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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Launching an office of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare in North Carolina

After leaving Business Week, Adamson met some members of the Southern Conference on Human Welfare. The Conference had not yet opened a branch in North Carolina, so Adamson agreed to launch a division in the state, an opportunity that allowed her to return home.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Mary Price Adamson, April 19, 1976. Interview G-0001. 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

What was the first opportunity that you had to do that-through working with the Southern Conference?
My friends at the Office Workers Union, Louis Merril who was president of the Union at that time, persuaded me that I should quit Business Week and come and do publications for the Office Workers Union. So as I look back on it, it is one of the most foolish things that I ever did, to quit what was in many ways the best job I ever had to go for a romantic notion that I had about the trade union movement. But anyhow, that's what I did. That just was a foolish venture. I didn't get along very well. In the course of the time that I was working for the Union, I went as the Union representative to a dinner that was held. Just exactly what that dinner was, I don't know. It was at the Commador Hotel. One remembers inconsequential things. Anyhow, seated at the same table with me were Clark Foreman and Palmer Weber. I don't know whether you ever knew Palmer Weber or not. He was from Virginia, and Clark, you know very well about his background. One of the Alexander family from Philadelphia was also at that table. I thought of him in connection with his being in the Cabinet, you know, Transportation, one of the members of that family. But anyhow, it was an interesting bunch of people at that dinner. It happened again-circuitous-that the Southern Conference for Human Welfare did not have a branch, or whatever they called it-a committee-in North Carolina. They wanted to know what I was doing, and I was working for the Office Workers Union. I was obviously not very well satisfied with it. So Palmer said, "Come around to see me at thus and such an address and we'll see about it." But he had immediately, you see, since they were looking for someone to work in North Carolina, and I had had the Trade Union experience, and I had had a little bit varied experience. So whatever the details were . . . he got in touch with Clark Foreman, who was president at that time. In the course of time, they offered me the job to organize the committee for North Carolina for the Southern Conference for Human Welfare.
Had you heard about the Southern Conference before that?
Yes, I heard about it because my friend, Virginia Payne, again was from Tennessee. She had known about it, and she was perhaps a little bit more hip than I was to what was going on in matters in the South. I had not kept up. She was a friend of Virginia Durr, and I had met Josephine Black, you know, Mrs. Hugo Black, who's Virginia Durr's sister, in Washington. As a matter of fact, Justice Black and Mrs. Black came over to our apartment one day. It was a big event. They came to tea one day. Anyhow, we were interested in what was going on. Mrs. Claude Pepper, you know, Senator Pepper . . . Mrs. Black and Virginia Payne were trying to help whatever her name was Pepper. Did I mention her name before? Anyhow, to be better suited to her job as a leading senator's wife. So Mildred Pepper, her name was, she had met her in Florida. She was a woman who had not had a broad range of experience, shall we say. So my interests, in one way or another, my interests in the South grew rapidly, my interest in public affairs. So this was a fortuitous circumstance for me to be offered a job to live in Greensboro, go back to my home town, and to work in North Carolina.