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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985. Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Interracial alliances and social change

Taylor uses his connections to various civil rights leaders and groups to illustrate the importance of interracial alliances when seeking social change.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with J. Randolph Taylor, May 23, 1985. Interview C-0021. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) in the Southern Oral History Program Collection, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Full Text of the Excerpt

Since by then, you see, I was a white southerner who was involved in what basically was a predominantly black civil rights movement I at least had the contacts which such a group needed to be able to establish relationships across town and throughout the South. When we moved to Atlanta to Central Presbyterian Church, one of the tangential things ... It wasn't central to the whole decision, because we went as a call to Central Presbyterian Church, a splendid church thoroughly involved in the life of the city of Atlanta. But one of the serendipitous effects was the fact that Ebeneezer Baptist Church, of which Dr. King and his father were co-pastors, was about a quarter of a mile from Central Church, and so we contacted them and they were very hospitable to us. As we arrived in Atlanta, the Kings greeted us, and in retrospect that was very significant. That opened doors that we just simply would never have had opened to us, particularly in the black community but also somewhat in the white community. I moved to Atlanta in December of 1967, and Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis in April of 1968, just really four months later. The result was that what I think would have come to have been a very close association was aborted. Since Mrs. King had been so gracious when we came, Arlene and I went immediately over to her house and visited with her and with Daddy King and with Mrs. King, Sr., and that began a very close friendship, so that I have stayed in touch with the King family. I shared in Mama King's funeral. I went back to Atlanta to share in Daddy King's memorial service just this past year. And the two churches began to program together, a predominantly black church and a predominantly white church, and now do a great many things jointly. That relationship continues, and it's a very exciting one. Through the process of all that, I got to know the other civil rights leaders in Atlanta and was heavily involved with Andy Young. Andy was Chairman of the Community Relations Commission of the city of Atlanta, and I was his Vice-Chair. Then when he was elected to Congress, I became Chair of the Community Relations Commission, and Joe Lowry, who's now President of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, became my Vice-Chair. Then when I came to Charlotte, he took over the Chairmanship of the CRC there. The result of this is that I've always been really involved in interracial discussions about the issues that affect the community and the society and have come a long time ago to see that it's very important that we talk together, that you cannot deal with any of these issues from a one-race point of view. I think that's the trap most people don't realize. They figure, "Well, we can figure out this problem, and we can solve it." But the "we" has got to include blacks as well as whites, and that's true for the black community as well as the white community. Each community can fool itself that it can do this alone, but it can't. Together we can really move in terms of the structures and systems of a metropolitan area like Charlotte, or a state like North Carolina, or this region, or the nation, but it's got to be both black and white, and that's, I guess, maybe the chief learning from all that pilgrimage.