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Billy E. Barnes became a photographer in the late 1950s and worked for the McGraw-Hill Publishing Company for several years before going to work for the North Carolina Fund (1964-1968). Barnes devotes most of this interview to a discussion of his work as a documentary photographer for the North Carolina Fund, paying particular attention to his effort to humanize impoverished people as part of the broader War on Poverty.
Kay Tillow discusses her career as a labor activist, describing her early work in social justice movements of the 1960s and with Local 1199 in Pennsylvania during the 1970s and 1980s. In the late 1980s, Tillow returned to her home state of Kentucky, where she worked closely with the Nurses Professional Organization (NPO) as a representative of the Association of Machinists, who sponsored the NPO in their initial effort to organize Louisville nurses. She continued her work with the NPO towards achieving bargaining power into the early twenty-first century.
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.
Robert Coles is a child psychiatrist and writer at Harvard who was a pioneer in the emerging field of academic oral history during the 1960s and 1970s. In this interview, Coles discusses the purposes of oral history, his thoughts on academia and writing, and methodologies of oral history, especially in reference to the use of tape recorders.
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.
Lifelong textile worker Eula McGill shares her thoughts on the benefits of Alabama textile unions.
J. Randolph Taylor pauses to reflect on his participation in the civil rights movement, the reunification of the Presbyterian Church of the United States of America, and various other social justice campaigns.
Civil rights activist Suzanne Post speaks about what motivated her commitment to social justice. Though she is best known for her work to overcome race-based segregated education in Louisville and to launch Louisville's Metropolitan Housing Coalition, Post insists that her most important work centered on women's rights.
Joseph Califano served as the Secretary of the United States Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) from 1977 to 1979. He recalls the reasons for the University of North Carolina's opposition to HEW's desegregation criteria.
Elizabeth and Courtney Siceloff recall their work with the Fellowship of Southern Churchmen and with the Penn School. The interview centers largely on the internal problems and external mission of the Fellowship.
Howard Fuller began his activism in Durham, North Carolina, as a student volunteer for the North Carolina Fund. His experiences as an activist for low-income black residents shaped his lifelong work and involvement in anti-poverty campaigns.
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.
In this interview, Vivion Lenon Brewer explains how her awareness of racial disparities caused her to support school desegregation in Little Rock, Arkansas. She discusses her leadership in pushing politicians to reopen the closed public schools during the 1958-1959 Little Rock school crisis.
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.
Virginius Dabney traces his involvement with the school desegregation crisis in post-1954 Virginia. Dabney's political and social beliefs about integration appeared in the newspaper he edited, the
Richmond Times-Dispatch. This interview spans the breadth of his career from the 1920s to the 1970s.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fran Jackson discusses her reaction to the integration of Chapel Hill High School.
Presbyterian minister Charles Jones recounts his civil rights activism in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, from the 1930s to the 1960s.
David Burgess discusses how his religious faith fused into his life work of social activism. In particular, he explains his involvement in labor organizing in the South.
Senator Jesse Helms describes some of his political positions, and reflects on the state of the Republican Party.
Mack Pearsall recalls his father's role in the Pearsall Plan, a school desegregation strategy in post-
Brown North Carolina that allowed parents to move their children to non-integrated schools. He expresses faith that economic progress will positively affect the state's race relations.
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.
Charlene Regester assesses the costs to blacks of school integration in Chapel Hill.
Daniel Pollitt describes his admiration for University of North Carolina Campus Y director, Anne Queen. He discusses his and Queen's engagement in social justice movements and the city of Chapel Hill's reaction to student political engagement.
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.
Howard Kester was a pacifist and social reformer in the South from the early 1920s through the 1960s. In this interview, he focuses on his adherence to pacifism, Christianity, the Social Gospel, and Socialism. He describes his work to end injustices associated with race and labor, and assesses the work of prominent social justice leaders in the South during the 1920s and 1930s.
