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James M. Lawson was a key ally of Martin Luther King Jr. and also an important theoretician and practitioner of nonviolent protest. In this interview, he speaks about his relationship with some of the civil rights figures of the time, including Will Campbell, Kelly Miller Smith, Nelle Morton, Myles Horton, James Dombrowski, and James Holloway.
Igal Roodenko came of age during the 1930s and became increasingly involved in leftist politics during those years. During World War II he embraced philosophies of nonviolence and pacifism and worked in a camp for conscientious objectors during the conflict. He became a member of CORE during its formative years and participated in the 1947 Journey of Reconciliation, an interracial endeavor to test segregation policies on buses in the South.
Dentist George Simkins describes his efforts to desegregate hospitals and other facilities in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Journalist and activist Daisy Bates recalls working for civil rights in desegregation-era Arkansas.
Former president of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company and civic leader Asa T. Spaulding reflects on how his growing influence as a business leader allowed him to make unique contributions to dismantling segregation in Durham.
Civil rights activist Floyd McKissick was the first African American student to enroll in the law school at the University of North Carolina. In this interview, he discusses that integration effort, along with subsequent integration battles he faced as a student and as an advocate for civil rights.
Birmingham politician Arthur Shores offers his thoughts on the intersection of race and politics in his home city.
African American civil rights activist Modjeska Simkins describes her upbringing in a prosperous family during the early twentieth century. She charts her work with the Tuberculosis Association, the NAACP, and the Richland County Citizens' Committee. Throughout the interview, Simkins offers telling anecdotes about racial tensions in South Carolina, the inner workings of civil rights organizations, and relationships between leaders of the movement.
Noted historian C. Vann Woodward reflects on race relations in the American South.
John Lewis served as the chairman of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) from 1963 to 1966. In this interview, Lewis outlines his role within the civil rights movement through his participation in the sit-in movement of 1960 in Nashville, the Freedom Rides through Alabama and Mississippi in 1961, the Mississippi Freedom Summer of 1964, the Selma voter registration drive in 1965, and the shift towards the politics of black power within SNCC by 1966. Throughout the interview, he situates the activities of SNCC within the civil rights movement more broadly, focusing on issues of leadership, religion, and politics.
Ashley Davis was a member of the Black Student Movement (BSM) at the University of North Carolina during the late 1960s and early 1970s. In this interview, he describes how the BSM supported the striking food workers at UNC in 1969.
Conrad Odell Pearson grew up in Durham, North Carolina. After obtaining his law degree at Howard School of Law in the early 1930s, Pearson returned to Durham, where he became actively involved in legal struggles against segregation in higher education. In this interview, he describes his participation in various civil rights activities, his perception of African American leaders James Shepard and C. C. Spaulding, and race relations in Durham.
Ella Baker was an instrumental figure in the formation of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). In this interview, she offers a candid analysis of the formation of those organizations and an insider's perspective on the role of and interactions between various civil rights leaders, including Martin Luther King Jr.
Phyllis Tyler first moved to North Carolina during the 1940s in order to join the Blessed Community of Quakers in Celo. In the 1950s, she moved with her family to Raleigh, where she became increasingly involved in the civil rights movement. Throughout the interview, she emphasizes the changing nature of race relations from the 1950s into the 1980s.
Asa T. Spaulding, the first African American actuary in North Carolina and former president of the North Carolina Mutual Life Insurance Company, remembers and reflects on community activism in Durham, North Carolina.
Salter and Doris Cochran reflect on the many challenges that faced them in their efforts to desegregate medical care and public education in Weldon, North Carolina.
Civil rights activist Floyd McKissick evaluates the legacies of the civil rights movement and looks toward its next phase in the 1970s.
Harvey E. Beech describes his journey to becoming a lawyer fighting for legal justice. In 1951, he was one of five students who made up the first group of African Americans to attend the University of North Carolina School of Law. Beech assesses the racial changes since the mid-twentieth century and discusses racism in contemporary America.
Louise Pointer Morton describes life in rural Granville County, North Carolina, during the early twentieth century. In addition to describing social gatherings and living conditions, Morton speaks at length about her formerly enslaved grandmother's role in the founding of the Jonathon (Johnson) Creek Church, alluding to the centrality of religion as a preeminent social institution within southern African American communities.
An African American activist fights for integration in Lumberton, North Carolina.
Activist and politician Eva Clayton describes her years of service in and out of politics in Warren County, North Carolina.
Virginia Grantham discusses her thoughts on the Fellowship of Southern Churchman and her participation in it, primarily during the 1950s. In the interview, she focuses on such topics as leadership, socialism, and connections to the civil rights movement.
