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Excerpt from Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, November 22, 1976. Interview G-0049-2. Southern Oral History Program Collection (#4007) See Entire Interview >>

Formation of the Progressive Labor Club and its relationship to the YWCA-YMCA at UNC

Queen discusses the formation of the Progressive Labor Club by University of North Carolina students sometime during the 1960s. Queen was the director of the YWCA-YMCA at UNC during these years and, here, she specifically describes how the founders of the Progressive Labor Club sought the sponsorship of the Campus Y. Queen explains why she believed the Progressive Labor Club should not be associated explicitly with the Y, although she supported their right to organize.

Citing this Excerpt

Oral History Interview with Anne Queen, November 22, 1976. Interview G-0049-2. 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

Was this just a group of people from Chapel Hill who were going, or part of a larger…
It was a group from Chapel Hill. They finally went, and they joined a group in Canada. A Chapel Hill group organized the groups. And they went to cut cane. [Interruption]
Claude Shotts didn't want to say no to Dennis, so he sent Dennis to talk to me. And I said to Dennis, "Well, now, this decision is not mine to make. It has to be made by the Executive Committee of the YM-YW, and I will take that to the Executive Committee, but I'll be sitting in on that meeting, and my vote will be no. But I think the students should be able to…" [Laughter] He was so honest. He said, "Well, you know what we really want is we want to use the Y, because we want a respectable organization to sponsor us."
Was that why you said your vote would be no?
No, because I just felt that if the idea in the first place was not initiated by the Y, that we shouldn't have a group come in and use the Y, and I told him so. But I was very frank with him about it, and I said, "If the students vote to sponsor you, I'll support them in it, but my vote will be no." And I said, "What you need is not a respectable organization; if you're going and break the law, you need a good lawyer." Well, that sort of ended it. But Dennis and I ended on very friendly terms, but I made my position very clear. When the Progressive Labor Club was organized—and I think this was Nick Bateson's idea—they organized in the community and not on campus, because Nick was very careful. He appreciated the Y's defense of his right to organize and to join organizations which he wished to, but he would never use the Y because he wanted to protect the freedom of the Y. So the Progressive Labor Club was actually never organized on campus; it was a community-wide organization. And, as I said in our earlier conversation, the real issue for me was to defend the right of these people to organize and to join whatever movement they wished as long as it was not violent. When I parted company with them was if they used violence as a method for social change. And I've reflected a great deal on this since Tom Hayden's campaign for the senate in California, and I think Tom may be right that the radicalism of the fifties and the sixties has in some ways become the common sense of the 1970's, as we look back now on where some of these people are.