In the third of three interviews, four-term Democratic North Carolina Governor James B. Hunt assesses his leadership and the changes that occurred in the Democratic Party during his tenure.
Lloyd and Betty Parker Davidson grew up in Danville, Virginia, during the 1910s and 1920s. After establishing themselves as weavers in Danville, they moved to Burlington, North Carolina, in 1932 to work at the Plaid Mill. In this interview, they describe their experiences as weavers, focusing especially on working conditions in the 1930s and 1940s.
Guion Griffis Johnson, a southern sociologist who received her Ph.D. in sociology from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1927, discusses the challenges she faced as she balanced career and family as a woman. Johnson describes women's changing roles in American society, and addresses her involvement in voluntary organizations, advances in birth control and abortion, and the evolving nature of marriage, divorce, and family.
Carolyn Farrar Rogers discusses how growing up in rural North Carolina sheltered her from racism and taught her the values of hard work and racial self-worth. These values served her well as a teacher during the early desegregation period.
Sam and Vesta Finley describe their roles in the North Carolina factory strike that led to the "Marion Massacre."
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.
I. Beverly Lake Sr. reflects on his long career as a teacher, attorney, and judge. He counsels white political unity as a means to stem racial 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.
John Harris, longtime cab driver and businessman in Greensboro, North Carolina, describes his community in the context of race and redevelopment.
Strom Thurmond discusses his childhood and the people who inspired his long political career. As an attorney, judge, and governor, Thurmond advocated for states' rights and witnessed the desegregation of South Carolina. He recounts how he lived out his values in regard to the United States Constitution and race relations.
English professor Margaret O'Connor discusses the formation of the women's studies department at UNC-Chapel Hill, as well as some of the administrative and political issues she dealt with after its inception.
Jimmy Carter, the governor of Georgia, discusses the growing influence of the Democratic Party in southern states and links it to distinctly southern trends, such as increased voter participation and the impact of the civil rights movement.
Louise Young was an educated woman from Tennessee who spent most of her adult life working to promote better race relations in the South. Young describes her years teaching at African American institutions of higher education—Paine College and the Hampton Institute—during the 1910s and 1920s; her job as the director of the Department of Home Missions of the Methodist Episcopal Church, where she trained students at Scarritt College in race relations; her support of women's organizations, particularly the Association of Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching; and labor activism, as exemplified by the Highlander Folk School in Tennessee.
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.
Mary Turner Lane was the first director of the women's studies program at the University of North Carolina. In this interview, she discusses the beginnings and the evolution of the women's studies program at UNC.
Tawana Belinda Wilson-Allen recalls her community activist work and her service as a congressional liaison for Congressman Mel Watt. She assesses the tensions between lower-income and wealthier residents in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Virginia Foster Durr discusses her early life and how she became aware of the social justice problems plaguing twentieth-century America. In this first part of a three-interview series, Durr describes her life on the plantation when she was a child; race issues in Birmingham, where she grew up; and how her views began to change when she left Birmingham to attend Wellesley College.
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.
Virginius Dabney recounts his early experiences as a reporter for the
Richmond News Leader as well as his later stint as the editor of that newspaper. He also discusses his attitudes about the role of reporters in the political and social arenas, and his work with the Southern Regional Council.
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.
Mareda Sigmon Cobb and her sister Carrie Sigmon Yelton both worked long careers in North Carolina textile mills, completing the family journey from farm to factory in the early decades of the twentieth century. Here they describe their family lives both as children and parents, the many implications of the Depression, working conditions in the mills, religion, and other themes central to social and labor history. The economic and material realities of textile employment are explored in detail; each suffered a major injury on the job, neither favored unionization (though their husbands did), and neither received a pension.
Beginning with her family background and early childhood, Adamson traces the dynamics that led her to adopt her radical stance later in life. She also responds to the accusations that she had been a Communist spy and explains how the Red Scare affected her life.