Joanne Peerman describes the efforts of black students to thoroughly integrate Chapel Hill High School and discusses her relationship with her father, a beloved coach at Lincoln High School and a powerful figure in the black high school community.
African American photojournalist Alexander M. Rivera describes the civil rights movement from his perspective as a reporter for the
Pittsburgh Courier. He focuses on the nature of race relations and racial violence and describes the impact of the Brown v. Board of Education decision on the changing social landscape.
Mabel Williams, wife of civil rights activist and advocate of armed self-defense Robert Williams, remembers her husband's efforts to overturn segregation in Monroe, North Carolina, in the 1960s.
Architect and politician Harvey Gantt describes his ascent from a childhood in segregated Charleston, South Carolina, to becoming the first black mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina. As a southerner, he sees the accomplishments of the civil rights movement as dramatic; as a member of the black middle class, he leans toward negotiation rather than revolt.
This is the third interview in a nine-part series of interviews with civil liberties lawyer Daniel H. Pollitt. In this interview, Pollitt discusses changes in the faculty of the UNC School of Law and the student body, paying particular attention to issues of race, gender, and student involvement in community affairs.
Quinton E. Baker reflects on how his identity as a black gay man influenced his social activism, especially his role in the 1960s civil rights protests.
Sheila Florence, among the first African Americans to desegregate Chapel Hill High School in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, remembers growing up in the segregated South and working to end desegregation.
Pauli Murray was a prominent legal activist within the civil rights and women's liberation movements. In this interview, she discusses her childhood and her education, the events leading up to her decision to pursue a career in law, the evolution of her career, her decision to enter the seminary, and her thoughts on civil rights and women's liberation.
Civil rights activist and Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) mentor Ella Josephine Baker outlines her family history, traces her growing radical tendencies, and explains the catalysts that pushed her into public activism. In this interview she discusses her work not only with SNCC, but also with the Workers' Education Project, the Cooperative League, and the NAACP.
Modjeska Simkins describes growing up in a prosperous African American family, going to school, and her thoughts on "color consciousness" during her childhood in Columbia, South Carolina. In addition, she discusses her involvement in the South Carolina Commission on Interracial Cooperation and other race organizations beginning in the 1920s, her thoughts on women's unique capabilities as leaders of social justice movements, and the nature of racial tension in the South.
Charlene Regester assesses the costs to blacks of school integration in Chapel Hill.
Physician Andrew Best recalls his encounters with racial segregation inside and outside Pitt County Memorial Hospital in in North Carolina during the civil rights era.
The Reverend Robert Lee Mangum channels his Christian faith into social action in Robeson County, North Carolina.
A white student remembers fear and violence during desegregation in Chapel Hill.
Andrew Young, the first African American congressman from Georgia since Reconstruction, describes his involvement in the early civil rights movement. After dedicating much time and energy to voter registration drives as a minister in Georgia, Young later entered politics and was first elected to Congress in 1972. Young cites the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as the decisive turning point in race relations and argues that it was this access to political power that allowed African Americans to bring to fruition other advances they had made in education, business, and social standing.
Jean Fairfax first moved to the South in 1942, where she became involved with the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen for several years. Fairfax describes the goals and activities of the Fellowship, discusses the role of leadership in the Fellowship, and draws connections between her work with the Fellowship in the 1940s and her later involvement with the civil rights movement from the late 1950s on.
Viola Turner, who served as treasurer of North Carolina Mutual Insurance Company, describes her childhood in Macon, Georgia, and her experiences in Durham, North Carolina. In remembering her life experiences in the early twentieth century, she focuses particularly on education, race relations, the importance of skin color, and segregation in business and leisure activities in the South.
Sociologist Hylan Lewis describes his experiences with race in the American South in the post-World War II period.
Mary Ann Moore was only a high school student when she began participating in civil rights activities in Birmingham, Alabama, in the 1960s. After becoming a laboratory technician at the VA Hospital in Birmingham, Moore followed family tradition by becoming an active member of the union. She discusses her social justice activism in this interview while drawing connections between the civil rights and the labor rights movements of the second half of the twentieth century.
In this second part of an extensive two-part interview series, Viola Turner discusses race relations in Durham and her experiences working for North Carolina Mutual. Turner offers vivid and detailed anecdotes that reveal the intricate social and professional network of Durham, primarily in the 1920s and 1930s.
Latrelle McAllister remembers a nurturing, vibrant environment at West Charlotte High School and worries that this ethos may be at risk.
John Harris, longtime cab driver and businessman in Greensboro, North Carolina, describes his community in the context of race and redevelopment.
Sociologist Guy B. Johnson describes his path to sociology and recalls his participation in the Southern Regional Council in the 1940s.
