she was always encouraged to pursue her interests in science during her childhood. While her goal of becoming a doctor never came to fruition, she expresses content with her accomplishments at Lincoln Hospital.