Integration was incomplete and did little to rid schools of racism, maintains Gloria Register Jeter in this interview. The close ties between school and community that existed in segregated black Chapel Hill evaporated when black schools were absorbed into a system that Jeter believed had little interest in black students' success.
Pat Cusick recalls his participation in the civil rights movement in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Imprisoned for his role in these demonstrations, he describes the formative impact his incarceration had in stirring up his radicalism, emboldening his support of nonviolent strategies, and connecting with other like-minded activists. Cusick also discusses coming to terms with his homosexuality.
Willie Mae Crews, the daughter of a sharecropper, was a teacher at Hayes High School, an African American school in Birmingham, Alabama, during the 1960s and 1970s. Crews describes Hayes as an excellent segregated school that did not benefit from the desegregation that began during the 1970-1971 school year.
Aaron Henry describes the role of race and racism in Mississippi politics.
Rebecca Clark describes the economic impact of Jim Crow: denying African Americans desirable jobs, forcing them into low-paying jobs, and humiliating African American consumers.
Julian Bond recounts a life of civil rights activism in the American South. He discusses his work with the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and his connection with other activists, including Ella Baker, Martin Luther King Jr., Bayard Rustin, John Lewis, Fannie Lou Hamer, Bob Moses, and Stokely Carmichael.
African American Birmingham city council member Richard Arrington discusses the slowly increasing presence of African Americans on Birmingham's political landscape.
African American journalist William Gordon recalls growing up in the rural South in the 1920s and 1930s. He describes his relationship with civil rights advocates such as Ralph McGill and Herman Talmadge, and explains his perspective on changing race relations and the fall of Jim Crow segregation.
Georgia politician Herman Talmadge reflects on race in southern politics and the intrusive process of desegregation.
Rita Jackson Samuels, coordinator of the Governor's Council on Human Relations in Atlanta, Georgia, describes her role in expanding the presence of African Americans in Georgia's state government.
Frances Pauley was born and raised in Decatur, Georgia, during the early twentieth century. An advocate for the poor and of racial integration, Pauley served as president of the Georgia League of Women Voters in the 1940s and 1950s, where she focused specifically on integration of public schools. In 1960, she became director of the Georgia Council on Human Relations and worked within the civil rights movement to promote African American leadership and interracial organizations.
In 1962, Gwendolyn Matthews was one of five African American students to integrate Cary High School in North Carolina. In this interview, she describes her experiences in the integration process, emphasizing the hostility of white students and teachers. In addition, she speaks more broadly about segregation and integration in Cary and Raleigh.
Presbyterian minister Charles Jones recounts his civil rights activism in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from the 1930s to the 1960s.
Environmentalist MaVynee Betsch remembers her childhood in an African American neighborhood in Jacksonville, Florida, and her experiences with segregation and development.
Patricia Neal settled in Durham, North Carolina, during the 1950s and became an active member of the community. Having served on the Durham County Board of Education from the late 1960s through the 1980s, Neal describes the process of integration and its impact on Durham schools and on the community.
Elizabeth Brooks was one of the leaders of the UNC Food Workers Strike of 1969. As a new worker in the Lenoir Dining Hall, Brooks helped to organize the food workers with the help of Preston Dobbins and the Black Student Movement. This interview focuses on the first strike, which was sparked by the unexpected firing of one worker, low wages, and withheld back pay for overtime.
This is the first interview in a two-part series with southern lawyer Ted Fillette of the Legal Aid Society of Mecklenburg County, North Carolina. Fillette describes his childhood in Mobile, Alabama; his involvement in civil rights activism as a student at Duke during the 1960s; his work with the VISTA program in Boston; and his early work as a legal advocate of people displaced by urban renewal in Charlotte, North Carolina, during the 1970s.
An African American man reflects on race and protest in segregated Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Daniel Pollitt describes the process of desegregation in the South. He discusses his involvement with civil rights activism and his relationship with progressive organizations and prominent North Carolinians, including UNC law school dean Henry Brandis and UNC basketball coach Dean Smith.
Josephine Dobbs Clement talks about her various civic roles, including her activity as a member of the League of Women Voters, the Durham City-County Charter Commission, the Board of Education, and the Board of County Commissioners. She also discusses her efforts on behalf of social justice and her views on race, gender, and environmental issues.
Elizabeth Pearsall reflects on the role of her husband, Thomas Pearsall, in the North Carolina school desegregation plan. She also discusses her own efforts at fostering racial cooperation.
Arthur Griffin reminisces about Second Ward High School in Charlotte, North Carolina, and reflects on the legacies of desegregation.
Investigative reporter John Seigenthaler discusses his early career as a journalist at
The Tennessean of Nashville during the 1950s, his work with Robert F. Kennedy during the 1960s, and his role as the editor of The Tennessean into the mid-1960s. Seigenthaler focuses on the unique nature of southern journalism and the homogenization of southern culture during the 1960s and 1970s.
Septima Clark describes the work of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) in the late 1950s to mid 1960s, especially the community education programs that she directed for the SCLC and the Highlander Folk School. She rejoices in the new voters and civil rights legislation that resulted from their work but noticed drawbacks arising from prejudice against female leaders, disdain for the poor, and clashes in leadership styles.
Southern sociologist Guion Griffis Johnson describes her work with the Georgia Conference on Social Welfare during the 1940s and her involvement with the women's movement and civil rights activism during the 1960s and 1970s in North Carolina. She discusses strategies for effecting change, the achievements of the Georgia Conference in promoting awareness of social welfare and race-related issues, and the progress of women and African Americans in their struggle for equality.
Ruth Vick describes her tenure at the Southern Regional Council (SRC), an interracial organization committed to racial justice in the South. The SRC supported the direct action strategies of the civil rights movement that emerged in force in the 1950s and 1960s, but chose study over sit-ins as a means of change. This interview addresses this decision as well as decades of internal disputes.
Walter Durham discusses coming of age during the 1950s and 1960s in Orange County, North Carolina. Durham focuses especially on the process of school integration as it occurred in the merging of the all black Lincoln High School and the newly integrated Chapel Hill High School. According to Durham, this was a tense process in which many of the school traditions he fondly remembers from his days at Lincoln were lost in the transition to integrated schools.
Grace Towns Hamilton was raised in Atlanta, where both of her parents were involved in community service and issues of social justice. Following family tradition, Hamilton was an active participant in the YWCA during the 1920s, and during the 1940s and 1950s she was the director for Atlanta's Urban League. She describes her work with these organizations, focusing on issues of segregation, education, voter registration, and housing.
This interview with Dr. Guy B. Johnson, sociology professor and author, focuses on his work as the first executive director of the Southern Regional Council (SRC) and as a member of the North Carolina Committee for Interracial Cooperation. Johnson discusses the role that women and church groups played in the Interracial Commission, describes the debate over issues such as segregation among SRC members, and outlines the conflict between SRC leaders and the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.
Thelma Stevens was the director of the Bethlehem Center in Augusta, Georgia, and the Superintendent of Christian Social Relations of the Women's Missionary Council for the Methodist Episcopal Church. In this interview, she describes her childhood in rural Mississippi, her education, and her work with the Methodist Church, all in relationship to her lifelong devotion to improving race relations in the South.
William and Josephine Clement were both born and raised in the South. They describe their family backgrounds and education. Josephine focuses on race relations in Atlanta and her father's radical politics, while William describes his participation with the Masons and his work with North Carolina Mutual.
Residents of Maxton, North Carolina, respond to integration.
In this May 1978 interview, Kojo Nantambu—one of the participants in the 1971 Wilmington, North Carolina, race conflicts—describes what he remembers of the 1971 strife, the inequities present in the trial of the Wilmington Ten, and the aftermath of the discord.
Frank Gilbert recalls his laboring life in and around Conover, North Carolina.
A Birmingham lawyer shares his reflections on segregation in Birmingham, Alabama, and racism in the United States.
Richard Bowman reflects on growing up in segregated Asheville, North Carolina, and facing racism during his employment with the army and the Los Angeles Department of Motor Vehicles. He also discusses his work to improve the current Asheville school district and rebuild his old high school. He lived in Los Angeles for four decades and experienced two major riots.
A former student at Lincoln and Chapel Hill High School recalls the frustrations of integration.
George Esser remembers his contributions to the North Carolina Fund and pulls back the curtain on a network of organizations that worked for social justice in the 1960s.
In this fast-paced 1975 interview, Virginia Foster Durr remembers her growing awareness of social problems in the South, and continues sharing her life stories through 1948. Along with her husband Clifford Durr, Virginia recounts their move to Washington, D.C., particularly her disaffection with social society and her transition to political action.
George LeMaistre remembers Alabama politics from the 1920s to the 1970s, a story troubled by violent racism and the struggle over integration.
This is the final interview in a series of three with Virginia Foster Durr. Since the previous session, Clifford Durr had died, making the interview feel very different from the two in which he had taken part. The interview begins with Durr's growing awareness of racial matters and her activism during their life among the New Dealers in Washington, D.C. Among the topics she touches on are the anti-communism of the 1950s, sexual discrimination on Capitol Hill, and the southern reaction to Roosevelt's New Deal policies.